Friday, June 22, 2012

Days 9-12: Sea Days, Monet's House and Garden, Rouen Cathedral and a First Class Journey Home

The last few days of the trip were restful, fun and full of goodness. We tried to dock in Edinburgh, Scotland, but the weather was so bad that we couldn't leave the ship. What I call the "gang plank" (haha!) would have thrashed about due to the high winds and people would have been thrown over, so instead of taking a chance with people's safety, the cruise captain and crew decided to just keep "sailing" on. We had two days at sea, which was so nice after getting up early each day for tours, pushing and pushing to see it all. When I go on vacation I like to keep a healthy balance between seeing new things and getting some much needed rest. So I was fine.  A lot of people were disappointed because they really wanted to see Edinburgh, and I understand that. I had heard it was a beautiful place, but I was grateful that we were all safe and that I just had a little more time alone with mom. You don't get a lot of alone time on a cruise ship with 3,080 passengers and 1,200 crew. Plus, because I had never been on a cruise before, everything I saw and experienced was new to me. I was grateful for whatever happened!

While we were enjoying our sea days, we entertained ourselves by going to movies in the theaters (or watching them from our beds in our rooms - NICE!). We also played bingo, attended wine tastings and went to the spa. Now that's what I'm talking about! Haha!

This was one delicious bottle of wine! 

While we were enjoying all of this fun, we were moving towards Le Havre, France. This is one of the main port cities of France, and was a convenient stopping point for many day excursions. Some of the people in our group took a tour of Paris, some stayed in Le Havre, and my friend Lydia and I hopped on a bus for Monet's House and Gardens in Giverny! I was really excited about seeing his grounds, not only because the artist has been so successful, but also because I love plants and landscaping. I wanted to see this place that he imagined, planned and brought into reality because I've done the same with my house and yards. It's always inspiring to see something and take back ideas to your own place. I was NOT disappointed. God, this place was beautiful.

Walking up the famous green bridge in the water garden

One of the gardeners cleaning the ponds - During his time, Monet employed someone to dust his water lilies so that they would look their best before he painted them. 

A view of the bridge

Water Lilies! Monet painted around 250 in his Water Lilies series and I was fortunate enough to see some of his larger, mural works in this series at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris in 2008. 

Had to capture the moment!

My favorite view in the water garden

Monet's Flower Garden in front of his house. He constructed the whole plan of his garden, based on placing specific colors of flowers next to each other. 

The rose arches!


Rose arches leading up to the house

So lush!

Monet's House - Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside, but it was beautiful too.

We could take pictures of the outside from the windows! This was taken from Monet's bedroom. What a view he had!

Love this flower and want to put it in my own garden. Phillip told me it would work! We're going to try to find them this weekend!


Entrance to Monet's Studio - Now the gift shop

Inside Monet's studio/gift shop
One of the things that touched me the most while seeing this artist's home and gardens was the fact that he did what he wanted. This wasn't always a good thing, such as when he rerouted a branch of the Epte River to flow to his grounds and supply water for his gardens. That's pretty arrogant in my book and the townspeople definitely disagreed with the plan, but Monet kept at it until he got what he wanted.

The thing I loved, though, was the fact that Monet also painted the rooms in his house with bright colors. One can see yellow and light blue throughout the house. I received a little flack about that when I was decorating my house, but now that I have a few years under my belt, I realize that it's my house. I can do whatever I want! And I love it and it makes me happy! I also loved the fact that Monet didn't give up on his dream. He knew what he wanted for his life and he went after it. This man's life inspires me as much as his art. I have such big dreams for my life and for my community. In order to achieve those dreams, I have to keep at it!

After our tour, we drove to a beautiful water mill/house for lunch.

The backside of the mill house - So quaint and beautiful

Inside the lunch spot!

I met a wonderful couple from LA, Jerry and Bobby. They were hilarious! We had a lot of fun on this trip!

After lunch, we travelled to Rouen. This is the cathedral that Monet painted in a series as well!

The Rouen town clock!

Church of St. Joan of Arc - The roofline is supposed to represent Joan of Arc's hat.

The place where Joan of Arc was burned - in the courtyard of the church.

Inside the church - our tour guide said it was built in the late 60s- early 70s. 

Leaving Le Havre's port at the end of the day. Sailing back to London to get on the plane home!
After a night on the ship, mom and I got up really early so that we could disembark and travel to the airport in London. When we arrived, checked our bags, made it through security and up to the gate desk, we were greeted with a great surprise! We were upgraded to first class. Heyyyooooo!!!! I've never flown first class and it will probably be a reeeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyy long time before I do again, so this was a big treat for me. When the lady at the desk told us, I looked at mom and said, "How did this happen?!?!?" She looked at me with a serious face and whispered, "Don't ask questions." Hahahahaha! God I love my mom. 

So we boarded our flight and found our seats. I'm sure I looked like a "hick-from-the-sticks" as I proceeded to play with every button and gadget available in my little pod. The seats could recline, with a leg and foot rest motoring up to where my legs were straight in front of me. That makes a big difference to a shorty whose legs usually dangle during the entire duration of a flight. We also received little pouches of goodies, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, eye masks, ear plugs, socks, and we also were given a set of pajamas that the sassy flight attendant told us we could sell on eBay. Haha! 

And then there was the fact that we had our own video monitors, dimming lights, a little desk, and we were given unlimited cocktails and food. I was stuffed by the time the flight ended. I told the flight attendants that I was just making the most of it because I never knew when I would be back in first class. Haha! Then they brought me two cookies. LOL. 

I had the best time and it was the perfect way to end such a wonderful trip with my mom.  The very best part about this trip was spending time with her. We talked, laughed, resolved issues, saw incredible things, and were given a chance to simply enjoy each other's company. I love my mom. She is kind, loving, generous, sweet, hilarious and beautiful. She's been that way with everyone she meets from the beginning.  I'm proud to call her my mother and couldn't be more grateful. What an incredible graduation gift this was. I will cherish the memories we made forever. 


  1. This is spectacular! Simply put i appreciate reading your written content everytime I get feed alarm.

  2. Oh thank you so much. Really glad you enjoy it!