Viking Delling staff met us at the Marseilles airport and drove us to Avignon to begin our cruise up the Rhone River. Day 1 consisted of getting settled in our rooms (ours had a small veranda looking out at the river), obligatory safety drill, introductory talks in the Lounge by the Captain and staff and a brief description of the next day’s activities.
Food, of course, is always amazing on cruises and this one is no exception. in the dining room, There are so many options for dining. There will be something for every taste and dietary requirement. The Chef’s Regional Specialties Tasting Menu is offered every night – and two other 3-course menu options. There are other offerings which are available every night as pick-and-choose meals. They are —
1st Course -Caesar Salad 2nd Course-Angus Rib Eye Steak/Poached Norwegian Salmon/Roast Chicken Supreme 3rd Course-Crème Brulee/Fromagerie/ Seasonal Fresh Fruit Plate/Ice Cream or Sorbet
If the first night was any indication, I think it will be the Chef’s Tasting Menu for me every night. Tonight’s chef recommendation —
Crispy Vegetable Salad Peppers, Red Apple, Feta; Mint & Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Seared Diver Scallops Sunchoke Mousseline, Pine Nut Gremolata, Asparagus & Radish (Scallops can be difficult to get just right – these were perfect!)
Clafoutis aux Cerises Warm Baked Cherry Pudding
This first night, Kathy opted for the pick-and-choose of Caesar Salad, Roasted Chicken Supreme and the Crème Brulee. She commented that the chicken was more flavorful than the roasted chicken that came so highly recommended when we were in Paris.
Cocktails in the Lounge after dinner with entertainment by the Gypsy Kings – a little Flamenco to end the evening.
After a lovely buffet breakfast of anything and everything one could want (I had a made to order spinach and cheese omelet which was a light as a crepe), we boarded a bus for our tour. Tarascon was our first port, but Arles was our destination as it cannot dock a ship of our size. It is the last town at the end of the river, then it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. So we are working backwards and will end the cruise with 2 days in Lyon – the food capital of France! The ship cast off from Avignon to Arles at 5am. Breakfast service began at 6am.
Arles is a fascinating little town. In the last days of the Roman Empire, Arles was the capital of Roman Gaul. Remnants from that time include an ancient amphitheater seating 20,000 and is still used today for events. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired to paint a number of works highlighting many of Arles’ sights. Narrow streets and cobblestone walks aside, Arles has a vibrant and energetic feel. Provencal Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays feature fresh fruit and vegetables from local farms.
Free afternoon to explore the ship and catch up on my blog. Posts will probably be delayed as wifi reception onboard is spotty and my photos are taking their own sweet time to link to my tablet. But who’s in a big hurry anyway? Its vacation time. About 5pm, I took my decaf caramel coffee into the Viking Lounge and just sat for a while looking out at the river and the precious silence of a lovely sunny afternoon in France!! I haven’t seen Kathy in a while. I think she is taking a nap. It is well deserved. Being a tourist is hard work! Experiencing new places, doing new things, and having lots of fun is not for weaklings. And this new week has just begin.
Before you know it, it’s dinner time again. Tasting Menu tonight was –
Soup au Pistou Vegetable Soup, Basil Pesto
Gnocchi a la Nicoise Gnocchi Tossed with Summer Vegetables & Safe Butter
Moelleux au Chocolat Vairhona Tainori Cacao (translated, this is chocolate cake in a raspberry coulee and covered with chocolate)
Music in the Lounge after dinner with our onboard pianist Benny.