Say Hello To Valdemar The Viking

Preparing for our upcoming Viking River Cruise, this time sailing along France’s scenic Saône and Rhône Rivers on an itinerary themed Portraits Of Southern France, we’re digging deep into the history of the region.  Visiting the Viking River Cruises website, we found and ordered additional ‘suggested reading’ material which arrived today.  As I was organizing the literature our friend Valdemar The Viking dropped by and announced that he too was coming along on the journey.

Now if it seems odd that Valdemar (pronounced vahl-DE-mahr) would just add himself on to the manifest, you have to understand something about Vikings.

Vikings are fearless, don’t take “no” for an answer and have a rich history of exploration that is known the world over.
Lisa and I, Americans, have seen a bit of the planet but welcome Valdemar and the fearless explorer spirit he promises to bring to our adventure.
That Valdemar The Viking was born a Christmas tree ornament who came to us via a Viking Christmas Markets sailing is of little consequence.   Vikings, even wooden ones, have an undeniable zest for travel that we welcome.

Look for Valdemar The Viking to pop up along the way preparing for our voyage, at airports, on airlines, in hotels and at the iconic destinations we will visit on our trip.  Already, Valdemar The Viking is getting into the experience, reminding me that we will be visiting three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Apparently he remembers when they were just ‘places’.  In Arles, Avignon and Lyon, France we will tag three more UNESCO sites on the list as ‘visited’.  But those are just three of the stops on our 8-day Viking River Cruise and this is going to be much more than ‘check off the days’ as we sail along.

Starting today, we have some research to do and are beginning with these suggested sources:

IMG_0883Long Ago In France
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (July 3, 1908 – June 22, 1992) was a preeminent American food writer and a founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library.  In 1929,  Fisher arrived in Dijon, the provincial capital of Burgundy and the gastronomical capital of France, there to be initiated into the ways of love and life. We will be reading Long Ago In France, Fisher’s candid memoir of her three-year stay in Dijon. The work is said to be a delightful journey backward into a voluptuous, genteel world that has vanished forever and one we hope to see glimpses of on our journey.

The Road from the Past, Traveling through History in France
Ina Caro takes us on an unforgettable driving tour of France, from Provence to the Loire Valley to Paris. With Caro as an epicurean, knowledgeable, and delightfully opinionated guide, we can always be sure to find the most breathtaking vistas, the most extraordinary châteaux, the most inspiring cathedrals, and the very best meals.  Said to be a delightful blend of information, history, and opinion, Caro gives us a four-dimensional tour of France, complete with insights  cultivated from study and numerous visits to France.  Singing our song, she promises to take us to where history unfolds…and then to a favorite spot for a picnic or five-course meal.

Eyewitness Guide Provence & the Cote D’Azur
Eyewitness Travel Guides are the original illustrated travel guidebooks. Since 1993, the Eyewitness brand has established itself as one of the industry leaders, with sales of more than 6.5 million copies in the U.S. alone. The Eyewitness Guide Provence & the Cote D’Azur promises to lead us straight to the best attractions that the region has on offer. Packed with photographs, illustrations and detailed maps, the guide explores every facet of the region, from the resorts of the Riviera and St. Tropez to the hilltop village of Rousillon.  We already found 3D cutaways and floorplans of all the major sites plus street-by-street maps of the major cities and towns.  Our first time traveling with a bound travel guide, this should be interesting.

Rhone Valley Map
To get a good overview of where we are going to be traveling, this detailed Michelin map of the Rhone Valley from Lyon south to Port St. Louis, the Cararmgue and Marseille should come in handy.  It’s not exactly what I had in mind; a map of the river and sites along the way, but is a good place to start.

Time To Get To Work On Language Too
In addition, we’ll be working hard on our French language skills which is unbelievably easy to do by making ‘cheat sheets’ of things we commonly say during the day

Things we commonly say during the day in English, translated to French:

Oh Sleeping Beauty, It’s time to get up!
Oh Belle au bois dormant, il est temps de se lever!

Will You take the dog outside?
allez-vous prendre le chien à l’extérieur?

Do you want more coffee?
Voulez-vous plus de café?

You’re home!
Vous êtes à la maison!

Shall we watch TV?
Allons-nous regarder la télévision?

I love you
Je t’aime

Thank you very much
Merci beaucoup

I worship the ground you walk on
J’adore le terrain, vous marchez sur

Time to train for the Triathlon!
Temps à s’entraîner pour le triathlon!

Then there is this easy way too: