Just returned from a truncated Rick Steves trip: Loire and the South of France
* First half of our trip went as planned - meet up in Chartres
- Trying to take the Metro on Sunday morning- the stations were all closed, so it was much shlepping past the cemetery and other streets to get to the main Montparnasse train station
- Chartres is lovely; fortunate to have a tour with the famous Malcolm Miller who explained how to "read" the stories in the stained glass of the cathedral
- We visited a wine cave (on a free afternoon), which I had read about. So very interesting, and free wine tasting to boot! Highly recommend!
Leonardo's home in Amboise
- Having finished Isaakson's book, I was really keen to see this
- Many groups of schoolchildren - warning - possibly source of Covid 2 days' hence
Chateaux and gardens (Clemenceaux, Villandry) - much history, the gardens are wonderful!
- It is -work- to canoe and you can't see much of the castes from the water
- My favorite memory is of watching the iridescent moths alight on the white river blossoms
- Market day (Saturday) is mobbed. Great deals all around - tempting but if you're traveling light, its limited
- Foie gras - tried it (against my better judgement); I don't need to try it any more
- Walnuts - love walnut bread!
- After about 6 days of the tour, Jim came down with a fever and felt all out of energy
- An at-home Covid test proved it
- We told our guide who quite immediately told us we were off the tour
- Travel insurance (we had TravelGuard, cancel for any reason policy) was no help, which was unexpected. They said since Jim had Covid they were unable to book anything for us, and "why don't you look up Airbnb?"
- We were fortunate that the hotel in Sarlat had a cancellation, so we stayed. It was a nice room with comfy beds and a terrace. Note: we continued to stay in the same room (with 2 twin beds), and I never came down with it
- Available in town. I continued to test every other day - always negative
- PokemonGo is still a thing, and still a thing in France. Kept me busy capturing pokemon in the wild on my trips to the store, and to get meals. Also my Merlin bird app - caught many sound recordings for my Ebird portfolio, literally dozens
- A few art galleries in Sarlat, and numerous windy back alleys in town - quite scenic
- Indeed once you make a train reservation, you may or may not be able to change or get a refund
- Some (Ouigo) you can only change the date of travel, and if they are booked on the day you want, there is no recourse
- We ended up keeping one leg of our train journey back to CDG/Paris - and had to work other local travel with that (train to Bordeaux; moving our flight out by one day to allow for Covid tests); another night at a Paris airport hotel
CDG - Charles deGaulle airport
- 3 hours - yes plan on this!! Our first flight was cancelled, so we had enough time to walk the length from Terminal 2B to 2G and still catch our first flight
- T2G (by shuttle) is so cute- indoor fountain and funky furniture. Food stands open at 6am
- Negative test home - stressful but quick - both tested negative!
- Lufthansa app - does not work the same way each time you use it! They want documents (vax card, negative test result) uploaded digitally. My vax card (showing 2 shots and 2 boosters) for some reason didn't have a bar code, so they app rejected it. We had to go to the airport and talk with a ticket agent to resolve.
- I'm honestly not sure I'd take another RS tour. We've had our own trips (complete freedom!) and all-inclusive (Galapagos Islands). I'm just not sure (just me - and I'm more of a loner) this economical trip is something I want to do again.