Sept 04, 2012, Rouen and Calvados, France. Fear and Loathing in Rouen. Reprieve in Calvados.

Today marked our first full day with Insight Tours.  Gone was the feeling of being a liberated tourist in Paris to being a time constrained bus prisoner.  The tour kicked off bright and early in the morning and we made our way along the banks of the Seine River to our first stop in Rouen.  Ironic, one goes on vacation to avoid getting up early and being in rush hour traffic and here I am again in the thick of it.  At least I had my coffee and I’m not the one driving.

Rouen is famous for its Cathédrale Notre-Dame, which was also the tallest Cathedral from 1876 to 1880.  It is the seat of the Archbishop of Rouen and Normandy.  Construction of the current building began in the 12th century and continued through to the 16th century.  It’s a truly magnificent structure, adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, and iconic statues that would take many hours to fully appreciate.  Unfortunately, that was not the case as the tour operated at the speed of drive by shootings.  For those interested in more information on this remarkable structure, I recommend a visit to wikipedia.  Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Rouen

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen
Stained Glass in Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen

After our brief visit inside the church, the tour guide marched all of us into the town.  He counted what he thought was the correct number of heads, but alas, missed one important person, namely Elaine.  I had assumed she was in the gaggle of people in front of me and figured I’ll just march on because I’m the last guy catching up with the group.   The fact of the matter is she was left behind!  I figured the worst case scenario was that if she’s lost, she’ll reconvene with the group at the tour bus.

After waiting a several minutes to see if Elaine would locate us, I decided to let her catch up, as finding her would be like looking for a needle in a haystack in this crowded and compact town. It was not until a half hour later, that I become panicky and angry since the guide told me that the bus would not be at it’s original location!  Needless to say I was horrified and upset.  My visit to explore Rouen was cut short as I now went about the task of finding Elaine.  However, before I recant the rest of this awful tale, I must share one of the few photos I took in the town of Rouen before I went into missing person search mode: the beautiful Great Clock of Rouen.

The Great Clock of Rouen, France

The clock is an appropriate metaphor since time had became my antagonist.  The tour guide said that if I could not locate Elaine soon enough, they would leave without us.  This literally meant unloading all our luggage and we would then have to arrange our own transportation to rendez-vous with them at the next stop in Calvados, some 137 km away.   This did not bode well with me and I was ready to explode.  I had already spent well over an hour and a half looking for her, even going back to the Cathedral twice.  With literally five minutes to spare before the dreaded “get left behind deadline”, I finally located Elaine and we made it back to the bus.  Needless to say, this situation cast a dark shadow on our moods for the remainder of the day.

We had nearly two hours on the bus to cool down, before arriving at the beautiful ocean town of Calvados.  After drinking a few beers, smoking some cigars and strolling the streets, my bad mood was starting to wane.

The tranquil port of Calvados, France

After our stop at the port in Calvados, we made our way to the quaint “Le Beach Hotel” in Calvados.   The evening’s therapeutic walk and our dinner will the the topic of my next blog entry.

Daytime photos from Rouen and Calvados.


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