Stepping Back In Time In Blaye

Blaye’s picturesque Citadel has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site…and Viking Forseti docked right next to it. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”

- C. Fields
November 24, 2014
Today, Viking River Cruises’ Viking Forseti sailed into the sleepy little town of Blaye, France. Though there are two berthing locations in Blaye, we lucked out today, with a prime docking location right next to Blaye’s historic Citadel.

A quiet Viking Forseti in the early morning hours of November 24. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A quiet Viking Forseti in the early morning hours of November 24. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

In the early morning hours, the only thing quieter than the town of Blaye was the good ship Viking Forseti, whose inhabitants were sleeping in after a long and wonderful night of wine, food, dancing, more wine, and good cheer. In fact, the guests onboard the Viking Forseti participated in the most active nightlife I’ve ever seen on a river cruise ship. I won’t say who shut the bar down (certainly not the Canadians!), but the fact that I know the time of this exit – around 1:30 a.m. – should provide a clue.

Good Morning! A towel animal with a 'Do Not Disturb' sign greeted me after I'd returned to my room from breakfast. Cool touch. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Good Morning! A towel animal with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign greeted me after I’d returned to my room from breakfast. Cool touch. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Lounge was busy until well past one in the morning. People twice my age were up there on the dance floor, dancing five times better than I could. Drinks were flowing, the crew were having a good time, and Sylvia – Viking Forseti’s talented onboard pianist and vocalist – kept us all musically entertained well into the night.
It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Viking planned for this to be a lazy morning. We departed Pauillac at 6:30 AM, and tied up in Blaye at 8:00 AM, with the first organized excursion to visit the Blaye Citadel starting at 9:30 AM on-the-dot. I like and appreciate that Viking has their excursions depart on-time; announcements are made ten or fifteen minutes prior to the tour’s departure, and the responsibility to be on the coaches or pierside is left up to the guests.

Viking Forseti docked in Blaye, France. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Viking Forseti docked in Blaye, France. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

One of the best aspects of river cruising is that you have the ability to participate in the inclusive tours or the optional (additional-cost) tours – but only if you want. In my case, with the Blaye Citadel so close at hand, I joined some fantastic fellow Canadians that I had become friends with and together, we set out to create our very own walking tour of Blaye and the Citadel.
But before we get to that, here’s what’s happening onboard Viking Forseti today:

  • 6:00 – 11:00 AM. Café Breakfast. Coffee, juice and pastries are available at the coffee station in front of The Lounge.
  • 6:30 AM. Cast Off! Viking Forseti leaves Pauillac for Blaye.
  • 6:30 – 9:30 AM. Continental Breakfast. A selection of beverages and breakfast items are available on the Aquavit Terrace.
  • 7:00 – 9:30 AM. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and a choice of dishes cooked to order in The Restaurant.
  • 8:00 AM. Viking Forseti arrives in Blaye.
  • 9:30 – 11:00 AM. Shore Excursion: Blaye Citadel. Join us for a walk around this historic citadel followed by free time.
  • 12:00 PM. Lunch. Join us for lunch in the Restaurant.
  • 12:00 PM. Café Lunch. If you prefer, enjoy a lighter, buffet-style lunch in the Lounge.
  • 1:00 – 7:00 PM. Optional Excursion: Cognac masterclass blending with Camus. We will welcome you back in Libourne.
  • 2:30 PM. Cast off! Viking Forseti leaves Blaye for Libourne.
  • 3:15 PM. Afternoon Tea. Join us in the Lounge for French tea time. Accompanied by the Live Cooking Demonstration – Learn all about how to make traditional French Macaroons in the Lounge with your Pastry Chef George.
  • 5:30 PM. Viking Forseti arrives in Libourne.
  • 6:00 PM. French Lesson. Join your Program Director Mieke for a casual French lesson in the Viking Lounge.
  • 7:00 PM. Daily Briefing. Program Director Mieke invites you to the Lounge to find out about tomorrow’s excursions and events.
  • 7:15 PM. Dinner. We invite you to join us for dinner in the Restaurant.
  • 7:15 PM. Bar Menu. Enjoy a casual meal on the Aquavit Terrace.
  • 9:15 PM. Presentation: Food & Wine Pairing. Join us in the Lounge for a presentation about the art of foo
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