CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast

An Art-Themed River Cruise on AMAWaterways on the Seine River in France (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #7)

January 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast
An Art-Themed River Cruise on AMAWaterways on the Seine River in France (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #7)
Chapters
CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast
An Art-Themed River Cruise on AMAWaterways on the Seine River in France (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #7)
Jan 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Bob Levinstein/Julie Hatfield

A unique river cruise experience sailing on the AMAWaterways Amalegro with an onboard artist/art teacher and painting classes. This sailing included visits to Paris, the gardens at Giverny, as well as a stop at Normandy.  Join my guest travel writer Julie Hatfield as she tells stories from this fascinating cruise.

Show Notes Transcript

A unique river cruise experience sailing on the AMAWaterways Amalegro with an onboard artist/art teacher and painting classes. This sailing included visits to Paris, the gardens at Giverny, as well as a stop at Normandy.  Join my guest travel writer Julie Hatfield as she tells stories from this fascinating cruise.

Speaker 1:
0:16
Hello and welcome back to cruise copy's cruise podcast where we share tips, ideas, and inspiration to help make your next cruise a fantastic event. I'm your host Bob Levinstein. Today's topic is an art themed cruise on the rivers of France on the AMAA waterways. I'm Allegro. My guest is Ms. Julie Hatfield, who spent 22 years as a reporter and editor for the Boston globe. It's now a freelance travel writer for work, is cornered a number of awards including the atrium and Lulu awards for coverage of the fashion industry and the gold prize from the North American travel journalist association for her story about the great bear rainforest in British Columbia. You can find Julie's work@allthingscruise.com we'll be back with Julie right after this
Speaker 2:
1:03
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Speaker 1:
2:07
Well yesterday it's Ms. Julie Hatfield now working as a freelance travel writer. Julie is here to tell us about an art theme cruise aboard the AMA waterways. I'm a Lake row. Julie, welcome to the program.
Speaker 3:
2:18
Thank you. You selected this cruise because of its theme. Can you tell us more about that? Well, it was called art illumination and they told us that we would be on board with an art artist and a teacher, a professional artist, and a teacher who was going to teach us how to paint, which my husband and I had never, we'd never picked up a paintbrush in our lives. And we thought what a perfect opportunity to be a painter in France? No, I'm along the sun river. Wow.
Speaker 1:
2:52
Um, so what, uh, what were the art related programs like on board?
Speaker 3:
2:55
Well, every other day, uh, they set up in the main living room area, uh, ethos for those of us who had signed on, I think it's a 148 passenger boat and I think, Oh, maybe about 25 of us signed on to be artists. So they set up easels in the main room and this is every other day. And, uh, with paints and, and aprons. And there we were beginning to pick up a paintbrush and paint and we had three themes. And the first one was just amazing because we were along the Sen river on the way to Monet's home and gardens in Giovanni that you know about the, um, the beautiful gardens with the, with the Lily pads and so easy to paint. The gardens are just incredible. I've never seen such beautiful gardens. And so we spent quite a long time there and everybody taking notes in their head on what we were going to paint and we got back to the boat and the next day we all painted what we had thought of as the garden. Did you have any?
Speaker 3:
4:16
Yeah. Yeah, she, the artist, um, Elizabeth, uh, gray blur, Greg Miller, um, from California. I think she would give us a beginning of a, of a, did you hear any garden, you know, colors and, and how to start it and background sky and clouds and things. So we had a start with her and then we would do our own thing. The funny thing was that, um, I, I'd say of the 25 people, maybe 10 were, had done, some art had done a little bit of painting. None of us were professional. Most of us had not painted at all, including a dentist from Atlanta, Georgia. And he was really proud that he never had done any painting it on his [inaudible] gardens were slashes of red and um, you know, the gardens are mostly pink and yellow and pastels and we called his painting root canal, but the rest of us tried to do the pink and yellow and little, you know, the Lily pads.
Speaker 3:
5:21
And some of us were pretty successful at the end of the trip. The Ima wasn't very nice and they allowed us to wrap up our three paintings and send them to whomever we wanted to and free, you know, they, they did the shipping. So I sent them to my three children and I got no reaction. I didn't get, Oh, they're awful. I didn't get, they're wonderful. I just got silence. I don't know what the reaction was, but I was pretty proud of him. Very good sign. They haven't asked for more. Actually, Juliana, my daughter said she would like, she, I think she wanted to keep the one I sent her I think, I think it was of the Eiffel tower. Yeah. So, um, other than than, uh, the gardens or were there, what other, um, activities did they tie into? Did they tie into the, well, one day we went to a little town called on FLIR.
Speaker 3:
6:28
Uh, it's been painted by many famous artists because it's just a sweet little town on a, on a kind of a lagoon, uh, 18th, 16th and 18th century townhouses. And so, uh, the artists said, you know, make note of what you see there. These little townhouses connected, they're all passed down and they're, uh, along the waters. So it taught us about reflection, you know, getting these houses reflected in the water. And a lot of us did that some successfully, some not successfully, but that was, you know, that was our second subject to the versa where the gardens in Giovanni, then there was this town of all floor. And at the end of the trip when we were headed back to Paris, of course we had to paint the Eiffel tower and that was harder than I thought. But imagine all of this sounds hard to me, but I have visual memory and not good with this artist was on board because she started as each time, you know, she would give us a background and sky and water and reflection and, and with the Eiffel tower, she definitely started us on how to, how to start that.
Speaker 3:
7:46
It's not as easy as you think, but some history lessons too when you were important seeing these things. Um, yeah. I mean we saw some beautiful places when we were in port. Um, uh, one of them was a Chateau de model based on, which is the former home of Napoleon and Josephine bone apart. That was a beautiful house, just gorgeous. And we got to go through all that. Um, and you know, lots of paintings on the walls. Uh, it was funny, the, the ship had, uh, impressionist paintings. I mean, they weren't probably not real, but they were the look of an impressionist. So we all had that in our mind. And then after we did our painting, some of us put them up on the walls of the ship and with price tags and you know, we, we'd put like 25 euros and then somebody else would cross it off three year. I mean, we really, we had a lot of fun with that. My husband said that he was going to sell his painting of the Eiffel tower and that would pay for our, our Paris trip at the end. He didn't sell it.
Speaker 1:
9:04
I could imagine that. But I imagine having, having some other folks who are on, who are, um, you know, willing to try something new like this, um, uh, maybe makes for some more outgoing,
Speaker 3:
9:17
Oh yeah. I mean that, that's all we talked about. You know, those of us who were paid, that's all we talked about and looked at each other's work and everybody like me thought, Oh, that's better than mine. You know, those are better than mine. We all had a little steady afterward. We would go around and see everybody else's work and it always looked much, much better than what I had done.
Speaker 1:
9:39
Well, you know, it's, uh, I'm sure there were some folks who looked at yours and thought the same thing.
Speaker 3:
9:49
Yeah. Maybe so, but it was, you know, it was all in good fun. And the, the teacher was very understanding too. She was complimenting everybody.
Speaker 1:
9:59
Well, you know, I mean, you can't expect to be a suspect to be an old master the first, the first time out.
Speaker 3:
10:03
No, no. Our first week of painting, I mean, come on.
Speaker 1:
10:08
So what, um, other than the, the, uh, the folks in the arc group, what were the passengers like in general? Were they mostly U S the mix?
Speaker 3:
10:15
Mostly U S um, people who had crews a lot, had a lot of experience. Um, of course people who love Paris because you start and end in Paris and a lot of people who are history buffs because the troop, the trip did stop in Normandy and uh, we had already been to Normandy, which is very moving trip. So those of us who hadn't been there, spent a full day on the beaches and you know, learning about that history of world war II is very, very moving trip.
Speaker 1:
10:51
The numbers, the numbers and logistics involved in that whole thing. The whole human side.
Speaker 3:
10:56
Yeah. And the names, you know, the American names of young, young soldiers who died over there. Just really, really a good, a good trip all around. Um, so tell us more about the ship itself. Beautiful ship. Um, I don't know if I should use names, but, um, we found it to be a lovely cruise company.
Speaker 1:
11:21
Well, you're free to use any names you want. We're here to help folks learn about the different cruise lines.
Speaker 3:
11:25
Okay. Well we, most recently we took a Viking cruise and biking. I know it just overdone it on commercials, TV commercials, and they're a good, good line. But when we compare it at the end, we really preferred UMMA because of a couple of things. Well, Viking, the boat we were on was a very small one of their smaller boats, so it had one small restaurant and no others. And the AMAA trip, um, had two restaurants. It had the one main one, which was wonderful. And then they had a thing called the chef's table, which you could sign up for it. You didn't pay extra, but you, you know, you had, it was a smaller group so you had to get your time in. So we went to that and it was just amazing. You would watch the chef working to put together as a meal using local ingredients and just beautifully done.
Speaker 3:
12:23
Um, so that was, um, I always use anything French, anything French that I gather up. Yeah. Yeah. I try for the French and you know, this trip, the trip starts and ends in Paris. So good eating there and lots of good French eating on board too. And the food is wonderful. And yeah, the people were very, very well traveled and fun to be with. And, um, they had a lot of, they always had activities at night, which I couldn't do because I was writing my blog. But you know, they have local people come in and do their dances and singing and there's always dancing and you know, a good, a good musician on board.
Speaker 1:
13:17
The difference with a river cruise where you know, you can have people hop on and hop off and go home. Whereas a,
Speaker 3:
13:23
and the other thing about yeah, as compared to Viking has bikes on board, they have bicycles ready for anybody. Whenever you stop in a port, one day we took the bikes and spent the whole day biking and that was really great. Gets you get your exercise and then you come back out and you eat and eat and eat. So I was really appreciative that they had bikes.
Speaker 1:
13:49
So they have, I knew, I knew, uh, you know, here we've got bikes with water bottle holders. They have wine bottle holders for friends. I did see a guy riding up, uh, right around mu. I was at Melbourne to uh, watching the storefronts and took a picture of a guy riding a riding big basket, fresh bread in the basket and the bottle of wine in his hand that he was drinking.
Speaker 3:
14:15
Nice. My first biking trip, my husband and I have taken I think a dozen biking trips and in fact we have a book about biking called 30 years on two wheels. And my first trip was in France and I took like wine in my water bottle instead of water, but I soon learned it would be better to take water. Well really if you, if you train,
Speaker 1:
14:39
drink and bike you get, um, I used to be a triathlete and spent lots of time in the back of a bike. He was generally not wine. No, but there are a lot of beer rides around here and biking is very big in the state for, you know, when you can bike. A lot of them are a lot of rails to trails and biking bar and having a few drinks and ride home is, is a big thing. But I found when I first started, I had no had no, um, no wind. You know, I couldn't, you know, after one it was like a kid and brief. But if you do that, if you start doing it and it can't be recommending that, but yes, you've got to do that. So your, your, um, your biking trips where they organized through a tour company, like back roads.
Speaker 3:
15:30
Um, but it feels in Robinson were the main ones. We've done a couple of Backroads. It's funny, when we went on a back road strip in California, speaking of wine did, the people were so serious about biking and biking, the optional extra miles. And they said when, when when we gathered for dinner, they would say, Oh, we don't drink mine at all. We're, we're Viking. We got to get up in the morning. And so, you know, it wasn't as much fun as a Butterfield and Robinson, which is out of Toronto and they believe in wine at night, at night after work.
Speaker 1:
16:06
Funny. I mean I have, I've, I've always encountered a mix of folks on the back row strips, breakers and but something not [inaudible].
Speaker 3:
16:17
Yeah, we did a nice trip with them, uh, in the wild Valley about a year or two ago. And that was a good group.
Speaker 1:
16:27
Yeah, it really, you know, you're really, um, the best part really about the Backroads trips is the guides in any other people. You're with the scenery, obviously. Well, again, the food is great too. It's really who you're with and, and you know, are they outgoing and funny or,
Speaker 3:
16:43
yes. Yes. Do you know, are you familiar with Butterfield and Robinson? Not at all there. They're an old one. They've made it, they started the whole idea liking in Europe and they, their guys are wonderful and they're food. Just the best food and drink and the chateaus. Oh, I bike, our bike book is called 30 years on two wheels, a biking Odyssey and available on Amazon. It's available on Amazon. Absolutely. Two wheels. If you're listening with 30 years on two wheels, 30 years on two wheels biking Odyssey by Julie Hatfield and Timothy Leland. And it's got good pictures and talk about food. Some people read the book and they say, this is a food book. It has nothing to do with biking. There's so much food in it. We'd described some of these incredible meals in France mostly.
Speaker 1:
17:42
Wow. Well getting back to the river cruising size, um, any, uh, any packing advice? Well, you
Speaker 3:
17:50
know, it's not like the great big huge ocean cruises that some of them still have the formal wear MSC. I noticed, you know, MSA, you're familiar with MSC, they're great big company and uh, I did a Mediterranean cruise with them and they want the full tuxedo and long gown and everything else. But the river cruises, you don't need to do that. Um, you know, for a woman, pretty jacket and evening jacket type thing for her blouse is good enough. Even with black pants you can wear a dress if you want. I brought a few dresses along and people like to change clothes for, you know, nighttime for dinner. I don't think a man needs to bring a jacket. Even just a nice shirt, you know, as long as it's not jeans, jeans, tee shirts, you know, not a space. It takes up and you're lucky.
Speaker 3:
18:55
Yeah. And then if you are going to bike on the cruises, you know your biking clothes are good. They have clips. Ours did not, did not. I tend to travel with my bike. I travel with my own pedals and shoes cause you like to do the clips. I get scared with those. Well you know if you, here's what I tell anybody who asks me about clips is the first couple of times you will fall over. Dad will be a comical slow motion they can see on your face, you know you're going to fall and there's nothing you can do about it. The only thing that will be injured is a, is your pride and dignity.
Speaker 3:
19:38
They do. I the first time I said no more clips and you know, you just get a little bloody and scratched. I have broken my wrist three times but not, not biking in clips, volleyball and other things, roller skating. So no biking. I've had no serious, serious injuries and certainly on river cruises, nothing. I haven't had enough wine on the bike. I'm glad I brought, I had an Indian real fancy satin jacket that I brought out at the last dinner and that was much appreciated. People really like to see something different and dressy at the end. You know, your last night it's kind of a celebration and on the first night you would have been the jacket lady for the whole cruise and impressions about the trip. That trip was just beautiful and now I hear that you have to have a group just sign up for the art crews. They don't just do it regularly. So that's, that's a shame because so many people who would like to just play it painting, you know? I think, yeah, I don't know. Maybe when the river cruising and want to do other things,
Speaker 1:
21:05
maybe they just need to, we need to find like a fans of Bob Ross subreddits and those folks know how many different kinds of cruises now. Any, any overall river cruise advice?
Speaker 3:
21:21
Well, you know, my husband first thought that river cruising was for people who were completely sedentary. He said, don't let me go on one of those till I'm 85 years old. Then I got him on one before he was 85 and he said, especially when it got to biking, he said, all right, all right. They're not sedentary. They're not just for old people who eat and do nothing else. So he realized there's a lot more going on with the river cruises and that
Speaker 1:
21:53
it's a true case that they stop you. You know, you're, you're pretty much right in the center of things when you get off the boat and you're largely walked into a lot of things.
Speaker 3:
21:59
Yeah. And usually there's amazing towns. Um, one of our cruises started in Budapest and that's really exciting to, you know, to see those places get on and off the boat. Where your top three? My very top would be. Um, Venice number one, my favorite city in the world. Wow. Um, I don't think they have river cruises to annex, which is too bad. I have biked to Venice. Um, second, of course. Paris. How can you not love Paris? And maybe the third would be anywhere along the Italian Riviera.
Speaker 1:
22:49
Well then you can, you can use your Italian too. Yeah. You gotta like that. Easy to be there, you know, and speak the language. It makes a huge difference. I did a lot of fashion writing from there. Oh our God. Yeah. This is number one and I hope they can save flooding. Yeah. That's been their challenge forever. Yeah. Well, Julie, thank you so very much for sharing your experiences with us. Very welcome. I hope for you've inspired some listeners to uh, to try out a river cruise. It's seems to be what people graduate to once they get a little bit of Caribbean fatigue and it's been to those ports too many times that are already be something different. It's a wonderful way to go. Well, my guest has been travel writer, Julie Hatfields. Uh, you can find Julie's work all things, cruise.com and of course on Amazon, uh, 30 years on two wheels. I think, uh, definitely a great book to a pickup if you're interested in bikes and food. So thank you for listening to us and have a wonderful day. Bye.
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