How the Anne Frank House Made Me Feel

The Diary of a Young Girl was the first coming-of-age story I’d ever read. 

And it hit me hard for a number of reasons.

So, Anne Frank House was at the very top of my list of places to visit when we arrived in Amsterdam.

The house is the actual building where the Anne and her family — and four others — hid before they were betrayed and captured by the Nazis… CONTINUE READING >>

The statue of Anne Frank outside of her hiding place, now The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Holland

The Diary of a Young Girl was the first coming-of-age story I’d ever read.

Thankfully, I got my hands on it years prior to a mandatory school assigned reading (as a young voracious reader, I ate those up too – but for some reason those assigned books always lacked shine).

Anne’s diary hit me hard.

I was quite a bit younger than Anne was when I read it and was the first time that I felt true yearning pass through me from the pages of a book.

Yearning for life, for love, for adulthood, for answers — all of these became real emotions in me as I read, then immediately re-read Anne’s words.

I didn’t fully understand what was happening outside of her Secret Annex — the war, the Nazis, the utter awfulness of it all — but it wasn’t necessary, it was the story of Anne herself that captured me.

Vibrant, questioning, precocious, yearning Anne. I felt like I knew her, I wanted to know her. I wanted to be just like her – gutsy, outspoken, introspective, full of life.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Holland

Anne Frank House was at the very top of my list of places to visit when we arrived in Amsterdam.

The house is the actual building where the Anne and her family –and four others — hid before they were betrayed and captured by the Nazis.

When we arrived, there was a long line of people winding around the building.

The canal that runs in front of Anne Frank's secret annex
The canal that runs in front of the building, church steeple in the background.

Waiting gave me the time to reflect on the surroundings.

The canal that runs in the front of the building.

The nearby church whose bells chimed the time for Anne.

The surreal feeling of standing in a bright world just outside where eight people languished in a dark world, unknown to anyone standing in my very spot in 1942.

Entering the house, the line of people ran single file, slowly, through the offices below the annex. Quotes from Anne’s diary were stenciled on the walls, and led our way.

When I reached the office on this lower level where Anne and her sister were permitted to bathe on the weekend, I read the quote where Anne writes about peeking through the curtain to the world outside. Curious as to how that may have felt I peeked as well.

The view from the building that housed Anne Frank's secret annex in Amsterdam, Holland. GypsyNester.com
Can you imagine how it must have felt to look out at this vivid world from a dark room?

Staircases in these Amsterdam buildings are just a couple of degrees off the angle of a ladder and, as I climbed them, the full weight of Anne’s story hit me.

Then, I saw the infamous bookcase that covers the opening to the Secret Annex.

It was heartbreaking. The whole story took a turn from surreal to painfully real.

Beyond the bookcase, is an awkward passage into the annex. The single file of people move slowly up the ladder-like stairs and through the rooms. It’s strange, but I don’t remember anyone directing our movement – it just seems like everyone, including myself, just stuck close to the walls in an odd sort of reverence.

The rooms are dark, empty of furnishings (as Anne’s father, Otto, wished them to remain) and so, so sad. As I slowly crept through the rooms, I tried to imagine myself being walled up and having to be completely silent at fourteen years old.

Living behind blackout curtains instead of thriving in the sunlight. In constant fear of being discovered.

Just the thought of it was unbearable. There were a lot of tears flowing in that slow, single file line, including mine.

Anne Frank's Diary has been published in over 70 languages
Anne Frank’s diary has been published in over 70 languages

After the annex, there are exhibits about Anne’s discovery by the Nazis and her death at the concentration camp, along with the story of her father’s futile search for his family and his work toward getting Anne’s diary published.

Anne Frank’s story is tragic, and made even more poignant by two facts; that the allied forces were only a matter of weeks away from liberating all of Europe when she passed away, and that she expressed the desire to be a famous author, which she accomplished only after death.

The last exhibit is a beautiful film. People from all over the world share their personal stories of how Anne’s diary and life story touched their lives. It is a collection of hope.

Somehow, rather than leaving the house devastated (emotional sponge that I am), I left with the feeling of that same hope.

The hope that Anne’s life remains in my heart, everyone’s hearts. A hope that reminds us to be kind to each other.

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See our full feature on Amsterdam

Visit the Anne Frank House website

Make sure the you have time to take this must-do, emotional tour when visiting Amsterdam – the line to enter can be hours long. An option is to get advance tickets, but there is often a waiting list, so plan ahead. The link for tickets is here.

Medieval Mayhem and Martyrs in Minerve

When we venture off the beaten path we often find that the most interesting places are tiny tucked away surprises that we, and almost everybody else it seems, have never heard of. Minerve is just such a place…
CONTINUE READING >> 

When we venture off the beaten path we often find that the most interesting places are tiny tucked away surprises that we, and almost everybody else it seems, have never heard of. Minerve is just such a place.

This southern French village is perched precariously atop a ridge between two rivers, le Brian and la Cesse, which have carved out cliffs that make the spot a nearly perfect stronghold. We must say nearly because we soon learned that it failed tragically under a relentless siege.

But before we found out about that failure we were wildly impressed with the fortifications. Most of the defenses are natural, left behind when water eroded the local limestone into a formidable castle-like formation that certainly looks impenetrable. With a little additional stone work the original inhabitants no doubt felt pretty safe a thousand years ago.

As we approached we marveled at the enormous bridge required to gain entry into the city, and the sheer walls that dropped away on every edge.

Once inside, we were also thrilled by the fact that we had the narrow medieval lanes almost all to ourselves while we explored. It was about that time that Antoine, our guide for the barge cruise along the Canal du Midi that brought us here, pointed out that the street we were walking on was named Rue des Martyrs.

That got us wondering what might have happened here. He didn’t explain until we arrived at a memorial to those martyrs.

At the small monument consisting of a Christian cross and the outline of a dove carved in a stone he began to relay the story of how, after several centuries of safety, the residents found that their security was fleeting. In 1210 the village fell at the hands of the Albigensian Crusade. The tale is one of the saddest we have heard throughout European history.

A relatively small religious sect, the Cathars, was living peacefully in this region when Pope Innocent III decided that he didn’t like their views and therefore they must be wiped clean off the planet. The Kingdom of France was more than happy to oblige in the extermination of the heritcs.

Their heresy mainly consisted of believing in two gods, a good and an evil, and worse yet, allowing women to have nearly equal standing in the church. Obviously it was imperative to eliminate every last one of them.

Once the Crusaders cleared the harmless Gnostics from the nearby cities of Béziers and Carcassonne the relentless zealots set their sights on Minerve. The town’s natural defenses held off a direct attack, so the invaders set up a siege.

Catapults were placed on the opposite walls of the canyons surrounding the city and commenced firing. Several weeks of bombardment finally led to a surrender and the Cathars that lived in Minerve were given a choice, return to the Catholic faith or be put to death.

One hundred and forty refused the offer and were burned at the stake. This was at least slightly better than the crusaders had done in previous cities, there they simply killed everyone whether they were Cathars or not.

After hearing this tale while walking the path of the martyrs we ended up outside a small museum, the Musée Hurepel de Minerve. Stepping inside we encountered something completely unexpected, the entire history we had just discussed brought to life in remarkably meticulous miniature dioramas.

Each scene was accompanied by a detailed description in one of the booklets provided available in a dozen different languages. At first the whole set up struck us as very odd, even a bit off base for such serious subject matter, but within a few minutes we were completely engrossed and the story was forever imprinted in our memories.

Feeling extremely somber by the time we left, we made our way back across the colossal bridge (vehicles are not allowed in the town unless owned by a resident) and began our trek back to the boat. Along the way we had one more stop to make.

Not far from Minerve, Antoine pulled off the highway onto a nearly nonexistent dirt road. We bounced a half a mile or so before stopping, then he jumped out and he led us up a small hill.

At the top we found a few isolated megalithic burial stones, dolmens left behind by the Celts who lived here thousands of years ago, well before the time of Christ.  These were kin to the people who made Stonehenge hundreds of miles to the north.

Like the much larger and more famous archaeological marvel, this also lines up with the sun on the solstice. So while not as overwhelming, we were still duly impressed.

We were also glad to have this dose of celestial alignment help put the day’s earlier distressing history behind us.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our previous adventures in France!

A big thank you to France Cruises for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

The Old College Pry

How do we know when we’ve become too involved in our offspring’s college education?

Is it okay to call a professor to dispute a test score? Should we proofread papers? Should we have access to grades if we are paying tuition? Should we storm the Dean’s office?

This recovering helicopter mom got the straight dope from college professors – and you won’t believe their stories… CONTINUE READING >>

With Back to School in full swing we decided to take a look back at when our oldest first flew the nest to go off to college.

Veronica Writing

It’s hard to let our kids go.

The day our babies head out on their own, whether in the direction of their own apartment or a college dorm room, is a tough one for any parent.

When the time came for our first chick, The Piglet, to fly off on her own, David escorted her to college while I stayed home to tend the nest.

I bravely smiled and waved as I deposited them on the plane — then sat in my car in the airport parking lot and cried like Tammy Faye Bakker on the second day of her period. It was a regular air-sucking, mascara-dripping, please-God-nobody-see-me sob fest.

Not my finest moment.

Back at home with the two remaining chicks, I thankfully was able to focus my helicopter mom hover on their antics. It was a darn good thing they needed me because I might have followed The Piglet to college.

Life went on as well as could be expected until The Piglet’s first semester ended and I didn’t have access to grades. Seriously? I’m paying tens of thousands of dollars for college and I DON’T EVEN GET TO SEE THE GRADES?! WTH?

When I spoke to The Piglet about it, I was told, “Duh, Mom, I’m an adult now and you can’t just look at my records.”

The helicopter mom in me bristled. After all, any hovering mother knows that grades are a large indicator — a snapshot of how a kid’s life is going. But really, is it our business once they go to college?

Turns out The Piglet was correct (damn!).

College students are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which expressly forbids a college or university to disclose grades to parents. Many institutions offer a waver for the students to sign allowing parental access, but personally, I would think long and hard before asking my kid to do this. This is a time in their lives when a bit of privacy goes a long way towards self-reliance and maturity.

According to the University of Michigan website:

“If you wish to find out about your student’s grades and academic standing, the best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. College students are generally willing to share information about grades and academic performance with their parents as they assume greater responsibility for their own lives and are able to discuss academic issues with their parents as mature adults.”

In my case, the U of M website advice hit the mark dead-on. The Piglet strutted off to college as an I-know-everything teenager intent on world domination. Imagine my shock when I received a phone call during her sophomore year asking my opinion on what classes she should take. She hadn’t asked for my thoughts on anything since The Great Puberty Wars.

My year off from helicoptering had done us both a lot of good and I was ecstatic over my new role as an enthusiastic sounding board. Go figure, I was able to simply listen and allow her to sort things out for herself. Progress, indeed.

FERPA restrictions and sage advice from universities aside, professors receive phone calls and e-mails from parents to discuss grades. Even I think this a huge breech of protocol and I’m one of the biggest, crazy recovering helicopter moms there is.

So I wondered, is it ever appropriate for a parent to contact a professor?

“No,” says Ohio State Lecturer Jason Payne, “Once you are in college, you are supposed to be an adult.”

Nevertheless, Payne does receive calls, many times irate, from parents.

He recounted a story about a student athlete who turned in an assignment that consisted of a review plagiarized from a book jacket. Word for word. After Payne issued a failing grade, Mommy called up to give him a piece of her mind. She let him know that her son was a sports star and the first in the family to attend college. “How dare he” give her son such a grade.

Another parent, a college professor no less, explained to Payne that he had proofread his son’s final essay and proclaimed it a great paper. The paper was full of unsupported claims including the “fact” that AIDS wouldn’t exist in Africa if the Africans were Christian — with no evidence to back it up. The icing on this cake came a year when Payne bumped into the student and was addressed as “douchebag“.

I’m beginning to understand the lack of maturity this type of parental involvement begets, as I have met Mr. Payne and he is hardly a douchebag.

Dr. Matthew Ramsey, an Assistant Professor at Salve Regina University is not as emphatic about parental contact. When asked about the appropriateness of parental contact he said,

“It’s perfectly understandable why a parent might want to contact a professor, particularly if they can’t get any answers from their children, or from the administration. Of course, that doesn’t mean the professor is obligated to respond. I’ve always responded to parent inquiries when allowed, and although they aren’t always terribly productive discussions, I think it’s better than ignoring parent requests for information.”

Dr. Ramsey has also received e-mails from less-than-happy parents,

“I got a very long e-mail explaining why my decision to fail a student for plagiarizing was misguided, short-sighted, unfair, etc. It all came down to the claim that this parent’s child would never knowingly cheat, how great this student was, how dedicated, how hard-working and the rest. Parents have a hard time acknowledging that their children are in fact human, capable of making mistakes, stressed out a great deal of the time and sometimes willing to take shortcuts.”

Bill Sinfield, Headmaster of Good Hope Country Day School, related a whopper of story,

“During the time that I was completing my Masters of Educational Leadership at Simon Fraser University, I was waiting outside the office of the Dean of the Department of Education. I was joined by the mother of a student at the school. The lady was clearly agitated and told me that she was there to complain to the Dean about a mark her daughter had received for a Case Study that she had written. According to the mother, her daughter had been unfairly assessed because she had lost marks for poor writing skills.

“The mother’s concern was that those writing skills had been poorly taught in high school, so she should not be held responsible. She said that it was ridiculous that the university should be penalizing students for mistakes in their writing, especially since the public schools in the province were so inadequate. Note: British Columbia public schools are ranked among the best in the world.

“I let her go in to the Dean’s office before me…

“After thirty minutes of hearing through the closed door her shrieking voice and his calm but decisive responses, I knew that the Dean had made it clear that the mark would not change.

The door to his office then flung open, she rushed past me through the outer office, and her last comment was, ‘I’m going to speak to the President (presumably of the University but who knows), about this!’

“The Dean then came to his office door, and with a very strained smile on his face, said, ‘Come on in, Bill.’ When I sat down in his office, I said, ‘That sounded a bit animated.’ He couldn’t contain his exasperation, and he disclosed to me that it was the second time the women had come to him to complain about a mark that her daughter received.”

Both Payne and Ramsey have had suspicions that a parent has written an assignment for a student. Ramsey adds,

“Suspected, yes. Caught, no. And I’m pretty sure there’s no real way to prove it. Students will sometimes tell me a parent (usually a teacher or professor) helped them proofread / edit a paper or assignment, and I’m sure in some cases there might have been more parent input than is appropriate. But unlike typical cases of plagiarism or cheating, there’s very little you can do in those instances beyond reminding the student of their responsibilities, what constitutes cheating.”

Here’s where I shine, I’m just too lazy to be THAT involved.

Actually, behavior like this makes me wonder why people shell out the money for college at all. I mean, seriously, how is this helping?

A college degree may help in landing a job but I’m guessing that once the employer realizes his employee is illiterate he’ll find a replacement and Junior is sent packing. The likelihood of ending up with a boomerang “kid” is deterrent enough for me to keep my big nose out of my kid‘s school work.

So does parental interference affect a student’s development?

“Yes, of course, says Ramsey, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean the effect is negative or detrimental. I have a lot of students who are frequently given pep talks, or threatened, by their parents to keep up with their work, to attend class regularly, etc. Some of them don’t appreciate it, and kick against the traces, but it usually doesn’t affect their classroom performance. And in some instances I think that parent/child relationship has helped some of my ‘flightier’ students buckle down and stay focused.”

Says Payne,

“I believe that smothering parental behavior at the university level stifles a student’s imagination and creative thinking. The danger is that they lose a healthy sense of wonder, the immenseness of all there is to know.”

Heady stuff that. And I personally refuse to be a part of it.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve Deeper:
Are You a Snow Plow Parent? 7 Modern Parenting Terms
9 Things We Wish We’d Known BEFORE We Sent Our Kids to College
Crowdsourcing the ULTIMATE College Care Package
What if My College Kid is Addicted to Online Gaming?

YOUR TURN: You’ve heard my thoughts, what are yours? How much is too much? Is there a middle ground? Should parents have access to college students’ grades? Is it ever appropriate to contact a professor?

Do You Know Juneau?

Juneau, Alaska is the only state capital that has no highway connection to anywhere within the state, or any place else for that matter. Odd for sure, yet the very reason it is so isolated also makes it perhaps the most scenic and interesting of our state government centers…
CONTINUE READING >> 

This time we came by boat. In the past we have flown in, but did Juneau that it is not possible to drive to this state capital?

Yes, Juneau, Alaska is the only state capital that has no highway connection to anywhere within the state, or any place else for that matter.

Odd for sure, yet the very reason it is so isolated also makes it perhaps the most scenic and interesting of our state government centers. There are certainly no others where we could visit a glacier, ride to the top of a mountain, and watch spawning salmon all in one day.

We began by jumping on the Mount Roberts Tramway, partly because it was right by the dock where we came in, but also because we wanted to take advantage of the sunshine. Clear days are a bit of a rarity around here so we didn’t want to take any chances of encountering afternoon showers.

The tram carries up to sixty people eighteen hundred feet up Mount Roberts in about six minutes, with views that are nothing short of spectacular. Thanks to the fantastic weather we could see miles and miles of the Gastineau Channel in both directions.

We also had a bird’s eye view of the city, the ships, and even the airport several miles off in the distance. Once we arrived at the top we took advantage of the trails to climb even higher, which provided a perfect panorama of the surrounding mountains.

It’s no wonder that the tramway is one of Juneau’s most popular attractions, and when we made it back down to sea level we hoped on a bus to another one.

Mendenhall Glacier isn’t really in the city, it’s about 12 miles away, and because it is receding that number keeps growing. As with many of Alaska’s glaciers, warmer temperatures are melting it faster than the snow can replenish the ice.

We didn’t make it all the way to the ice field, instead opting for a view from the overlook on the Glacier Highway. This was the quick way since we only had one day and there was plenty more to see and do. Still, the sight of this massive ice flow with the mountains as a backdrop and a meadow of blazing fireweed in the foreground will remain permanently etched in our memories.

From there we had one more stop to make before wandering around downtown, the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.  While we have seen salmon running before, we can safely say we have never seen anything quite like this!

We get it, people sometimes exaggerate and throw around the word millions just to signify a lot, but after some quick calculations we realized that we truly were looking at about a million fish. Most of these were babies, fry as they’re called, living in four giant tanks well above the fray that was going on outside.

These tanks serve as home until the little guys are ready for release and years of adventure in the open sea before finally returning here. That returning was going on outside and it was quite a spectacle.

Thousands of salmon were fighting their way up a series of stair-stepped tanks that are made to simulate their natural instinct to swim upstream to spawn. One odd thing to us was the fact that they never get more than a few feet away from the ocean.

The entire process of struggling up miles of swift water has been recreated in an area about the size of a football field. Moving through it is designed to be so difficult that it takes weeks to accomplish, just like if they were in the wild.

One big difference is that when they finally make it, they do not get to lay eggs, they are “zipped” open and the eggs are fertilized in buckets. Once they hatch then it is into the tanks that we mentioned before.

This greatly reduces the fish lost to predators and other dangers, making the hatchery much more efficient than Mother Nature.

Heading downtown, we figured we should check out the capitol building but found a few surprises along the way. Turns out Juneau has a bunch of bronze on display. By that we mean statues, lots of statues.

We found a humpback whale breaching near the hatchery, a couple of hard-rock miners digging along the waterfront, a huge bear right in the center of town, and an interesting pooch near the docks.

The bear, known as Windfall Fisherman, and the whale, called Tahku, are both by the renowned sculptor R.T. Wallen, along with several other works around town that we didn’t have time to see.

The miners are a tribute by Ed Way to the men who extracted the areas vast mineral riches, and the dog… well she has a story to tell too.

Her name was Patsy Ann and beginning in 1929 she faithfully served as “The Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska.” Even though she was stone deaf, she somehow knew when a ship was coming in and would scurry down to the dock to say hello.

Sailors from far and wide learned of her welcomes and would reward her with treats, and so the cycle continued until 1942 when she finally said goodbye. Fifty years later artist Anna Burke Harris unveiled a life-size statue of the bull terrier on the spot where Patsy Ann used to greet the fleet.

After a pat and a hug we made it to the capitol, which looks like just about any other office building, but we found one more statue. This one very well could be the most important, because without William Henry Seward there would likely not be any state of Alaska. It would still be part of Russia.

Back in 1867, when he successfully pulled off buying Alaska, many called it Seward’s folly. He proved prophetic though, and the purchase turned out to be a bargain beyond even his wildest dreams. So to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the acquisition the state erected this monument.

The visionary Secretary of State stands proudly holding the deed to his “folly” in his right hand, almost as if he’s saying “take that” to all who doubted.

One thing is for sure, we have no doubt that we are glad he made the deal.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See our social media from this incredible cruise here.

See all of our previous adventures in Alaska!

Narbonne, C’est Si Bon

In France we have found people to be somewhat understated. For example, pas mal, meaning not bad, is a common French saying. But when we made it to Narbonne we could no longer say it. We had to adopt c’est si bon instead…

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In France we have found people to be somewhat understated. For example, our Parisian son in law remarked that we are so excited about everything. Wow, the food is amazing, look at that incredible building, this wine is fantastic, and so on.

So we asked, “What do you say when something is really great?” His reply of “pas mal,” meaning not bad has become an ongoing family anecdote.

When we relayed the tale to the crew of the Clair de Lune  on our Barge tour across southern France, they said that pas mal is a very common French thing to say. With that in mind we began saying it a lot, although it was generally in jest.

But when we made it to Narbonne, we could no longer say it, we had to adopt the rather un-French-like c’est si bon instead. Which means it is so good, for the non-Francophobes.

Our so good day in Narbonne began at an ancient church, which is often the case in Europe, but this was not just any old church. The Basilica of Saint-Paul-Serge has several extremely unique quirks.

First we played find the frog. Our guide Antoine gave us that instruction as we entered and we dutifully searched high and low with no success. Turns out the little amphibian was hiding in plain sight right where we walked in, on the bottom of the holy water stoup.

There seem to be quite a few legends as to how he got there. Most involved some supernatural force called upon to turn him to marble and included priests, bishops, saints, and/or choirs, but none have taken hold as the accepted legend.

Our next surprise was much less fanciful. Antoine got special permission for us to descend a small, out of the way staircase and we found ourselves in the middle of a crypt. Just in case that wasn’t strange enough, several of the graves were open!

Turns out that back around 250 AD the original church was intentionally built over the grave of St. Paul Serge. But the site was also a burial ground for residents going back to the time well before Christ, and that’s how we managed to come face to face with a two thousand year old Roman.

There was one more Roman reminder in the Basilica. Unlike most churches that have been rebuilt several times over the centuries, Saint-Paul-Serge incorporated the original Roman walls, brickwork, and arches into the renovations. These are easily identified along the inner wall that was left standing even after the church was expanded in size.

Our next stop was more delicious than quirky, Les Halles of Narbonne. This classic covered market opened in 1901 and reminded us very much of the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, La Boqueria Barcelona in Barcelona, and the Östermalm Food Hall in Stockholm.

This one may be a bit newer than those, only a little over a century old, but it certainly has all the ingredients for a fantastic food experience. Dozens of booths offering everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to every sort of meat and seafood imaginable, and several of them will even cook it right on the spot. What a way to grab a quick lunch!

From the hall it was only a short walk across the canal to go way back in time, all the way to the Roman Empire again. Narbonne was founded by the Romans in 118 BC and soon became their most important city in Gaul, in part because it was located on the Via Domitia.

This was the road from Italy to Spain, a sort of ancient super highway across southern Europe, and legend has it that this was the route once travelled by Heracles. Whether that is fact or fiction has no bearing on the reality of us getting to walk on a part of it that remains almost perfectly preserved in Narbonne.

An excavation of about fifty feet long and twenty feet wide holds a section of ancient paving stones and is open to the public. We were awed by our ability to stand on the very rocks where countless centurions from Caesar’s armies had marched.

The tiny stretch is displayed right in front of the The Palais des Archevêques, or Archbishop’s Palace, which now serves as the City Hall and a museum.

Just behind the palace is another of city’s historic oddities, the Narbonne Cathedral. This towering ornate structure is actually only half a building because it was never finished. During the construction of one of France’s most impressive churches, the powers that be in the city refused to allow for knocking down the city wall.

This meant that only the sanctuary, sacristy, and choir were completed. We can only say that the result is unique to any of the countless churches we have visited across Europe over the years, with a feeling like it might be taller than it is long.

There was one thing about Narbonne that was not very c’est si bon for us; it was where we finished our trip. That was not even pal mal, it just felt plain old mal.

But even as we were ready to leave, waiting on the train to Paris on our way to fly home, we found an array of Roman ruins just a few blocks from the train station.

The site, known as the Clos de la Lombarde, was unearthed during some construction and became an archaeological excavation beginning in 1973. As more and more frescoes, tile floors, and walls were discovered the find was designated a historical monument in 2007.

While the ruins aren’t spectacular when compared to coliseums or temples we have seen in other parts of the empire, they certainly made for an engaging send off.

C’est si bon

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our previous adventures in France!

A big thank you to France Cruises for helping with this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.