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Along Aquitaine’s Rivers with Uniworld’s River Royale
Part 2

By Nancy & Eric Anderson
Photography by Authors

the River Royle at night and a city scene on the river tour

hy would you chose a river boat as part of visiting a European city? There are easy answers. You've been moving around with the same bunch of passengers for several days and – like tourists or locals you meet on European trains – many are willing even anxious to give you suggestions on what you do on this vacation in this part of the world. It's like having your own social media group right there showing you what's significant to see. Cognoscenti suggest if you are adding a city tour to a river trip add it at the end so you can benefit from the experiences of those who did it before they boarded the boat.

Our river boat returns to Bordeaux to give us some time in the city itself. Uniworld's River Royale was inaugurated in 2006 and remodeled in 2014. We had sailed on her in 2008 to Provence and we can see the upgrade; she's gorgeous. The boat has a staff of 40 and can handle 130 passengers. It's full. Europe's river boats often are and we tell our friends they should take their cruise now before the rivers get overwhelmed. Passengers as interested in culture and history as much as wine are thrilled to find how many museums Bordeaux has and how accessible they are by the On-Off Tourist bus or even on foot because this is a flat and easy walking city.

old painting of Bordeaux, the cty at night and an On-Off Tourist bus

We listen to a talk about all the historical ships that have used the Rivers Garonne and Dordogne then have an unexpected treat: our Uniworld tour director has arranged a Visitour expedition as evening falls on the city. The guide's fluent in English and her broadcast is hilarious. What a lovely way to spend an evening even if that sounds like something Sinatra might sing.

Bordeaux and the River Royale at night; newspapers printed by compter on the River Royale

A benefit that the River Royale group gets that persons in the other Visitour busses don't is the charm of not having to look for their vehicles in some remote car park and fighting traffic to get home. Plus we come "home" to free bedtime cookies and hot chocolate. And tomorrow's USA Times and other newspapers that, printed by computer, are many hours earlier than we'd be getting in USA.

inside the River Royale

Some of the passengers are repeating back to back cruises, others are saying goodbye and heading into Bordeaux, the 6th largest city in France. Bordeaux, they have read, has 14 museums and they actually, God forbid, say they are going to visit all of them!

Museum of Decorative Art and Louis XV on horseback; scenes from the Aquitaine Museum

We excuse ourselves and slip away to the Museum of Decorative Art. It has a history as most old buildings do in France if they were in the hands of the wealthy at the time of the French Revolution. The mansion was built in 1779, ten years before the peasant revolt that started the revolution. This is the place (top image) to see pottery and porcelain, gold and glass – and Louis XV on horseback and apothecary jars in cabinets. More glorious is the Aquitaine Museum (middle and bottom images) which opened in the former location of the Faculty of Sciences and Letters in 1987. It is huge and visitors could easily spend a full day wandering its halls. France, an influential maritime power used Bordeaux as its main port facing west to the New World and its proud French colonial possessions. Bordeaux became significant in treating tropical and maritime diseases. The Aquitaine Museum has the area's prehistory on display also from ancient Gallo-Roman sepultures to facsimiles of the cave of Lascaux.

exhibits at the Aquitaine Museum
Top: Left a bronze Hercules 2C found in 20 fragments in 1832 in a sewer and restored in 1878. Right bust of Montesquieu, member of the French Academy who wrote The Spirit of the Laws from 1734 to 1748 which established something some Americans forget: the principle of the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Bottom image: the painting above the entrance is the museum's tribute to California!

top: a pair of 1777 pistols refused by the Marine Regiment for naval warfare at the Aquitaine Museum; bottom: map of Vichy France at the Free French Museum in the Centre National Jean Moulin

The Aquitaine Museum has examples of weapons including a fine pair of 1777 pistols refused by the Marine Regiment as being too complex for naval warfare! A mere six minute walk north up the Cours Pasteur brings us to more recent events at the Free French Museum in the Centre National Jean Moulin, namely how the Nazis occupied northern France and how they treated and oppressed the Jews in World War II. The Free French Museum exhibits maps showing how not even the distasteful cooperation of Vichy France in the south saved Jews for imprisonment and execution.

displays at the Free French Museum and an elder lady studying the exhibits

The Free French Museum offers a sobering experience. It was founded in 1967 in a mid 19th century bank building. It is most touching to see an older woman with a cane studying the exhibits so attentively. Who is she? Did she have a grandson who fought for the French underground resistance? We could not bear to stop and ask her.

French Chef Training tour at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux

Our last days in Bordeaux gave us time to enjoy two unique tours Uniworld arranged for interested passengers: "French Chef Training" and how to appreciate Bordeaux wine.

For the Chef Training we had a half day at the Leading Hotels of the World's Grand Hotel de Bordeaux. About ten passengers showed up to learn the magic of French cuisine. The chefs instructing us in how to prepare a great meal seemed unimpressed that one of us wondered, apparently innocently, if British cuisine might not be superior to the French! The students had a scrupulously clean variety of pots, sharp instruments and enthusiastic and forgiving instructors. No wonder they all graduated at the top of the class.

finished products of students at the French Chef Training tour

The finished products were actually amazing. The students looked around expecting to be signed up as replacement chefs but no contracts appeared…maybe we weren't fluent enough in French.

Introduction to Bordeaux Wines tour at the L'Ecole du Vin

The cuisine experience with the luncheon we'd prepared took half a day. Not every tourist has that much time to spare. However an alternative experience Introduction to Bordeaux Wines takes only two hours and still covers an impressive range of subjects at a cost of 39 € per person. (Summer only, by appointment, from 10 am to 12 noon, Monday to Saturday. Lessons take place in the L'Ecole du Vin, one block from the Grand Hotel and across the street from the tourist office.)

Before this "Bordeaux Wine Appreciation" class we had not realized how large the winegrowing appellations of the Bordeaux region were, namely 1.6 times the size of the Rhone appellations, 3.8 times the size of the Burgundy area (that was a real surprise to us), 6.1 times the size of the Beaujolais and 7.1 times the size of the Alsace area.

It's big business. Every year 728 million bottles of Bordeaux are produced for a value of 3.9 million €. Of those 58 percent is aimed at the French market and 42 percent for export. As the students pick up their charts to leave, our instructor says, "Think of this. Twenty three bottles of Bordeaux wine are sold every second of every day in the world!"

top: below the Grosse Cloche of Bordeaux and the old bell of the 15th century town hall; bottom: children at play at the shallow pool by the Garonne River bank

We take our farewell of this exciting French city standing below the Grosse Cloche of Bordeaux and the old bell of the 15th century town hall. The town hall clock was created to let people see the time without looking at the church's steeple next door because the town fathers wanted to lessen the influence of the Church on their people. Yet the pull of the Church in the Middle Ages still continued because here passed the pilgrims en route to regain redemption at the legendary Santiago de Compostella in north west Spain.

Nearby the city's children seem unconcerned with the role of religion in their life: they are too busy sliding and dancing in the spray on the celebrated miroir d'eau, the shallow pool by the Garonne River bank surely created for little people.

Related Articles:

Thoughts About Les Hommes Français; Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination; The Ideal Cruise? A River Runs Through It; Art Ancient and Contemporary In Southwestern France; Rouen, the Port of Paris; In the Footsteps of the Dukes of Burgundy


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Tell Eric what you think of his article.
In the meantime, here are some of the feedback we have already received:


Hey Eric and Nancy! As a fellow Traveling Boy journalist, and as a confirmed WW2 aficionado, just wanted you to know how much I loved your story on Arnhem. Really great stuff, and truly brilliant riveting writing.

I’ve been there twice and covered it on my KNX radio show when I was on LA radio, and your story and evocative photos brought back a ton of wonderful and poignant memories. This could have been an amazingly brilliant military operation – as you both know – that might well have ended the War in Europe maybe a year earlier. However, allied misreading -- and in my view disregarding certain aspects of the situation in Holland -- plus the fact that they dropped the paras over 3 days and not in one huge assault at night (and not in the day as they did) doomed the mission to failure.

Your clever words and great photos brought all this graphically to life, and it should be required reading for anyone interested in any aspect of WW2, and certainly should be read by today’s teenagers. Again Bravo and well done!!!!

John Clayton
Travel with A Difference

We just couldn't leave your website before saying that we genuinely enjoyed the high quality information you offer for your visitors... Would be back frequently to check up on new stuff you post!

Raanana

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What a fantastic write-up!

I could almost copy and paste most of your narrative verbatim as it reflects our fantastic experience with Fantasy Cruises almost to a tee. It was truly one of the greatest vacations my girlfriend and I have ever experienced.

Cheers!
Mike Richard, Editor, Vagabondish.com

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One of my dreams is to go to Alaska by way of cruise. This article very much intensifies the longing for that dream to come to fruition. I simply cannot wait much longer. And I will never again be able to think of a waterfall without picturing myself "nosing up" to it. Thank you for this intriguing, virtual journey.

Sandra Mines, Seattle, WA

Thank you for writing, Sandra. Alaska really is a wondrous place. Re "Nosing up" to a waterfall: we have a different article up at Physician's Money Digest on the same cruise (Small Ship Cruising: Alaska by the Back Door). The third last set of images there shows a crew member filling a jug of ice water from a waterfall while standing in the bow of the ship! Best wishes. Get there! To Alaska one day.

Eric & Nancy

Loved your photos from Alaska! Because I am the Director of Sales & Marketing for Westmark Hotels, I am up in AK and the Yukon quite often to visit our hotels and staff! But your pictures were so enjoyable-love to see the "real" Alaskans!

Heidi Howeiler, Seattle, WA

Hi Ms. Howeiler, That was kind of you to write and yes, you do see real people in Alaska, don't you? Alaskans always remind us off rural Texans or Australians in the isolated Red Centre of their country: hard working, sensible, rolled-up-sleeves people with no affectations. We love your Westmark hotels and we take our hats off to the person who started your company, Chuck West. What a great guy!

Eric & Nancy

Enjoyed your realistic and practical comments on Provence. Always wanted to go there ever since reading Peter Mayle's 2 books on Provence. But the two times I went to France, time was always short, so we spent our days in Paris. And now you say, it is losing its unique charm to tourism. (Sigh). It's always a choice between sharing beauty, and keeping it hidden. The world lurches on. Thanks for your thoughts.

Dette, Iligan City, Philippines

Hi Dette, (Would love to see all your waterfalls), Thank you for writing. Provence is busy in the tourist season but it hasn't lost all its charm or the quirkiness Mayle talks about in his book Provence A to Z. It's still a place to visit. Appreciate hearing from you. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

What a great article, especially regarding Louis XIV. I was not aware there was a contemporary account of his execution. It was fascinating. Thank you!

Celtic fan, Nashua, MA

Dear Celtic fan, Thanks for writing. I didn't know about the account of his execution either till I stumbled upon it. Sad to think that the French revolutionaries thought they could be both judge and jury. We are lucky to have a more elegant system today. Thanks for writing.

Eric & Nancy

Nancy and Eric,

Enjoyed reading your article on Santa Fe, NM. I was in AZ travel nursing in 2008 and 2009 and made it to Santa Fe. Took a lot of pics and really loved walking around the old town while I was there. Hope to be able to take the wife there in the future.

Brett Eidson, Soso, MS

Hi dude! Nice to see your site. It's beautiful. My congratulations.

New York

Hi New York, Thank you for writing. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

Hi www.travelingboy.com! Your web-site is very interesting and I want to tell www.travelingboy.com G'night.

New York

Dear New York,

Thank you for writing. Glad you find the site interesting. We are here for you. Keep visiting.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

This is all genuine. I will return to scan.

Keflavik

Hi Keflavik, Thank you for writing. We are happy you will return.

Eric & Nancy

Good article.

On Behalf Of Diane, Port Ludlow, WA

Thanks for writing from Port Ludlow. We hear that's a beautiful place. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

When I was hurt in a boat accident my life would be changed totally. I really don't post much but thanks for the good times I have here. Love this place. Long time lurker, thought I would say hello!

Miami

Dear Miami, Thanks for writing. It's nice to hear from you. Hope you are getting better. Glad you get some good times at Traveling boy. Good luck.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

Dear friends,

My name is Adelina. I am a 22 years girl from Italy. I was looking for a free translation software and I found one. Program's name is Babel Fish and it supports 75 languages. I installed it but I could not understand how to use it. I am not a computer expert. Can someone help me please on how to run this.The link is here :http://access.im/3/babelfish. I thank you very much for your help.

Adelina, Celaya

Adelina, I didn't want to download it but I saw examples online. It seemed easy. You select the page you want translated, copy it and paste it into the box. You then click on the button to translate. You may have to do one page at a time. You can also use Google to translate a page; that's what I do because I don't want to load too much software.

Eric & Nancy

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Amiable brief and this mail helped me a lot in my college assignment. Thanks you seeking your information.

WordPress Themes, Gray Mountain

We are glad to have been of help. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

What's up everyone? Great forum. Lots of lovely people. Just what I need. Hopefully this is just what i'm looking for. Looks like I have a lot to read.

Spanish John, Benidrom

Encouraging to get your feedback. Glad to hear from you. Thank you for writing.

Eric & Nancy

Nice dispatch (http://www.travelingboy.com/travel-eric.html) - and this enter helped me a lot in my college assignement. Thank you as your information.

Gray Mountain

Hi Gray Mountain,

Thank you for your comment. Your email reminds us all at TravelingBoy how important it is to be accurate in what we write. Good luck with your studies and have a great life.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

Hello people, I just signed up on this splendid community forum and wanted to say hey there! Have a wonderful day!

Jacksonville

Hi Jacksonville, We are pleased to hear from new readers at TravelingBoy. Your feedback encourages us all to do better. Thank you for writing.

Eric & Nancy

* * * * *

What a fascinating bit of Russian history you wrote about! How sad to learn that 100,000 churches were reduced to create skating rinks and such during the revolution, after seeing the photo of the interior of a magnificent church filled with art! War is so devastating on so many levels! The art of their culture is so beautiful as is shown in the image of the painted box! Thank you,

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

Dear Yoka,

Thank you for writing. Nancy is originally Lutheran and Eric is a dour Scot, more used to the frequently cold and often cheerless churches of his native land so we were both overwhelmed to see the beauty of Russian churches. It was kind of you to write, Yoka.

Thank you,
Eric & Nancy

Interesting observations.... Very informative and thought provoking. Questions.... What would be the best way to get from Moscow Airport DME to boat dock? taxi? prearranged limo? prepaid Viking Tours transfer? Any idea on cost and travel time for taxi or limo or Viking Cruise pickup from airport to boat? We shall be flying to Moscow on our own. Do you happen to have an address for the river boat dock that Viking Cruises uses in Moscow? I would be nice to Google map the situation. Thanks,

Robert Hopwood, Ottawa, Canada

Hi Bob,

Excuse the delay; we were on a trip. I do understand your question and will try and get you an answer. The Viking river dock in Moscow was for us in the north part of the city but once we were on the boat it was an easy ten minute walk to the Metro station that had us downtown within 30 minutes. I'm a lot more relaxed at the end of a trip than at the beginning and therefore I always feel taking the cruise-line sponsored trip from the airport to the dock makes sense: What starts right usually ends right.

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Hi Bob,

I’m back with more information. The river port’s address is Northern River Boat Station Leningradsky Prospekt, Khimki. If you Google that you will see it is about 15 minutes’ walk from two Metro stations. http://www.aptouring.com.au/files/documents/17/29022_Moscow2.pdf .

I spoke to Nancy at customer relations at Viking Cruises at the new LNR Warner Center in 5700 Canoga Avenue, Woodland Hills, Calif.

She was very helpful and advises you to take the Viking transportation service. She is biased, of course, but she’s right. Moscow DME airport is 40 miles away on the opposite side of the city, at least two hours driving time. The airport has no Metro station; you’d have to take the Aeroexpress train to Paveletsky station then change to the Metro and go to Rechnoy Vokzal station then take a cab to the port. A cab all the way from DME would cost at least 2000 rubles (more than $70). That’s less than the $60 each that Viking would charge…but…I think you’d be ill-advised to do it on your own. Why start the trip where the potential to screw up is so likely? Moscow taxi drivers are as dishonest as most tourist city cab drivers and probably yours won’t speak English. I think the address in Russian is

BUT...

I strongly discourage you from economizing on this and doing it on your own. Buy the transfer and save money somewhere else.

We have other Viking Volga web articles up at http://travelingboy.com/archive-travel-eric-russia.html and at http://www.ericandersonsworld.com/story.php?id=6LvDg.

Good luck. Great show Canada’s putting on for the Olympics!

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Reseller Hosting, London

Hi, Is it Britni Freeman?

Thank you, we think... We suspect your comments are valid. In fact we think all of us writing for TravelingBoy are starting to get into the swing of things and do a better job -- and your encouragement spurs us to do even better. Thank you for writing. Have a good 2010,

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Dear Nancy and Eric

Thank you so much for the wonderful article on statues in Europe. Statues are my favorite art form and your descriptions were delightful to read - knowledge and fun together. I do still wonder about that foot in Rome...

Peggy - Pasadena, CA

Hi Peggy,

Thank you for writing. We appreciate your comments. We used to be critical of people who can't identify the persons on statues in foreign cities -- until one day a tourist stopped us in our own San Diego and asked us, in vain, for details on a statue we'd never noticed before! We wonder about that Roman foot too. If Eric had stood any closer he'd be in his typical foot-in-mouth position.

Eric & Nancy Anderson

I live in Santa Fe and see and delight in it every day, but your writing makes it sparkle even more. How nice to see Santa Fe through your eyes. Great photos!

Cynthia Whitney-Ward - Santa Fe, NM

Dear Dr. Anderson:

I have followed your writing career for as long as I can remember, and I think the thing I enjoy the most about your travel writing is the sense of joy and discovery that leads the reader to anticipate ever corner you turn in your travels.What a delightful traveling companion you are, and I know have always been, with that wonderfully eternally youthful joie de vivre...I wonder:do you feel that East, West, home is best? And where IS that place you have never been, but want to go most of all,yet? Bring we, your devoted readers ever along!

CAT -- San Diego (Scrips Ranch), CA

Dear CAT,

Thank for taking the time to write to TravelingBoy.com. You are very kind. We don't know that travel writers make the best companions; we suspect they may be obsessed with getting the best photograph or may monopolize the guide with questions so that others don't get to ask what interests them. What place is best? Well, it may be fun to sit in a rickshaw in Beijing or try to master the Metro in Moscow, but -- as you imply -- it is good to get home after trips.

Home is as comfortable as a pair of old shoes and home for many of us fortunately contains family.

We've never been to Easter Island and may have missed the boat (no pun intended) there. The island is losing its innocence; we've seen that happen at Machu Picchu or, closer to home, at Lake Powell in Arizona. So maybe the best travel advice is: Go when you are fit and healthy, before rising prices make a destination inaccessible -- and before hordes of tourists ruin any destination's mystique.

With best Holiday Wishes from Traveling Boy,

Eric & Nancy Anderson

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What a fantastic primer on New York City. I think you have really captured its essence with this exciting overview of its offerings. Well done!

Gillian Abramson - New York

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You describe a city on wheels - er, wings - and an absolutely perfect way to travel. SHOWERS & FLOWERS! Amazing! I love that your passion for all-things-aviation comes through in this story about an almost unbelievable airplane. Thanks for breaking the news in such an engaging way!

Richard Frisbie - Saugerties, New York

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Enjoyed your blog on Romania. Noticed you called Bucharest "The Paris of the East." I wonder, is there any city not called "The Paris of something." I've read San Francisco is 'the Paris of the West,' Buenos Aires 'The Paris of South America,' and even Tromso, Norway 'The Paris of the Arctic.'

Terry Cowan - Fresno

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Hi Terry,

Thanks for writing to TravelingBoy. And thanks for educating me; I didn't know that about Tromso, didn't even know there was a Tromso. I heard Bangkok called the Venice of the East when I was there and, in two weeks, I'm heading for the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg, Russia.

It does become a bit silly, doesn't it? But we are originally an immigrant nation that was Eurocentric. Maybe it gave our forefathers confidence even courage when they took old names, old ideas to the New World with them. I know I feel nostalgic if I drive around Ontario, Canada and see all the British place names.

I appreciate your email. Thank you for writing.

Eric

Eric -

Enjoyed your article on Madrid. I noticed that you find it superior to Rome. Most of the Spanish folks that I meet seem to prefer Barcelona. How would you rate that city?

Samuel K
Seattle

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Hi Samuel,

We loved Barcelona although driving around the city was surprisingly complicated as our maps were inadequate. The cathedral had scaffolding around it so I couldn't get the pictures I wanted but we found the architecture fascinating and the Picasso museum rewarding. We were anxious to get on the road to Costa Brava and didn't have more than a couple of days in Barcelona.

Thanks for writing.
Eric


Great article on Madrid. I've heard there is a rivalry between the people of Madrid and Barcelona. In which city are the people friendlier? How about for hipness? I noticed you were Scottish. I felt a similar thing in Scotland, with a Glasgow v. Edinburgh vibe.

Gary
Santa Monica

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Thank you for writing to TravelingBoy, Gary. We found Barcelona friendlier.

Maybe that's because it's not the capital and it's not so busy either. Maybe it's because the Gaudi architectural influence is pervasive and -- to both its citizens and tourists -- comforting. Maybe it's because Barcelona is the gateway to the work of artist Salvatore Dali, and his spirit catches us. (I don't know much about art but I've seen a lot of Dali's work enough to think he never took himself too seriously and often painted tongue in cheek. Maybe fun people spring for fun places?) Hipness? Madrid is more formal and dressy but Barcelona, I believe, is more hip maybe, again, because it's more fun.

Your points about Scotland are valid. It's more than a joke. The Glaswegians are more down to earth. I think we see it here in the belief that if you had a flat tire in Middle America passers-by would be more inclined to stop and help than perhaps New Englanders.

- Eric

Dear Eric,

I liked the article. As I read it, I was wondering how you as a physician were influenced by Hippocrates. What influence did this historical figure have on the practice of medicine beyond the obvious 'oath.' Why is Hippocrates considered to be such a paragon of medicine? DWA - San Pedro, CA

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Dear David,

Thank you for writing to Travelingboy.com.

Hippocrates is revered because he believed his duty was to the individual patient, not to the community at large. This is a very important premise. The Romans, whose empire followed that of the Greeks, achieved much in health matters by emphasizing clean drinking water and personal hygiene, and created great national works like aquaducts and public baths but wealthy Romans apparently preferred Greek doctors as their personal physicians.

Hippocrates is also respected because he brought intellectual thought to diagnosis. He taught his students to use their five senses in assessing patients and was openly critical of the junk science of his day as practiced by the priest-physicians who preyed on the fear and ignorance of the ill persons who came to them.

It is true that not all medical chools today require graduating doctors to take the Hippocratic Oath but most conscientious physicians base their lifetime commitment to the practice of medicine on the life and teachings of that one man.

Or so I think. Perhaps if we knew more about our heroes they would seem less heroic. But in Hippocrates' case he did leave a record of his thoughts and some of his principles are today as strong as ever.

Thank you for writing, it is appreciated.

Eric


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