We walked out of the hotel just before 7:00 and by 8:00 we were in the departure hall sitting down for breakfast. After that Bev and I did some shopping. This is the first time we’ve flown Premium Economy and it was so comfortable. The air steward organized espressi for us from Business Class. He also got us Poilly Fume from business class to go with our lunch. Bev and Eric were in comfort plus and he treated Eric to the same wine as Bev had given him a list of things to do in Cape Town. The staff have a 3 day layover and the suggestions were most appreciated. So much so that Eric even got a tour of the crew bedroom. The food was great but it was odd having our main meal at lunch time, in the European tradition. Bev and Dave swapped seats for a bit which was really nice as Bev and I could chat and Eric and Dave could do the same. It took us 20 minutes to get through passport control and collect our cases. Phil fetched us again and again it rained as we got home. It was good to be slobbered by a Boxer so happy to see her parents. We walked 3km despite being on a plane all day.
We were up early and off the barge, having squeezed all the luggage into the car, by 8:50. We set a route heading for Troyer, avoiding the toll roads and drove through the Alsace Route de Vin. In Saint Marguerite we sat outside the McDonald’s and got onto their wifi to check in. Dave and I upgraded to Premium Economy. We then went in for coffee when they opened. I’ve noticed a lot of Magen David’s cut into shutters and etched onto signs and windows. We climbed 600m on the Col de Hauf which I need to look up to see if it’s on the Tour de France route. Unfortunately this climb caused me to get car sick, something that’s not happened to me for a while. We crossed the Moselle and the Canal L’est before stopping at Andelot-Blancheville for coffee at La Canderal Bar (nothing to do with the sweetener). Eric swapped seats with me which helped ease the nausea. From there we headed on the toll roads for Paris. We got off the A5 and had a picnic lunch in Clairvaux which is in the Champagne region. We then got back onto the A5 and had 2 coffee stops at service stations along the way. The car’s GPS is better than the Garmin at finding. Petrol station en-route. We stopped for Petrol 20km before the car rental return at Charles de Gaulle and put in 43.69L of fuel at a cost of €60.03 for the 572km of travelling we had done. From there we went to the Ibis Hotel at the airport where we had problems with checking in and our room key card. Once that was sorted out Dave and Eric went to drop off the rental car and figure out the shuttle. The gentleman at the Airport Information Desk was most helpful and the shuttle is the free service offered by the airport between all the terminals and the car park. Once they were back we went to Bar Rendezvous for drinks and then Sua & Cie for supper. We finished off the cheese and pâté before heading off to bed.
As the generator wasn’t working the hearing was working off the battery which went flat at 4:45. I ended up having a lukewarm shower so Dave turned the engine on and waited for the water to heat up before he went to shower. The heater battery had to charge before the heating started up so it was a cold start to my morning. After we were dressed we walked out of the parking lot and turned right, finding Au Cho’ Pain just over a blockaway. We bought croissants and a baguette and went back to the barge for breakfast. Our first lock was a guard lock which closes only if there is a flood. We crossed the drainage canal for the Ill and an hour and 35 minutes after we left Kraft we moored in Boofzheim. After lunch Dave and Eric caught the taxi to Benfeld which cost them €18 and a train to Strasbourg at a cost of €12.20. While they were fetching the car Bev and I walked to Rhinue. There we found a shop selling electronic goods and I bought sous vide bags. The gentleman at the store told me that they are embossed so I hope that they are, and that they work. After that we went to the Super U to do the shopping. We walled back to Boofzheim and bought pastries and a baguette at Benette. The lady gave us an extra tart so we had a lot of dessert that night. Dave and Eric picked us up after we had to SMS them as they drove straight past us. We dropped the groceries off at the barge and went to Benfeld and had coffee at Au Brocket. I had chosen a local Alsace wine called Sylvaner to drink with dinner. Dave won the canasta game and we had a fairly early night. Today I walked 6.7km.
At 9:15 Bev and I caught the tram into the central shopping district. We bought blueberries at Monoprix, a few things at Hema and socks at Printemps. We then went for coffee at Pizza de Nico where we shared a pain au chocolat. After that we walked to Place de Halles to get dinner and then caught trams back to the barge. We were back by 13:30 and had lunch and got going at 14:45. Eric let me off to walk to the lock but the gate at the end of the lock door foot bridge was locked and so I was on the wrong side of the lock. These ones are going up so we have to tie up. Dave managed with one rope and once the lock was full I got back on the barge. After the lifting bridge we had to turn sharp left and look carefully for the arrow pointing us in the right direction. Despite being told that there are sensor beacons we’ve been pulling the lock activation ropes even if there hasn’t been a sign to do so. To the right of us are the Grand Ried Wetlands. We did not stop at the Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Chêne which was built in 1447 and used as a pilgrimage by men who steered barges. At lock 81 a piece of wood caused the one door to not open. Before Dave could get off to call them a lock keeper arrived. We were told to tie up as the repairman could not come straight away. Dave understood he would come at 7 and it was now 18:00. Dave was not sure if they meant am or pm and as this lock closed at 19:00 it made no difference. Not 5 minutes later someone arrived, sorted out the electronic problem and we were on our way. We tied up at Kraft for the night at 18:40. From now on the locks close at 17:30. Our generator starter doesn’t work so we ran the heater off the battery. We had a late evening playing cards. I’m losing this round of canasta thus far. Today I walked 5.5km.
After Facetiming my dad for his birthday we set off to explore Strasbourg.
Our visit started at Au Pain de Mon Grand-Pere with croissants and kuegelhopf. The croissants we ate while walking around a street market. We bought a selection of olives to snack on. We could have got some amazing mushrooms if we hadn’t already bought some. Worth keeping in mind for this time of the year. We then went to Café bretelles for coffee. After that we walked to the Cathederale Notre Dame which is so impressive.
This is a stunning area to just wander through, avoiding all the beggars, street hawkers, and tour groups if you can. Bev and I went to Galleries Lafayette while Dave and Eric went for a beer. From there we walked through Petit France and ended up close to the Cathederale for lunch. We had bowls of soup at Le Pilier des Angel and from there Eric came back to the barge. We carried on to the site of the Great Synagogue of Strasbourg which was built in 1898 and razed by the Nazis in 1941.
Our next coffee stop was at La Rive Gauche. By then it had started drizzling so we hopped onto a tram. We bought 2 24-hour passes for €6.80 each which is quite a bargain. They are for up to 3 people which worked out well for us. We went to do the shopping and came back to the barge, 7km and 7 hours after we left. We had another relaxing evening. I won the canasta game!
At 9:50, after breakfast and getting messages via wifi we walked into Hochfelden.
Mateor is a huge brewery having been founded in 1640 and produces 45000 bottles per hour. This is the focal point of the town. We bought croissants from the first bakery we came across and walked down the street eating them. We had coffee at Laugel before Dave and Eric went to do a tour of the brewery. Bev and I went shopping then back to Laugel for baguette and cheesecake.
We found the market which is outside the museum and is open on Tuesdays but closes at 12. We went back to Le Rondez-vous du Canal for coffee and ended up ordering rhubarb tarts to cover the costs of using his wifi. Everyone checked emails and we got on our way at 13:00. At lock 42 we entered a pull chain system. A duck and her ducklings came down lock 44 with us. We ate lunch on the stretch between lock 45 and 46. Lock 47 was the start of another chain and the light system in the lock has changed. Lock 48 had a lock keeper who also operated the swing bridge. We wanted to tie up to walk to Vendenheim but there was no space to tie up due to the moorings being taken up by barges that look like they are there permanently. The lock keeper followed us to lock 49 to tell us to tie up. There’s been no reason for us to do so, thus far, other than at the lift. At lock 50 the book told us to tie up but I’m not sure why. We were not pulled towards the front gates at all as warned. Entering the outskirts of Strasbourg are big apartment buildings with allotments across the way from them. The pull rope at lock 51 was very close to the permanently parked barges. We went past the Conseil de L’Europe and then entered the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. We moored up at 18:00 at Quail des Belges at a cost of €47 for two nights. We didn’t venture out as it’s raining and cold. We had a huge supper, played cards and went to bed. We walked 6.2km today.
We woke up early as the barge we had parked in asked us if they could leave at 8:00. Despite us opening the curtains and walking outside they pretended not to see us. Eventually they left at 8:45 and we had breakfast. At 9:30 we walked into the old part of the town, starting at Place du Général de Gaulle. This pedestrian only zone had lots of nice looking shops, many of which were closed. We walked to the end of the old town, then back to the Carrefour Express where we did some of the shopping. At the start of our walk was a coffee shop so we went back to Haushalter and had coffee and tarts. Dave and Eric went back the way we had come via the charcuterie and boulangerie. Bev and I walked to the other end of the old town and found the Super U. We did the rest of the shopping and walked to the barge a different way from which we had come. We got everything unpacked and left Saverne at 12:15. Dave was told by the harbour master that locks 26 and 27 were closed for the next 2 days due to being broken. We entered a pull chain series of locks at lock 32 and came out at lock 36 in Steinbourg at 13:35. There is a holding pound between locks 34 and 35. Lock 37 starts the next chain and after it we tied up at 14:10 for lunch. At 14:45 we went for a walk into Dettwiller. If you are looking for the shoe factory you need to tie up after lock 36. There was not much to see in the town and I could not make out the Devil’s Claws on the Church. We got back to the barge at 15:25 just as a large cruise barge went past us. They got to lock 38 first, meaning we could not get through the lock we had triggered. On this route I don’t suggest stopping in the middle of a chain as the automatic system does not seem to be working. At 15:55 we got through to the lock keeper who said he was sending someone. Half an hour later Dave called back to be told lock 42 was broken and they would send someone to us when it was fixed.
Dave and Bev went for a walk, Eric went to do the puzzle and I went to start cooking, so we missed the lock keeper who took all of 30 seconds to reset the lock. A couple of minutes after he drove away we were off again. It took us from 17:00 to 18:20 to get to Hochfelden to tie up for the night. There are no services here so we used the generator for heating. We went for drinks at Le Rondez-vous du Canal. They have the longest wifi password I’ve come across with 30 digits/letters to enter. We had a late night playing canasta with Bev in the lead. We walked 5.5km today.
Dave woke up and went to the bakery to buy croissants, baguettes and pastries. After having croissants for breakfast we left Niderviller at 9am. We went through the Niderviller tunnel at 9:25. It was a short one at 475m long. We entered the Arzviller tunnel at 9:35. That one is 2.306m. At 10:30 we tied up at Arzviller and walked around. The museum has a 7600 piece replica of the lift.
At 11:35 we entered the lift and were lowered a fair distance which would have been 17 locks. At 12:15 we entered lock number 18 heading down, which we had to wait for. We went straight in to the next two locks and then tied up for lunch at 13:10 in Lutzelbourg. We walked around the village and sadly the crystal cutter was closed as there were some lovely things in his shop. We had an issue with triggering the automatic system at lock 21 so I called the lock keeper who came to manually trigger the gates. We set off at 15:10 and in the next luck we triggered the gates too soon but thankfully the lock keeper drove past on his way back as this happened. At lock 23 there is a small self service farm stall selling preserves and baked goods. At lock 29 we went in too soon. I told Eric to go while the light was red so totally my fault. But the gates were open. The light changes are very slow. So, we called the lockeeper keeper. Thankfully it was a different person. The last lock for the day was very slow. It took us into Severne and we tied up at 18:00. The cost for the mooring is €15.88. We went for drinks at La Licorne and then came back to the barge for a delicious dinner. A really great day on the barge and we managed to walk 4.3km.
We had a very slow start to our morning. After breakfast and checking out of the hotel we left Eric sitting in reception with all the luggage. He has a sore throat and felt confident we could do the shopping without him. Dave, Bev and I walked to the Carrefour and bought what we need for the first two days on the barge. After that we stopped for coffee and I bought some Bach night rescue pastilles.
We walked back to the hotel and waited for the taxi we had booked to collect us. Once we got to Hesse we had lunch and waited for the Le Boat office to open. We unpacked and left the barge basin at 15:30. At 16:20 we tied up at Niderviller for the night. The cost is €22. We’ve tied up here to get shore power for the night as it’s really cold. We walked into the village and visited the porcelain factory which has been operating since 1735. It was then back to the barge and we had snacks and drinks. Dave made supper and we had strawberries and cream for dessert and cheese and crackers to end our meal. Today we walked 7.3km.