Thursday May 24th and Friday, May 25th
We (Barb & Brett) parked at the RTD parking lot, last stop before DIA. Left DIA on American Airlines to Chicago O’Hare. Then flew to CDG on American Airlines (ok flight sat next to bathroom.) Got lost at CDG! You must go to baggage pickup even if you have carryon, because the Air France flights are at different terminal (2F). Bob & Gail had made the flights so we ended up in no-man's land between passport control and security without a boarding pass. Caught Air France to Rome. Took taxi to our hotel 1 block from the Colosseum, B and B 2nd floor. The room was nice and modern. We met Kye (our daughter) there and went to dinner at Oppio Café near the Colosseum.
After dinner we walked around the Colosseum.
Figure 1: Bob, Brett, Kye, and Gail in front of the Colosseum.
Right across the street from our hotel were some ruins (10’ feet below the current grade). The ruins were of the gladiator training academy. There was a tunnel from the ruins that connected to the Colosseum.
Saturday, May 26th
The next morning, we walked down the street to a bakery and had breakfast. We then walked to the Pantheon. On the way to the Pantheon we passed a lot of roman structures that are being restored.
Figure 2: Restoration of old structure.
The pantheon is in great shape because it became a church. The Catholics removed the pagan gods and put up saints. The pantheon is an amazing dome structure.
Figure 3: Kye in the Pantheon Figure 4: Barb with the dome above.
On the way back to our hotel we stopped and had lunch. The waiter at the restaurant spoke good English and had family in Canada. We also stopped by Trajan’s fountain, which had been recently cleaned.
Figure 5: Kye and Barb at Trajan’s Fountain
After lunch we took a tour of the colosseum, Nero’s palace and the Roman Forum. Our guide was excellent. The tour was the “Walks of Italy”.
Figure 6: View looking into the colosseum from one of the high tiers.
The colosseum wooden floor has been partially restored. The Nero’s palace tour was very nice.
Figure 7: Ready to go on the Nero's palace hard hat tour
Nero’s palace had been buried for over a 1000 years when it was rediscovered in the 1500’s. It has slowly been dug up since then and is an active archeological dig site. Part of the tour was a virtual reality presentation that showed you what it would probably have looked like to walk around Nero's Palace. After Nero’s Palace the tour went to the roman forum. The area of the roman forum was buried by silt and became a cow pasture. We next went to Palpatine hill and visited the ruins there. A great view of the Roman forum can be found from the west side of Palpatine Hill.
Figure 8: Bob and Kye checking the Roman forum.
Figure 9: The green door shows where the ground level was before they started digging up the forum.
The structures that were maintained typically were turned into catholic churches. We saw at least two partial statues that were just feet or toes. Palpatine Hill is where the Roman emperors had their palaces. There was an interesting structure that was the water supply for the emperors; it consisted of an aqueduct and cisterns. We did not have time to really do justice to Palpatine Hill, we basically shut down the park. We walked back to our hotel past the Colosseum. We walked about 15 miles that day.
Figure 10: A toe sculpture on Palpatine Hill
Kye had gotten reservations before we had arrived in Rome at Royal Art Café on the roof terrace. We were right across from the Colosseum. The food was fantastic. Score one for Kye.
Figure 11: Eating dinner across from the Colosseum
Sunday, May 27th
We went back to the same bakery that we found the previous day for breakfast. Then we set out for the Baths of Caracalla. Most of the walls of this huge complex are standing. This bath complex was built in 212-216 AD. This was the second largest Roman public bath (The Baths of Diocletian is the largest) and is one of the seven wonders of Rome. They used these baths until the city was sacked in 430 AD. When the area was dug up to recover quality stone in 1500’s many statues were recovered. See Farnese Bull and Hercules at Naples museum. There is a nice virtual reality walking tour, very much worth the money.
Figure 12: Kye and Brett at beginning of Baths of Carcalla, note VR in Brett's hand
The different pools (frigid, heated, normal) were huge. The workout areas at each end were two stories. There were two libraries (rolls of papyrus). Parts of the mosaic floors were still intact.
Figure 13: Mosaic floor at baths of Caracalla
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped and explored Circus Maximus. Circus Maximus was a market area and games area during the Roman era. This area was completely repurposed during the post roman times. Since it had water running to it was used to grow crops.
Figure 14: Gail reading poster at Circus Maximus
On the way back to our hotel, we went under surviving parts of an ancient aqueduct. The parts of the aqueduct are being held up by series of horizontal cables.
Figure 15: Horizontal cables supporting ancient arched aqueduct
The horizontal cables keep the arches from spreading, which is what causes arches to fail. We had a hard time finding lunch, most restaurants were closed (Sunday). We ate at Restorante Colosso “Luzzi”, it was a good meal but not like last night’s meal. We gathered up bags and started a walk to the train station. This took about an hour. Overall we could spend more time in Rome; we only saw a small part of the ancient Rome. I would like to spend more time looking at recent archeological digs and the largest Rome bath, Baths of Diocletian (turned into 3 churches). We caught the train to Naples. Once in Naples we walked to our hotel, Hotel Ibis Styles Napoli Garibaldi. We found a restaurant that was nearby for dinner.
Monday May 28th
The Ibis hotel had a very good breakfast even by American standards; eggs, ham, pastries, fruit, yogurt, etc. After breakfast we started out for the museum of archelogy. Most of the good artifacts from Pompeii are there along with many statues from ancient Rome. We spent all morning there, by the time we left we were pretty burned out on ancient artifacts. One cool thing was the sundial that shines into the main hallway at noon. The sundial shows the current date, i.e., May 28th.
Figure 16: Atlas holding up the world, from Roman era.
We ate lunch at a café near the museum, and then took a walking tour suggested by Rick Steves. Naples is very run down, almost a ghetto. There is graffiti on most buildings. When we almost back to the train station, Brett had his IPhone stolen by pickpockets. It happened so fast nobody really noticed until after it was done. It was in Brett’s front shirt pocket! So, from now on all pictures are from Barb’s phone. That night we ate at a Pizzeria that originally we just stopped to get a beer at. During dinner a fight broke out in the square next to us. Since we were just in a tent it was a little frightening.
Tuesday May 29th
We had breakfast in the hotel again. Then we took a train to Pompeii. The metro(sub) train station was part a large underground mall near our hotel. We got off at the ancient Pompeii station, not the modern Pompeii station. Once inside the ruins we wandered around looking at the ruins. Pompeii has been being dug up since the 1500’s. Water flowed from fountains all through the city. We did see water valves at the museum in Naples, but I think that was just for interior use on wealthy houses. We got our water from the same fountains.
Figure 17: Fountain where the Pompeiians got their water
The Romans were pretty advanced, but they still used their streets as their sewers. To keep from stepping in the foul water, they had stepping stones, that would also accommodate wagons.
Figure 18: Bob and Brett at Pompeii, note stepping stones in street
We found the amphitheater at edge of the city.
Figure 19: Another Amphitheater picture at Pompeii
Figure 20: The inside of the amphitheater at Pompeii
One of the buildings that still had a roof in Pompeii, was the men’s bath house. Since the roof was of concrete and had dome shape it was able to withstand the onslaught from the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. Inside the bath house were many frescoes and evidence of the radiant heating system. The storage areas had very interesting statues.
Figure 21: Statues decorating the storage bins in men's bath house at Pompeii
We had to leave Pompeii sooner then we wanted so that we could see Herculaneum. We took the train back to Herculaneum (modern) and walked 8 blocks or so to the entrance of the site. The site was first “discovered” in 1709 but was forgotten when Pompeii was discovered. Pompeii was much easier to excavate. However, Herculaneum was a much wealthier town during the Roman era. We had seen much of the artifacts from Herculaneum at the museum in Naples. The buildings were in much better shape than Pompeii. You approach Herculaneum from above since it was buried by 60’ of ash.
Figure 22: Herculaneum approach, note boat sheds at bottom of picture
One the most interesting areas was where the skeletal remains are. This area was on the beach (boatsheds); archeologists think that Herculeans were waiting to be evacuated, but did not make it.
Figure 23: Skeletal remains of people who did not get away from Heculaneum when Vesuvius erupted.
Figure 24: At bath house, note the marble.
We had to leave Herculaneum to get back to Naples for a dinner reservation. We lucked out and caught a train that was running late. We ate at Trattoria da Giovanni near our hotel. It was very good.
Wednesday May 30th
We ate at the hotel Ibis again, very convenient, but just like eating in any nice hotel in the US. We booked a van tour to the Amalfi coast. Our guide was Tony.
Figure 25: The group above Sorrento
We really liked Sorrento, we would stay there. We visited the little towns along the coast. The traffic was un-BELIEVABLE. We had to wait for two buses that got stuck in a 50’ long tunnel that was at the curved end of a hairpin curve. We had a wonderful lunch overlooking the coast, that our guide set up.
Figure 26: Gail and Kye at the restaurant for lunch along the Amalfi coast
After a long lunch the tour guide took rural roads back to Naples. We ate dinner at the Hotel Vergilius Billia, Kye had octopus, the food was ok. Naples is a very run-down city, very depressing. There are very rough areas that we came through between the Archelogy Museum and the train station. If we were to visit that area again we would stay in some place like Sorrento and train into Naples for the day. The hotel Ibis was ok, but the rooms are very small. Overall, we would try them again.
Thursday May 31st
We ate breakfast in the hotel Ibis again. We then caught a taxi to the airport. The place was mobbed because the cruise ship buses were all disembarking there. We sat around for a while with Kye and then said goodbye to her. She was flying back to Chicago via Madrid. We landed at Paris (CDG) and found where the TGV headed to Strasbourg. We had a layover of 2-3 hours so we found some lunch in the airport. We caught the TGV train to Strasbourg. When we got to Strasbourg, we walked a few km to our hotel, Hotel D. This was a very nice hotel. The staff was very helpful, the elevator was actually a decent size. The room was the best room we had on this trip. We got the hotel staff to recommend a restaurant for dinner. We walked to the restaurant over the canals. The town architecture looks more German than French. The restaurant Chez Yvonne was excellent. It was had both French food and German food. I had sausage and sauerkraut. But I also tasted the spaetzle. I figured that it might be the only time we got German food on this trip. When we started back to our hotel (about 10pm local) it started raining cats and dogs with lots of lightning. None us brought rain gear for the dinner walk. We checked on an Uber, but it was surge pricing and was going to cost about $50 to go maybe half a mile. So we hung out in an ATM enclosure for about 1 hour waiting for the downpour to stop. We saw a lot of people just getting soaked. After a while we were able to make our way back to the hotel, getting only marginally wet.
We started getting ready for our canal boat trip. The trip consisted of picking up the boat at Lutzelbourg, going to Nancy, then returning to Lutzelbourg. See map:
Figure 27: The boat route
Friday June 1st
We walked down the block to a boulangerie. There we met Kent and Donna Byron. Kent is Bob’s nephew. We had a pain au chocolate and planned our provisioning for the boat trip. After breakfast we headed to the farmers market.
Figure 28: Farmers Market at Strasbourg
Figure 29: Small part of farmers market in Strasbourg
Figure 30: The cheese market (marche de fromage) at Strasbourg
We picked lots of fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market. The farmers market was only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. We then walked over to the Monoprix supermarket and brought other items we would need on the boat. If we had more time we would have gone over to the shopping mall (Place de Halles), which was just few blocks away. But we had to catch a taxi that Donna had arranged to get to Lutzelbourg. FortunatelyDonna studied in France during her college years, so she could still speak passable French. We loaded up the taxi (actually a van) and motored out to Lutzelbourg to pick up our boat. We had lunch at the Locaboat marina.
Figure 31: Lunch at the LocaBoat Marina, Kent, Donna, Gail Bob, and Brett. No wine yet.
Lutzelbourg is nice village with a small grocery store where we bought more groceries. The rest of the party, Doug and Sara Laird and Lenny Ledet joined us there. They flew into Paris the day before and took a train directly to Lutzelbourg on Friday.
Figure 32: Canal de la Marne au Rhin at Lutzelbourg
We rented the boats from Locaboat. The big boat was a Pénichette Flying Bridge 1180 FB. It had 3 cabins. Bob, Gail, Kent, Donna and Lenny were on that boat. The small boat was a Pénichette Flying Bridge 1160 FB . It had 2 cabins. Doug, Sara, Barb and Brett were on the small boat. Each cabin had its own bathroom in both boats. We also rented 2 bicycles for each boat. We also bought the comprehensive damage waiver. This covered any damage we did to the boats and covered our fuel usage. Getting the CDW was a good thing. We got our informational meeting about 3:30pm and finally got underway about 4:00pm. Note to self, we were supposed to be able to leave at 2:00pm.
Figure 33: We are underway on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. The 1180 is in the lead.
Because we got a late start we could not get through the inclined plane boat lift at Plane incliné de Saint-Louis-Arzviller. So we tied up just downstream after uplocking three locks and giving new crew members (Doug, Sara, Lenny, Kent and Donna) a shakedown cruise. We used the spikes and hammer to moor to the canal side. You need to make sure not to have your mooring ropes across the towpath when tied up or you will make the locals, who use them for walking, running, etc., very unhappy.
Figure 34: Our boat 1160 FB tied up to the canal on the first night.
We walked down to Brasserie des Eclusiers to eat. We climbed over a few fences to do it. But the restaurant was closed to the public for a wedding. We walked back to the boat and ate a dinner on the boats. This is why you must always have one or two meals ready to go on the boats. 3 locks
Saturday, June 2nd
We had breakfast the next morning using food that we had bought the previous day. Everybody gathered in the big boat for meals. This breakfast consisted of coffee (American strength), cheese, bread, fruit. Once underway we rode the boats up the inclined plane. This mechanical wonder replaced 17 locks!
Figure 35: The inclined plane at Arzviller
After the inclined plane lift we were on a long stretch with no locks (summit), but there were two large tunnels. You had to wait your turn to start through these tunnels, fortunately it was not too busy. We had to wait about 30 minutes to go through.
Figure 36: Boat coming through tunnel
The long tunnel was about a mile long. After going through the first tunnel Bob noticed something wrong with the steerage on the 1180. We stopped and checked the rudder and prop but could not see anything. We continued through the second tunnel and Bob experienced it again. We tied up at Niderviller. Bob called the Locaboat base, only a few miles away and they said they would come over. For lunch we went to the restaurant, Auberge du Tannenheim. We sat outside and had a nice meal. After lunch, we decided that Bob and helpers would hang around for the Locaboat mechanic and rest would restock our larders. So we headed out to the closest store, in Niderviller; we never found it.
Figure 37: Getting ready to go look for groceries
Then Kent and Brett rode bikes to a very large supermarket in Sarrebourg. The ride was over some highways, so it was somewhat bike unfriendly. We loaded up with as much stuff that we could load on the bikes, including stuff taped to the rear fenders (Kent’s idea). Once we got back we stored the groceries, mainly on the big boat. The Locaboat mechanic had found fishing line wrapped around the 1180 prop and rudder. This made it very hard to steer the boat.
Figure 38: The small boat tied up at Niderviller marina
Once the mechanic (David) got the fishing line removed, he came over to our boat to check out the cabin lights in the back cabin (Barb and Brett’s cabin). He said there wasn’t much he could do because he did not have the parts to fix it. It was late enough by then that we just decided to stay at Niderviller for the night. This would allow people that had been on the road for over a week to wash some clothes at the marina laundry mat. So we ate dinner at the Auberge du Tannenheim again. I ordered the special for the night – a peppered rum steak, so did Barb and Bob. This meal was probably the worst I had on the trip. The meat was extremely tough. Obviously, I had forgotten one of my rules about traveling in France, “Never order steak in France”. We walked back to the boat and Barb started the laundry. The cost was about 7 euros for a small washer. The dryer barely worked. So sometime after 10, we unloaded the dryer, so Donna could use it, and took the wet clothes back to the boat. In the first full day we went 10 km and 1 big lock.
Sunday June 3rd
The next morning I got up and took a shower in the marina (2 euros), Barb had taken one the night before. The shower had plenty of hot water. The instructions were in German. The boat next to us was owned by a German couple who lived/worked in Germany during the week and spent weekends on their boat. They most graciously offered to drive Doug to the boulangerie for bread and pastries (chocolate croissants) that morning. So we had breakfast in the big boat. We got underway very early, for us. We went through the very deep lock at Réchicourt-le-Château.
Figure 39: A very deep lock
Figure 40: At Rechicourt-le-Chateau, Doug, Sara, Bob, Brett, Gail, Lenny, Barb, and Donna
We were required to wear our safety vests for this one.
Figure 41: Going down in Rechicourt-le-chateau, we were still going down.
We had a boat lunch. These lunches were a tradition on our two previous canal boat (1999, 2002) trips. Typically they consist of bread, butter, cheese, sausage, fresh veggies and fruits, pastries (ham & cheese), quiches, and of course wine.
Figure 42: Boat lunch
We made it to the marina at Lagarde, where there were bollards to tie up to, but no electricity or water.
Figure 43: Waiting for restaurant to open at Lagarde. Note the marina
We ate at the restaurant PK209, it's the only restaurant in town. We had to wait till 7:00pm for the restaurant to open. Most restaurants in France do not open till 7:00 pm. Only a few people were eating that night in the restaurant. The meal was very good. After dinner (it was near 10 pm) we just walked back to the boat. On the second day we made about 36 km and went through 7 locks.
Monday June 4th
We were told the night before that the boulangerie truck (bakery service) would show up at 8:30 am and we could buy bread and pastries. However, we found out that the truck did not show up on Mondays, but the marina sold baguettes. So we bought some and had breakfast on the boat. We had noticed that the small boat’s fridge was not working. We investigated and found out that the breaker would not switch on. We then cruised to Einville-au-Jarde which had a nice port with water and electricity at no cost. We called the Locaboat base and they said that they would send out a mechanic soon. As soon as we had tied up at Einville-au-Jarde we sent some of the crew to check out the closing times for the local restaurant, La Pizz d' Einville Aurelie. They were supposed to close in 15 minutes. Most restaurants close in the afternoon and re-open in the evening. However, they said that would stay open for us. Our party of nine totally overwhelmed their lunch plate. But they made a suggestion that half of our party would get the lunch plate and the other half of the party would get something just as good. So we picked who got the lunch plate (chicken with noodles) and who got the mystery plate. The mystery plate turned out to be a beef burgundy style meal that was fantastic. We also found very good local beer called Belgian Kriek. It was a Kriek Lambic style beer. Basically, a Belgian beer with sour cherries added, so it had a very red color. The beer was from the Licorne Brewing Company out of Saverene.
Figure 44: Lunch at Pizz d' Einville Aureliet
After lunch most of the people walked over to the super market and picked up provisions. Brett waited for the Locaboat mechanic (David). When David showed up he started replacing everything (batteries, inverters, clamps, etc). He finally got the fridge to work (kind of) when it was hooked up to shore power. The freezer never did freeze anything. So after he was done we started on down the canal trying to make up for lost time. We got to the lock near Dombasle at about 6:30pm, but the lock keeper would not let us through. It turned out that there was a commercial barge (hotel) coming the other way. Typically, on this canal most locks close at 7:00pm. However, it turned out that a few locks in this small area shutdown at 6:00pm for pleasure boats. So we had to stay just upstream and have our second dinner on board. But since we had a fantastic lunch, it was no big deal. After dinner we took a walk in the little village. It was very pretty. There were modern houses and interesting yard art. We did about 30 km and 9 locks that day.
Figure 45: Interesting yard art near Dombasle
Tuesday June 5th
Kent got up at O-dark-thirty and rode some distance to get our morning bread, baguettes, and pastries. We were ready to go when the lock opened. We stopped at Varangéville and walked over the footbridge to Saint-Nicolas-de-Port. This is a very pretty town. We wanted to visit the brewery museum, Musée Français de la Brasserie (France Brewery Museum), but it did not open till 2:00pm. So we visited the local church.
Figure 46: Stain Glass at St Nicholas du port church
Figure 47: Walking over the Meurthe River
There were many storks in this town building nests on the different high points.
Figure 48: Stork nest in St Nicholas du Port
Barb and I got lunch at a little shop, we got quiche and a drink. We (the whole crew) knew that we would be back this way in few days, so we decided to not wait around for the museum to open and went on to Nancy. We arrived in Nancy in the afternoon. The marina was very crowded. We found a spot. It was a tight spot, but Doug did a good job in backing us in. A fellow boater from California (we had parked next to them at Niderviller) helped us with the mooring lines. This port was filled with permanent residents. The 1180 FB found a place next to the marina office. So we had a boat lunch as we got sorted out with the marina. The charge for the mooring, electricity, and water was about 20 euros per night. We got help from the local French live-aboards figuring out how the electric meters worked.
Figure 49: Cruising into Nancy
Figure 50: Hanging out with Bob & Doug at Nancy marina
After we rested for a while, we went into Nancy to visit the famous Place Stanislas. This square is considered one the best squares in France. It is easy to see why. Twenty or thirty years ago it was used for parking, but now it is encircled by interesting shops, markets, restaurants, etc. The iron work is beautiful.
Figure 51: Some of the ironwork at Place Stanislas
Lenny (who is a blacksmith) was quite interested in the iron work and gave the rest of us a good explanation of the work that goes into this type of art. We ate on the square at Grand Café Foy, as usual the food was very good. After dinner, we took a leisurely walk back to the boats thru the Botanical garden. We went 13 km and 4 locks that day.
Figure 52: Botanical garden at Nancy
Wednesday, June 6th
Doug, Sara, and Brett got up and walked over the canal to the boulangerie ( Les Maitres Façonneurs) which was located on the avenue du XX corps (which was the U. S. army unit that liberated this area during WW II). The person at the boulangerie would not let Doug take a picture of the automated oven spitting out baguettes. This is strange since a picture of the oven can be seen in the google maps picture of the store. We bought enough pastries, baguettes, raisin bread (for Lenny) to have good boat breakfast. After breakfast everybody separated to see different sights. Barb and Brett went looking for markets. We figured out that if we followed women with empty shopping carts they would lead us to a market. In that way we found a Muslim market with fantastic fresh produce. We bought melons and strawberries. Loaded down with fruit, we headed back to the marina and off loaded. We then found the large shopping mall (Saint Sébastien) near the Place Charles III. In the mall there was a large Monoprix super market with an unbelievable wine section. They even had California wines at this store.
Figure 53: California Wine in France (small world)
We had lunch from a small deli in the mall. We were looking for a wine from the local area (Cote de Toul). We found it the old fashioned market (Marché couvert de Nancy, covered market of Nancy) across the square from the shopping mall. It was interesting to note that the shops inside the shopping mall were much more crowded by French shoppers than the covered market. We carried everything back to the marina. We took showers at the marina. We also stopped and had a nice talk with a couple on their canal boat. They were from Reno NV, where Bob, Gail, Doug and Sara live. The couple had the spot next to our big boat. They told us that the nicest time to be on the canals was September - October. The weather was great and the marinas are not as crowded. They spend 6+ plus months on their boat in France then they spend time in Reno when the canals shut down (December – February). They have a very large boat for two people, but they said they have no problems handling locks and marinas. That night we walked over the canal to 100 Patates. This was a modern restaurant that was quite good, and busy with locals. This was the last night that Kent and Donna would be with us. They were headed back to the U.S. the next day.
Thursday, June 7th
The next morning, Barb and Brett got up and walked over to the same Boulangerie that we used the morning before to get the morning fix of pastries. This morning the oven was spitting out croissants. We had a grand breakfast that morning to say goodbye to Kent and Donna who were catching a train from Nancy to Paris. The rest of us said goodbye to Nancy and start back towards Lutzelbourg. We got a very leisurely start that day. We stopped at Varangéville/ Saint-Nicolas-de-Port and had a leisurely lunch. After lunch we visited the brewery museum Musée Français de la Brasserie that was closed when we tried to visit it earlier. This was a very nice tour; the tour was in English and the site was an actual brewery. There was a section showing artwork from different French breweries and a section about yeast science. The main section was an exhibit of historical brewery equipment before electricity and modern methods.
Figure 54: The crew listening to the tour.
Figure 55: Old fashioned wort cooling system
At the end of the tour we got a free beer.
Figure 56: Enjoying a beer after the tour
We finished the tour and walked to the boats and decided that we would try to get back to Einville-au-Jarde for another great meal at the Pizzeria. We did not make it, the locks closed before we got to Einville-au-Jarde. We then decided we would walk the 3-4 km to the restaurant along the tow path. We got there and we had another fantastic meal. The cook allowed us to look on as they cooked pizzas on their wood fired oven.
Figure 57: Our pizza being made.
They did not skimp on the ingredients. Lenny, who grew up New York City, said that it was very good pizza. Brett had a Belgian Kriek beer and chicken with noodles. Afterward we slowly walked back to the boats with a gorgeous sunset. We had gone 24 km and 7 locks for the day.
Figure 58: A sunset over the canal near Einville-au-Jard
Friday June 8th
The next morning Barb and Brett got up and biked up to Einville-au-Jard to the boulangerie for bread. It was a great time to be riding on the towpaths as the sun came up. We got to the boulangerie and stood in line for our order. After a nice breakfast, we started motoring towards Lutzelbourg. We went past LeGarde and stopped in Port Sainte-Marie. This mooring had water and electricity, but not much else. It is inside a nature conservancy area. The local marina master helped us get bread ordered for the next morning and arranged for the restaurant at LeGarde (PK209) to pick us and take us back to his restaurant. So we had nice happy hour on our boats. There were no other boats in this marina. At 7:00pm we got picked up (we crammed all seven of us into a small car) and were driven back to the PK209. It has very nice of the owner. This night the restaurant was very busy and while the food was still good, the service was poor by American standards. We got there a little after seven and finally left about 11:00pm. We were driven back to our boat about 7 km away. Today we did 28 km 10 locks
Figure 59: The marina at Port Sainte-Marie
Saturday June 9th
The next morning, we could not find where the service de boulangerie would stop. After a while the marina master came by and told us to follow him. He walked up to an old hotel, he unlocked a door where the service had dropped our order, very efficient. After breakfast we got started down the canal.
Figure 60: Typical scene of up-locking. Person standing on walkway is Brett
Figure 61: Typical crew stations, Captain Lenny, mooring rope handler Gail, and Bob coordinating
We went through the very deep lock at Réchicourt-le-Château. We stopped at Xouaxange, looking for a grocery store, but there was nothing there except for a French couple sitting on a bench. Lenny asked if he could take their picture and insisted that the man put his arm around the woman for the picture. Looks like they both enjoyed it.
Figure 62: A local couple at Xouaxange.
We decided to go on to Niderviller. We passed the large hire boat base (Le Boat) at Hesse. We pulled into Niderviller at 2:00 pm. The small boat parked in the same slot as before next to the German couple. Barb and Brett biked over to the same super market that that Kent and Brett had biked to a week ago. This was the last food run of the trip. We made reservations at the Auberge du Tannenheim, the restaurant that we had eaten last Saturday. We invited the German couple to dinner. The conversation at dinner was very interesting. The husband was an engineer in the railroad industry. The wife was a pre-school teacher. They said that their health insurance was paid for by their employers, just like the U. S.
Figure 63: Dinner at Niderviller with German couple
They did not like the influx of immigrants to their country. The wife’s English was very good. The husband's was not as good, but much better than any of us could speak German. They told us that children in Germany have to learn English, they have to take it in elementary school and high school. They do not learn French.
30 km 4 locks
Sunday June 10th
Last day on the boats. Doug went with our German neighbor to the boulangerie for breakfast goodies. We got an early start, for us. We passed through the tunnels again, this time Lenny drove the big boat through. We waited about thirty minutes to go through one of the tunnels. While waiting, we were tied up behind a group of German guys. These guys were playing Hotel California (Eagles) and the Piano Man (Billy Joel) in English.
Figure 64: Boat of German young guys waiting for access to tunnel
Figure 65: Waiting for the tunnel to open up
We also had to wait for the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. But this gave us time to explore the sights from the top.
Figure 66: Our boat going down the inclined plane.
Once down, we tied up at the lower basin and had our last boat lunch. It was a feast: cheese, wine, baguettes, sausage, raisin bread, etc. We then cruised down the final 3 locks and docked at the Le boat marina. Gail, Bob, Sara, Barb and Brett decided to hike up to the ruined chateau.
Figure 67: Ruined chateau above Lutzelbourg
Figure 68: Central Lutzelbourg with canal
The view from the chateau was beautiful. Many parts of the chateau have been rebuilt but not all. Without steel/iron it is hard to get rock to span any distance unless you use arches.
Figure 69: One of the many arches in the ruined chateau
Figure 70: Big sister Gail explaining the history of the chateau to her brother Brett
We were going to go to dinner on the river terrace of the hotel des Vosges; however the dining room was closed. Restaurants and boulangeries being closed at different times (compared to other countries) is just the French way. Instead we went to Bierstub d'Eselbahn. Fortunately, we sat inside, because halfway through our meal, the clouds let loose and drenched everybody outside. The people outside had to move inside and get squeezed together. I had a salad Nicoise, which was very good. The other good salad to order was salad Auvergnate, which includes smoked ham, blue cheese, walnuts and lettuce. After dinner we walked back to the boats in a light rain. 14 km 4 locks
Figure 71: Picture of our boat toilet and shower pan with breaker panel above
Figure 72: Barb taking picture of sink and mirror
Monday June 11th
The next morning we packed up our stuff and emptied the boats of garbage. We had paid extra to have LocaBoat clean our boats. We then checked in our boats and walked to the train station. We were planning to catch the 10:30 am train to Saverne and then on to Nancy, but we were able to get on the 8:30 am train direct to Nancy. That got us into Nancy about two and one half hours before the TGV train to Paris left. We got a table in the train station where we watched people and ate a second breakfast. On the TGV train to Paris, Barb, Lenny, and I sat with young French lady. She was a professional dancer (modern). Her English was very good. She told us that every French child must learn English to get out of secondary school. She lived in Nancy, but regularly travelled to Paris. Before we knew it, we were in Paris at the Gare de Est train station. We caught a taxi to the Ibis. After check-in some of us took a nice walk around the area. We walked on an abandoned elevated train platform that was turned into a garden.
Figure 73: Sara and Gail on elevated garden in Paris
Figure 74: Gail, Barb, Lenny and Sara overlooking the Seine
We ate dinner at a small pub/sidewalk café.
Tuesday June 12th
We all ate breakfast in the hotel. Then Barb, Lenny, and Brett caught a taxi to the airport, CDG. After we got through security (same security point where we got stuck coming into CDG), we sat and had a nice talk with Lenny. Barb and Brett caught the British Airways to London Heathrow. After a short lay over we caught the British Airways widebody to Denver. We really enjoyed the British Airways plane much more than American Airlines.