From Toul to Stevensweert, mid July to September 1.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
We covered lots of ground this year so I split the map into two parts. This part covers from the beginning of May to mid-July; the out-and-back from Saint Jean de Losne and then up to Toul in northern France. Part 2 will proceed from Toul through northern France into Belgium and on to Oldtimers winter quarters in Stevensweert, Netherlands.
Friday, September 23, 2016
It was and hour and a half train ride from Maastricht to Liege where we caught the high-speed Thalys for the two hours to Paris. After muscling our bags onto and off of the metro we walked a short distance to the Hotel de Nations Saint Germain. The very friendly and helpful staffed checked us in and sent us up the elevator to our sixth floor room overlooking the Rue Monge, with a view of the towers of Notre Dame and The church of Sacrè Coeur in the distance. (Nice hotel. Recommended!)
Of course we were going to have a mini heat wave for our time here so it was off to a museum. They have air conditioning. This time it was the Musèe d’Orsay with it’s impressive collection of impressionist painting and sculpture and an equally impressive clock.
The building was originally constructed as a train station for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and is a work of art in it’s right.
Wednesday morning we checked out of the hotel and headed for the airport on the always packed RER, the suburban railroad. There was barely enough room for us and our suitcases in the car. When we arrived at the airport a nice (!) soldier with a large gun was preventing anyone from heading up the escalator to the terminal. Seems there was an unattended suitcase left there and things are, shall we say, just a little jumpy in Paris. After about 20 minutes we were told that shortly there would be a loud whistle and we should cover our ears. Bang! went the device and Cathy Jo said some poor person’s underwear was all over the ceiling.
Without further incident Air France carefully deposited us in Los Angeles right on time and we were back in our Ventura home about 8 pm. Time to get back to work (and start planning for next year!)
Thursday morning about 11:30 we were tied up in the Porta Isola, where Oldtimer will spend the winter. We started on fall chores; touchup painting and general cleaning, winterizing and finalizing plans for the new opening windows that will be installed and boat gremlins that will be chased while we’re gone. Monday we took the train into Maastricht to pick up a rental car we could use for the week. Monday night we picked up Harvey from Hoop Doet Loeven who is now in a Maasbracht boatyard waiting for a haulout and survey. His partner Sandra said no way was she staying in the boatyard so she decamped for Boston over the weekend. He brought a bottle of fine burgundy we could drink with our duck breast dinner. Got to empty out the refrigerator, right? Wednesday we turned the boat around so the starboard side paint could be touched up and, since we were going to have to turn the boat back around anyway, we invited the Engelen family for a boat ride (We stayed at their B&B when we came looking for boats last year. We’ve kept in touch.). We figured since we had to start the engine anyway we might as well take a little cruise and it was a beautiful day.
Mirjam and Fleur seated, Koen at the wheel with Stijn, and Cathy Jo’s back, or course!
We thought we must have been in some other country because, except for a little night time shower one day during the week, the weather was nearly perfect the whole time we were in the Netherlands.
Sunday we emptied the water tanks, turned off all the electrics, locked the doors and loaded our (now much lighter) suitcases in the dock cart and headed off to Maastricht. Monday morning we’d turn the car in and catch the train. Off to Paris we went!
All locked up and ready for the Dutch winter.
It only took us a little over an hour to get from the lake to Maastricht, and that was with a little tour around parts of the lake we hadn’t seen.
When we visited the city in 2008 we stayed in ’t Bassin, the marina that’s some distance from the city center (and is quite expensive). This time we just tied to the wall separating the city from the river. No services but it’s free!
Oldtimer on the wall
The wall stretches between two bridges. This is taken from the upstream one.
Maastricht is a small and very walkable city with lots of history (where have you heard that before), most recently famous for the Treaty of Maastricht, signed in 1992, that formed the European Union. We spent several days here in 2008 and coming back this time we already pretty much knew our way around. It’s a very attractive shopping town with lots of restaurants and very attractive squares. With school starting again soon, the streets were exceptionally busy.
During the Namur city tour we were shown a church repurposed as a men’s clothing store. Here, on our walk around the city we found two more examples. The Dominican Bookstore, again with the freestanding building inside the original church-
and the Kruisherenhotel, a 15th century convent converted to a hotel.
The rooms are off the converted cloister and the reception and restaurant are located in the nave, again in a freestanding construction. There’s a great video tour of the hotel here.
And of course, no visit to a city would be complete without a climb up at least one tower, in this case the steeple of Sint Janskerk, where we’ll end up just below the clock.
And the view around the city.
And no trip to the Netherlands would be complete without some sort of strange street performance, in this case a womans marching drumline. They made quite a racket but were really pretty good! We chipped in a couple of euros to the donation bucket.
Wednesday morning, after a quick stop at the Jansen’s chandlery and fuel barge to part with several hundred euros to keep Mr. DAF happy, it was off up the Juliana Canal for the last (very boring) 38 kilometers and 4 hours to reach Maasbracht. We’d spend one night in the town’s passanten or transient dock, then Thursday morning make the last hour long trip to Stevensweert, where Oldtimer will spend the winter.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
People we met along the way had told us to stop in Visè and as it was the required 2 hours travel time from Liege we thought that sounded like a good idea.
Just north of the Liege, the Albert Canal, which heads off into Belgium, leaves the river. There are about 9 kilometers of navigable river paralleling the canal until the lock just after Visè where, to continue north, it’s onto the straight, boring and very busy Albert canal.
We had been told that the small marina in the village was very nice. That may be the case if you can get one of the good spots but they were all full. We ended up down at the end of the treeless and pretty desolate quay with the geese and their “leavings”. Geese are a real problem around here. There are far too many of them (there were literally hundreds of several different species in Visè) and they have no natural predators. Since food is abundant, they don’t migrate as there supposed to. They’ve become pests. And it was hot. We walked up to check out the lock onto the Albert canal, which is in a nice shady park, and spent a little time there then retreated to the boat for the afternoon. About 9:15 Friday morning we entered the lock and 5 minutes later joined the Albert Canal headed for the Netherlands.
Right at the Belgium-Netherlands border we entered the Sluis Lanaye with it’s 45 ft. drop along with three commercial boats and, after the lock, made a sharp right turn into the Recreatiecentrum Eijsden, a giant lake with two swimming beaches (one that featured a thumping loud dj on Friday afternoon) and an island in the middle with a small quay with room for three boats. The quay was empty when we arrived. It was going to be hot and sunny for the weekend (swimming time!) and school was back in session starting Tuesday so we figured the place would be pretty zoo-like. We were not disappointed.
Luckily the two other boats that joined us on the quay belonged to retirees so there was no huge party there but a five boat raft up decided to drop anchor for the weekend right out in front of the quay and put their giant stereo speaker on top of one of the boats. A peaceful weekend it was not! Saturday night did feature a giant thunderstorm, however, the raftup dragging around the lake in the howling wind and pouring rain with the boaters with their headlamps and flashlights trying to reset their anchors.
The lake with the lock in the lower left and the island at the top.
If you look closely you can see a small boat tied up on the quay.
Sunday morning we’d had enough so about 10 am we made the 1 hour trip to the big city, Maastricht.