Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Real Final Days, August 2-5

Monday morning at 8:30 it was off on the TGV to Paris.  There’s nothing quite like sweeping past the French countryside in a wide, comfortable seat with ample leg room at about 250 k an hour. About 10 we arrived at Paris’ Gare de Lyon, took the RER subway two stops to the Gare du Nord and had a little bite to eat. 12:30 we were off on the Thalys, the high speed train to Amsterdam.  After stops in Lille, France, Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium, Rotterdam and Schipol Airport in Holland, we were back in Amsterdam’s Centraal Station about 3:45. After checking in at our hotel we wandered about the streets a bit, then settled in at a tapas restaurant just down the street for dinner.  Sardines a las plancha, a bunch of other tasty things and a good Spanish red.  Life is good!
We were staying at the same hotel we used when we were in Amsterdam to return the car; this time with a bigger room.  Last time we only had backpacks. Our giant suitcases wouldn’t fit in that room so we did a little upgrade.  Again, a great, newly renovated room and very helpful staff.  We highly recommend the Hotel Linden.

The only picture I took was at night.
This time our room was up at the top right out on the end.

The next morning it was off to the Rijksmuseum.  All of the times we’d been in Amsterdam in the past, the museum was about half closed in order to complete a massive renovation.  Last year they finally pulled down all the scaffolding and opened up the whole thing.  We bought our tickets online so we wouldn’t have to stand in the massive line and enjoyed a wonderful museum.
The big draw is Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch.”  By the time we got there, the crowds had gathered. Luckily its hung pretty high so it can be seen in a crowd but the pictures I took were of some other, smaller works not by Rembrandt.

"Six Wardens of the Drapers Guild" by Pieter Pietersz

"Sir Thomas Gresham" and "Anne Fernely" by Anthonis Mor

The Rijksmuseum gardens

More wandering about town in the late afternoon then a very filling ricetable dinner (an Indonesian speciality, rice with about a thousand (or maybe 10) little dishes to go on it. The goat satay was our favorite.) and our last day in Europe for this year was complete. Wednesday morning about 10 am KLM Airlines whisked us across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Houston.  We’d spend a week visiting Cathy Jo’s parents and her brother (his birthday was Saturday) with a quick trip up to Dallas to see John and Patti Hardman then back home to Ventura.
Time to start planning for next year!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Last Days, Part 2, July 26-Aug. 2

It just took about an hour from our bankside spot to get into our slip at the Gare, but first we had a very important stop.  Oldtimer holds about 1600 liters of fuel and the Mighty Daf has to be fed.  After lightening our wallets with about 450 liters at the fuel dock on the river, it was back into the slip. Well, not entirely.  There was a boat in the way so we had to raft alongside another boat to wait for our spot to open. That wouldn’t happen until Tuesday morning.  Monday we took a quick train ride to Dijon to pick up another rental car and do a little shopping. Back by the afternoon, the laundry and cleanup cores were waiting.  Our flight was leaving from Amsterdam on Wednesday of the following week but we’d booked our Dijon/Amsterdam train tickets for Monday the 1st because we wanted to spend Tuesday in the city to the visit the Rijksmuseum.
By the end of the week we had a pretty good handle on the chores so we took a day Thursday
to drive around Burgundy visiting the village of Musigny and Nuit-Saint-Georges.
Friday, Cathy Jo had noticed some posters in town that announced live music at the waterfront.  After dinner we took a stroll into town to see what it was about.  We really enjoyed “The Ventura’s”, a 60’s surf rock band, a tribute to the Ventures. They even played “Miserlou”! Only in France!

Saturday we completed the winterizing chores, clearing the water out of the boats system so the pipes won’t freeze and burst, antifreezing the generator and drains, and packing away the clothes and linens we’re leaving behind. Sunday morning, after stalking the village-wide garage sale (vide grenier) in St. Jean (and buying nothing), all of the outside stuff (bicycles, umbrellas, deck chairs, flagpoles, etc.) went inside, the curtains were closed, the doors locked and we said goodbye to Oldtimer until next spring.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Last Days Part 1, July 19-25

H2O, the brokers who sold us the boat, have three marinas.  The Gare d’ Eau, where we have spent most of our time and Oldtimer would spend the winter, the “Old Lock,” a big disused river lock converted into mooring spaces for big boats, and a new one in Auxonne, about 20k up the Saone River from St. Jean de Losne.  It was dug out of a space just up the river from the town’s pontoons on the river and opened in 2011. Since we paid for a slip in the Gare for a year, we have reciprocal privileges in Auxonne. We could stick around for a few days to do a little touch up painting.  The pontoons in St. Jean are very short so it’s hard to get to the whole side of the boat. In Auxonne, we could lay alongside a dock and get to the whole boat side.  After a couple of days, we turned the boat around and touched up the other side.
Auxonne is a pretty quiet town, dominated by facilities reserved for the military contained in an old Vauban-designed fort and the Marie features the typical glazed tile Burgundian roof.

Wednesday when I went into town for the daily bread, I discovered that another famous American institution had come to France. Le Cascadeurs had come to town for a Monster Truck Rally!

They set up an enclosure with truck trailers and containers just up the road from the marina. Thursday the loudspeaker truck traveled around town followed by the above pictured vehicle; “Attention, attention!  Vendredi et Samedi, Le Monster Trucks!” Friday night there was about an hour and a half of engine revving, sirens and loud, enthusiastic loudspeaker announcements.
Saturday morning we were off down the river in the direction of St. Jean to another great bankside spot.  The temps had climbed again; not to 100 but still well into the 90’s and we needed some shade.  We weren’t going to stay long, however. The plane and train ride home was coming up soon and we were going to have to get the boat ready for winter.