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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Season Finale

San Luis Obispo, California

Armida is out of he water and we are at home - hardly a cliffhanger but the end of our cruising season. We enjoyed our cruise back from Besancon and some very social times at the marina in between cleaning, tidying and laundry. We stayed in a B&B for the last couple of days before a quick dash to the airport.

This year was a lot of up and down the river with only a little time on the canals.  This shows up in the numbers:

Engine Hours:                157
1Kilometres Travelled: 1081
Number of Locks:            94

Compared with 2012 when we did twice as many engine hours, only 300km more and 300 more locks.

Terry likes the river cruising as it is more leisurely and has less locks.  I like the canals as it is more intimate and there is something new around every corner.  We both agree that we still love the life and will aren’t yet ready to give it up.

So tune in next season and find out if Terry gets sick of locks or if Rob falls asleep on the rivers but be assured that Rosie and Lilou will have a good time no matter what.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

From Pink Floyd to French-Floyd and on to Besançon

After we eventually left Ray we did go upstream for groceries which enabled us to go downstream where we tied up on a grassy bank on a bend in the Saone.  There we had one of our favorite type of evenings. A swim in the river (for me) as it’s still hot.  Dinner outside with some nice wine watching the sun go down and the nearly full moon come up, with the music from the iPod playing softly on the outside speakers. And no one else around.  Well there were several rental boats on the same stretch of river having similar experiences but we couldn’t see or hear them from our bend.  We finished the evening with the full album of Dark Side of the Moon while we looked at the bright side.  By the way this is also our favorite album for long tunnels.  One of this year’s projects was a gangplank which worked as well as holding us off the bank.
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Then it was retracing our route back to Saint Jean de Losne for some more socializing and working on the boat.  Along the way we had some of the best mussels2016-08_0335 at the portside restaurant in Pontallier.
The weather got hot again and on one day of 38C (100F) and no wind Terry wanted to go home (wherever that is).  I guess you know when the weather has heated up the steel boat when you take the wine glasses out of the cupboard and they are warm! 
2016-08_0345It did cool off a bit and on the Saturday we were entertained by a concert from “French Floyd” who were performing across the marina.  We didn’t go but the sound was  just perfect on the back deck of Armida.
We still had three weeks left so decided to head to Dole for a change of scene.  It is still one of our favorite towns and we had a nice meal at Le Gren de Sel, again but then overshot and kept going to Besançon. This is now our most traveled stretch of the French waterways as well as our first  – and we still love it.
Tomorrow we head back down the Doubs and the canal to Saint Jean de Losne where we begin the process of putting Armida to bed for another year before leaving for California on the 8th.
I don’t think Lilou wants to leave.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A little more Saone

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Sitting on the back of Armida in the afternoon.  Some clouds have materialized to take the sting out of the August sun but we are on the water with a lovely green area at the back of many old stone homes.  A young German man just came from his garden to say hello.  They have this home for holidays.  We told him we met two men from Amsterdam this morning while we were all walking our dogs.  They live here year round.  Of course he knew them and said, “small town”.   And that it is.  Maybe 50 homes 2/3 of which are 16th and 17th century, all pristine.  It’s obviously popular with the money people, but has no shops.  Only one small family fun bar/cafe and the Mayors building.  A van comes through every AM selling eggs, baguettes and croissants.  Up the hill past the 13th century church, and lavoir (wash house) with an unusual oval pool, is the Chateau  de Ray sur Saone.  Once the largest fortress in this area of France.  Built in the 12th century and as frequently happens was destroyed in the early 17th century and totally rebuilt as an imposing but charming chateau with expansive gardens with magnificent trees from around the world and fabulous views.  It has stayed in the same family, 35 generations until the Chateau and grounds were donated to the region in 2015. The well maintained grounds are open to all for free but the inside of the building is only open for tours Thurs-Sat.  So another time.
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Yesterday and today we had a cute old man who lives here come peddling vegetables from his garden.  Yesterday we bought lettuce, baby carrots and chives.  Today raspberries and a big bag of skinny green beans.  We don’t need tomatoes as we bought many a few days ago at only 1.09 euro per kilo (2.2 pounds)  Couldn’t believe it.
2016-08 01822016-08 0111We have been pottering up the Petite Saone for nearly a week and it didn’t start well. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get through the first lock below Auxonne due to a herd of rental boats and a hotel boat and we were thinking: why are we doing this in August.  Well we must have hit the peak load of rentals coming and going to their bases and apart from one other wait we have had no more delays, not that we have a schedule.  There are still lots of boats moving until evening but if we get somewhere by early afternoon we are fine and we have entertainment for the afternoon and evening at boats crowd each other for the last spaces.

The weather has been glorious.  For about 4 days it was sunny, clear with a light cool breeze and cool nights.  The last couple of days have been hotter with less breeze but still cool nights – amazing for August.
The river here is lovely, narrower, greener and at 8km/hour very relaxing.  No notable towns or villages but some nice surprises and pleasant moorings, like this place.
2016-08 0161This afternoon we had to decide whether to go a short way upstream to a small town with groceries (for tomorrow, today is another obscure French holiday – Assumption Day) or downstream to a “middle of nowhere” mooring – or  not. We decided Not and will stay another night. 
Terry said she could stay here for ever, but there is no electricity so we can’t.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Oops–where did July go?

Saint Jean de Losne 

Damn, it’s August already and only a month and a half to go. What happened to July?
Well, it got busy.  After the water subsided we could go places and there were lots of other boats and people to visit.  Also Tess and Tony came for a week which was wonderful.
So here is a brief summary – After Lyon we took our time back up the, now peaceful, Saone stopping at Trevoux (finally), Montmerle (again) and Macon.  We then did a diversion up the Seille, a small river off the Saone with self operated locks and a much more intimate feel.  We sat out some hot weather under the trees in Cruisery and then continued up to Louhans and back.
Then back down to Macon where we met Tess and Tony and rented a car.  Terry and the dogs stayed on the boat trying to keep cool while we drove the 2 1/2 hours to Chamonix and took the amazing gondolas up to Aguille du Midi at 12,500’ for truly spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the Alps. The next day we took the cog railway to the foot of the glacier and ice cave and then drove back to Macon. A relaxed, but long, day saw us cruise back down the Saone all the way to Lyon (85km in one day, another record for us) to give Tess and Tony some city sights before they returned from their, all to short, visit.
We have now retraced our steps back to Saint Jean de Losne where we are sitting on the Quay having caught up with laundry waiting for the Vide Grenier that will be right by the boat tomorrow.
Monday we will set off north up the now “Petite” Saone as far as we can into the Vosges Mountains before we turn around and come back here to go home.  We hope the  mountains will stay cool for August.
Here are a few photos:
Trevoux and automated flower watering.
Strange marine craft and peaceful mooring on the Seille        
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Strange people the French – they keep their boats on the land and their cars in the water.
Storks and dessert.
Tess and Tony….. and Rob and Terry and Rosie and Lilou
At the top of the world – Chamonix
And back to Lyon and bye


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Loving Lyon and Leaving.


Two weeks in Lyon and we loved it. The port is in a great location and the city is both old and charming and modern and well organized. Not nearly as large and grand as Paris but with all of the ingredients, and more, on a smaller scale. You can read online about Lyon’s history as the first Roman Capital of Gaul,  its frequent destruction by invaders from the east and its renaissance as the centre of the silk industry in France so I won’t spend any more time on that here.

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As a smaller city it is much easier to comprehend and get around helped by its thoroughly modern transport system that seamlessly ties together the metro, trams, buses and even the funicular railway. And it is very clean.

2016-06 0261Our goal had been to get there in time for the festival of music which is on the summer solstice when the weather finally conformed.  The morning was grey and rainy but the afternoon was sunny and perfect and since then summer has stayed and the gloomy days of May are forgotten.  Walking around the 19th Century central part of town we found all sorts of live music on the streets:  middle eastern, irish, rock and roll, jazz, salsa, and football fans.

We were there through several of the games  of the European football (soccer) competition 2016-06 0186with some of the games played in and around Lyon.  The main square (Bellecour) was converted into a giant fan zone with large TVs to watch the various competition.  We had an idea of who was playing next by the different national colours that would come and go.  When Ireland lost to France here the local media talked fondly about the large party and how all the Irish and French fans got along so well together.  A good example to some other nationalities.

Of course we visited museums:  the giant Musee des Beaux Arts was an all day experience, the museum of Movies and Miniatures was just fun, the Lumiere Museum was a glimpse into the origin of movies enhanced by the location in Lumieres’ lovely Art Deco mansion and the Confluence Museum was an innovative perspective on Natural History with interesting special exhibits including a fabulous display of high definition video on an under the water in Antarctica. A walking tour of the narrow streets of medieval Old Lyon gave us a feel of the ancients town. There is still more to do when we return.

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I don’t think we have yet plumbed the gastronomic depths of Lyon. The city prides itself on its cuisine but we did eat in a couple of “bouchons” the Lyonnaise name for small bistros, as well as some Tapas and others.  So far the food is a little on the rich side.

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The port has a nominal limit of 4 days but as we arrived at very high water and the locks on the Rhone were closed no one was coming and going so there was no trouble extending.  We stayed for over two weeks, time enough for the water to slow down and normal traffic to resume and for us to make several more new boating friends.

We left reluctantly about a week ago and had more to appreciate the city from the river.  Now sitting under the trees to stay cool in Cuisery.  More on our cruise north in a little while.

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