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Friday, August 31, 2012

Another amazing day

Another wonderful day spent cruising the Midi canal.  We tied up on the canal at Port Colombiers, then took on water and had laundry done.  We didn't leave until after 3pm so just cruised down to Capestang for the night.  Got an early start, well 8:30 is early on our schedule.  A cold front came through all day with rain so we ran the boat from inside except for the bridges and locks.  We stopped at the little village for a great lunch, I had duck breast, Cindy had shrimp scampi (huge shrimp), Denise had salad with shrimp and David had spaghetti bolognese.  Really good and then we walked around back to the boat.  Our plans were to get through the last 3 locks and spend the night at the marina in Homps.  Well you know about plans?  The engine overheated again as we were tieing up to wait for the first set of locks.  Since we were only 1 mile from Homps David took a bike and got a mechanic.  He worked as quickly as he could replacing the impeller and removing all of the broken pieces of the other impeller that the other mechanic didn't get out.  But, alas, at 6:55 we were first in line and the locks opened to let the downstream boats out, but the locks close at 7:00 SHARP!  He wouldn't let us through.  So we stayed there for the night.  We rode bikes into Homps looking for internet, couldn't find any.  On the ride back we decided to try the restaurant across the canal from the locks since they were open now.  Internet!  Good to check on everybody back home and make sure the hurricane didn't do any damage and no one was hurt.
Finally made it into Homps, the locks opened at 9:00 SHARP!
Sitting at a little cafe enjoying cafe and hot chocolate and chocolat croissants!  Planning our next couple days adventures.
Life is good. 

Tunnel? In a boat? Priceless!

Wonderful day, wonderful friends

another small boat bridge

castle in the sky

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What an amazing day!

We all slept in, then had breakfast and walked over to the little cafe for wifi.  We untied and
headed up the canal about 10:30.  Didn't make it too far, about 2 kilometers later the impeller
gave up the ghost.  Engine overheated so we tied up and David took a bike back to the docks
to fetch a mechanic.  With a new impeller we took off again.
The Midi Canal at Beziers has a unique feature:  a water bridge.  The Midi passes over a
couple roads and another larger canal IN THE AIR, and we were on it.  An amazing
experience to look down and see how high up in the air we were as we cruised.
Not much farther up the canal we came to a series of 7 connected locks.  We waited about 1/2
hour for our turn and then entered with 2 other canal boats.  We tied off and in comes a huge
rush of water as the water level raised about 15 feet.  Then the lock doors opened and we
entered the next lock only to repeat this for the 7 locks.  Really neat to look back down the
way we came as we rose about 100 feet.  The locks attract quite a bit of attention since every
one we've passed through has had people just watching.  This set had quite a few people.
We cruised for about an hour before we came to the little village of Port Colombiers.  Since it
was so late there were no places in the small marina so we continued a couple hundred
meters and tied up alongside the canal with a few other boats.  We all cleaned up and walked
back to the marina for a nice dinner of pizza and pasta, and wine, and of course more gelato. 
Well the ladies had crepes while David and I enjoyed gelato.
Today we'll explore the village which is a walled city built during the Roman times.   

our boat

lunch on the Midi Canal

the canal bridge, we're over the river below at the same height as the car bridge in the background

squeezing into the first of 7 locks

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pirates on the Midi Canal!

After a good night sleep we headed into town for croissants and coffee, and groceries.  It's so
nice to have these little bakeries everywhere.  David went to buy wine and came back with 2-
5 liter jugs of the local wine for $15 euros, which is pretty good wine.
We then headed back to Port Cassafrieres for the night with David running the boat this time. 
The 2 locks were much easier this time and the ladies handled the ropes like pros.  Another
beautiful blue sky, cool day for a nice cruise up the Canal du Midi.  After we pulled into the
dock we took the bikes for a ride.  We were less than a mile to the beach on the
Mediterranean so we headed there for a while.  The beach was very crowded with families
sunbathing (some topless, some shouldn't be) and kids playing and swimming in the water. 
We then came back to the boat and walked over to a little restaurant for a beer and wifi. 
After we fixed dinner- rotisserie chicken, cheese & basil ravioli, salad, and bread, with wine of
course.  Then we just enjoyed the evening visiting until we were all tired and headed to our
I was awakened last night about 2 by loud noises on the deck above our bed.  I jumped up
ready to do battle with pirates.  I carefully opened the top hatch and cautiously looked
around.  Ahah! I must have scared them off because the only thing I found was the little door
to close off the top deck was swinging shut with the coming rain storm.  You know pirates
like to attack in the dark just before a storm.  So I latched the door and went down and back
to sleep.
Our hearts and prayers are with our friends and family back home as they wait for hurricane
Isaac to hit.  Good luck mes amis!
It's still a little quiet now, Cindy just made coffee and D&D aren't up yet.  Looks like the rain
may have passed so I might take the bike down to the bakery for croissants.
Today we head up the Midi to another small village for the night.  Then tomorrow we have a
series of 7 locks together and want to be in line early.  Our plans are to make our way to
Trebes and take a taxi over to Carcassonnes, a walled village to explore.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Great Europe Adventure begins!

We had a very tiring train ride from Switzerland through Milano to Genoa, Italy where we
spent the night.  We got into Genoa late due to missing our train in Milano and lost an hour. 
Too tired to explore Genoa we checked into the hotel then walked and ate pizza with wine.
Got up early to catch the 6:45am train to Monte Carlo, yeah that is the one with 27 stops!
Long ride, but we caught glimpses of the Mediterranean along the way.  Made it to the
Marriott and met up with David & Denise.  Monte Carlo is unbelievable, there are multi-million
dollar mega-yachts anchored everywhere.  We went to the Jacques Cousteau Museum and
visited the royal palace of the Prince of Monaco.  Very nice to see a functioning palace.
Then we ate a great dinner at a tiny restaurant run by a father-son team that Denise had
found.  I had the tuna and it was awesome.  Had a lazy breakfast at a nearby cafe named Les
Oliviers, but didn't find any cousins.  Pretty good coffee and croissants though.
Then we took the train to Nice and picked up a rental car.  We have to pick up the boat on
Sunday afternoon so had a free day with no plans.  As we were driving and talking about
where we'd like to spend the night Denise shouted "Sainte Marie de la Mer, that might be by
the sea!"  So we all said "why not?" and took the next exit.  We drove for almost an hour
along this little country road following the river wondering if we should have done this or not.
Finally the terrain starting changing to marshy ground and we drove into this neat little town. 
We followed the road to the end where we could see the Mediterranean, passing all of these
little cafes and shops.  We found the greatest little resort town and it was the last Saturday
night of the "holiday season" so the local people had the town packed all having a great time. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the local ambiance, had a snack with marinated
olives, fromage panini, beer and wine.  Then found a little restaurant and had a wonderful
fresh fish dinner.  Not knowing the local fish varieties our waiter brought out a platter of fresh
uncooked fish for us to choose.  Cindy and I split Loup, which was similar to speckled trout
and D&D chose the Lotte which was monkfish.  Both were incredibly good.  After dinner we
walked through the maze of little streets browing the shops and watching all of the locals
enjoying a good time eating and drinking.  Little kids running everywhere, it was truly a joy
to see a local small town, with NO highrises!
We watched some folk dancers performing in front of the bullfight arena.
Then we headed a few kilometers out of town to find our hotel for the night since the town
was totally booked.  It was already dark when we found it after taking a wrong turn.  It was
separate bungalows and we couldn't find an office so as David was trying to call I found a
doorbell hidden on a post.  So we finally made it and got a pretty good night sleep. 
Now we have to find another adventure before we get to the boat.
After a breakfast of coffee, juice, croissants and baguetes we headed to Port Cassafrieres.  It
was a nice ride through the french countryside.  We stopped at a fruit stand and then a
grocery for essentials before turning in the rental car and getting a taxi to the boat.
The boat is very nice, 13.5 meters long with 2 staterooms and a huge flying bridge.  After
being checked out we headed to Marseillan, a quaint little town with a harbor for the night. 
After going through 2 locks which were relatively easy, and with the women handling the
ropes and David spotting me, we crossed a small bay and managed to back the boat into a
spot alongside another boat while battling the wind.
We walked through town enjoying the sights then ate a great dinner at a restaurant at the
harbor.  The church was built in the 1100s and still in use today.  And of course found a
gelato stand.
Today is another beautiful day as I wait for coffee to finish brewing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


 This morning after a leisurely breakfast we walked over to the boat and enjoyed a nice cool ride across the lake to Thun, pronounced toon. 
Thun is a beautiful city with a castle. The castle was built in the 1100's and is now a museum. We enjoyed walking through all of the little streets looking at the old swiss houses.  We found a little bakery and shared a piece of delicious chocolate cake. 
On the walk back to the boat we stumbled upon a gelato shop and had to stop.
The town has three small rivers running through it and kids would jump from the bridges and let the 6 mph current carry them down to the next bridge.  It looked like they were having lots of fun, but I told Cindy if kids would try that back home they would probably get arrested.  Oh well, at least these kids know how to have real fun like we did growing up.
We made our way back to the boat and enjoyed a ride back to Interlocken.
We're packing up since we head to Genoa, Italy tomorrow morning.
Switzerland has been fun and is definately on our return list.

I wanted to ride on the side paddle wheeler but couldn't time it right

some captive they were about to torture

saw this sculpture as we were walking back to the boat.