Strasbourg, June 9th 2017
We have reached our goal for the first week of our long journey, Strasbourg, after a great week on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. Captain and crew (Nils, Joyce, Birgit and Ann) are all healthy and content, boat and engine working well, the French locks smoothly functioning. First picture: Joyce before the European parliament in Strasbourg, which lies close to the canal.
We started our trip June 4th and worked successfully through the seven last upward locks, climbing up the mountain range of the Vosgues, the canal going through gorgeous arches of deciduous trees of many kinds and with hundreds of singing birds. The first night we spent in the little village of Xouaxange (hard to pronounce!) where Joyce and I enjoyed the luxury of a ”grand lit” (kingsize bed) at a local hotel, where also the rest of the crew could enjoy a hot shower.
The next day we had some trouble with the cooling water of the engine becoming too hot, which was solved by the captain diving down under the boat and disentangling some water plants from the propeller. Then there were some exciting canal devices to pass. First we went through two tunnels (the longest 1,5 miles, see picture, where you actually can see the little opening in the end of the tunnel) going through the mountain under the rim of the Vosgues.
Then another exciting device: a boat lift, which took us 140 feet down the steepest part of the Vosgues, bypassing 17 locks (see picture). Amazing technique!
After some more downward locks we stayed the night in Lutzelbourg, another small charming village with a castle ruin high up (see picture).
The depth of the water was not deep enough for our boat but the problem was solved by using our gangway to bridge the gap (see picture with Birgit entering the gangway).
We enjoyed a good dinner on the local restaurant, which was decorated with American, British and French flags, celebrating June 6th 1944, the invasion of Normandie.
The third day we had some rain but had nevertheless a pleasant trip downward to the little town of Saverne, Alsace, a nice town with with a huge castle, Chateau des Rohan in the middle of town, a magnificent neoclassical palace. (Se picture with Birgit and me).
Here we took a day of rest, Joyce and I visiting the famous rose-garden (the Roseraie) where they have rose competitions every year and showing 550 different kinds of roses – see Joyce among the other roses:
I also had an electrical problems on the boat, which was solved smooth and fast by calling Bill, our excellent mechanic in Lagarde.
Yesterday was then our fifth day, and now we had definitely left the Vosgues, which became blue mountains on the horizon in our back. A memorable moment was when several storks made their magnificent landing on a field where they were harvesting hay. But even more memorable was the evening, when Jean Hustel, an old French friend of Birgit´s, invited us to his home, not very far from the canal. It was an old 18th Century farm in the village of Hochfrankenheim, where he lived together with his son, who was a sculptor and proudly showed us his huge atelier in one of the barns.
We spent a lovely afternoon there, admiring the old house, learning about Jeans interesting life as an actor and ”animateur culturel” and also about the fascinating history of the province of Alsace, shifting back and forth between French and German rulers (See picture of Jean and Birgit).
The evening was then spent on a local restaurant with a genuine , huge Alsacian meal, a smoked hand of pork with a sauce of horse radish and potato salad and chips.
Today was an easy trip through the last locks and tying up the boat in a marina not far from the center. Here we will stay for three days, be tourists, leaving our first crew, Birgit and Ann and receiving the next one, Clara, on Sunday.
At last – a picture of my excellent mate through 42 locks from Lagarde to Strasbourg, Ann.