2004
Winter 2004

 

Crossing the equator, summer instead of winter, exploring another continent, being near an ocean again, visiting barging friends at their home in Cape Town, these were some of the irresistible reasons that brought us to South Africa this winter.

We packed light because summer clothes don't take up much room and we wanted to leave room for shopping in South Africa because of the good dollar/rand exchange rate.

After 24 hours of travel on trains and planes, our friends picked us up at the Cape Town airport and our African adventure began.

Directional signs pointing to cities all over the world and telling how many kilometers away they are

 

 

 

In Cape Town, we were much closer to the South Pole than we were to our home town of San Francisco

 

 

 

colorful cabins lining the beach

 

 

 

South African beaches were beautiful and this one on False Bay was colorful too

 

 

 

 

 

A view of Table Mountain from a nearby beach

 

 


At a beach outside of Cape Town, we stopped to watch some kite-surfers with Table Mountain in the background. The "tablecloth" of fog was lying on top of the "table"

 

 

 

Penguins running around on a sandy beach

 

 

 


At Simon's Town, we walked along the beach with the penguins

 

 

 



Monument on the beach marking the Indian Ocean on one side and the Atlantic Ocean

 

 

 

After two weeks in Cape Town, we set out along the Garden Route on the Indian Ocean. Here at Cape Agulhas we were standing on the southernmost tip of the continent of Africa, between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans

 

 

A light house

 

 

 

The Cape Agulhas lighthouse watches over this area on the tip of Africa which is known as the "Graveyard of Ships"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A mother and baby elephant

 

 

 

 

At a reserve along the Garden Route, we fell in love with the elephants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful village on the Atlantic Coast.  All of the houses are white with blue roofs

 

 

 


After our tour of the Indian Ocean Coast we traveled up the Atlantic Coast were we stayed in the peaceful fishing village of Paternoster

 

 

 

 

 

A white house and a very blue sky

 

 

 

 



Paternoster reminded us of Greece in its simple beauty and the peaceful atmosphere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covered deck facing the blue ocean.  A place of peace and comfort.

 

 

 

 

We stayed a few days at the Oystercatcher's Haven and we could have stayed forever

 

 

 

 

 



Two full glasses of white wine and the chilled bottle sitting on the deck rail; the ocean in the background

 

 

 

 

 

South African wines were a fine finish to a good day in a beautiful place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convent House in the snow in France

 

 

 

 


After a month in South Africa, we returned to winter in France for a week while we repacked our suitcases for a trip to San Francisco and Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

A San Francisco cable car

 

 

 

We stayed in San Francisco for a week before and a week after our Hawaiian vacation. The weather was wonderful and we enjoyed being in "The City" again

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaiian flowers

 

 

 

 



We flew to Kauai to attend a family wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy and Ron saying their vows

 

 

 

 

 

Our niece Judy and her fiance Ron said their vows in a beautiful Hawaiian ceremony

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big smiles after the vows

 

 

 



We were so happy to be able to be with Judy and Ron on their wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Little girls dancing the Hula on the lawn

 

 

 

Their reception dinner was held on the terrace of an old plantation with hula dancers preforming on the grass below

 

 

 

 

 

Glass of Champagne with Hawaiian dancers in the background

 

 

 


It was wonderful to be able to be there with the rest of our family to celebrate Judy and Ron's marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Hawaiian sunset

 

 

 

 

 

After a week on Kauai visiting family, we flew to Kona to visit friends and enjoy another week of beautiful Hawaiian sunsets...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mai Tai's

 

 

 

...and Mai Tai's

 

 

 

 



Beautiful orange Hawaiian sunset

 

 

 

 

 

As always, our vacation went by too quickly. It was time for us to say "Aloha" to our friends and to head off into the sunset, back to our real life in France

 
Spring 2004

 

After months of enjoying summer weather in far away places, we returned to France to find that spring had not yet arrived. We put away our shorts and put on our raincoats.

On the occasional day without rain, we were able to finish our spring painting, and in the middle of May we entered the lock to hit the canals for our 5th cruising season.

Just like magic, every spring a transformation takes place in that first lock that takes us from our home port out onto the canals. Our house that has been so comfortable all winter changes into a barge, our car morphes into two bikes and we become kids again, excited to see what we will find around each bend in the canal.

Morning mist on the canal
Misty mornings often announce a new day of cruising, as we like to arrive at the next lock as soon as it opens. If we start early, we can stop early. Mooring early in the afternoon leaves time to explore a new village or ride our bikes along a country lane.

 

Our plans were simple this year. We just wanted to enjoy all of the lovely towns and villages along one of our favorite canals, while keeping the bow aimed toward Paris.   

 

 
                                         Decize      

The town of Decize in the distance

 

Nevers from across the Loire river

Many boats that we know were also heading toward Paris this year, and we have found old friends in almost every port along the way.

 

 

    
    Nevers                     
        

 

Country moorings are peaceful interludes, but we prefer the spontaneous barbecues or dinners in town that happen when friends pull into port.
 Eclaircie on a peaceful canal

 

Aussies putting a shrimp on the barbi
In Montargis, one of our longest stops this year, we even had the chance to watch while real Australians put shrimp on the barbie.     

 

Montargis was also where we enjoyed La Fête de la Musique this year. We strolled through town and watched as the locals sang and danced with great enthusiasm. It looked to us like the whole town participated by dancing in the streets or by joining together to sing. One group sang songs in Chinese. The groups performing were an interesting mix of young and old, and just like every year on the 21st of June, the streets were alive with music long past midnight.
Village scene
 Chic Couple dancing the Tango Couples dancing in the street
 Everyone dancing in the street Muscians playing in front of a chocolate shop
 Kids singing on a stage Adults singing

 

A little closer to Paris we stopped in Moret sur Loing. They use their very beautiful medieval village as the stage for a summer sound and light show. Because it doesn't get dark until late here in the summer, the show doesn't start until 11pm. The evening was warm and the show was so beautiful that we felt like we were dreaming.
 Moret-sur-Loing at night
 Actor standing in the spotlight Another scene

Saint-Mammès is just a few kilometers from Moret, and we rode over there often as they were hosting La Fête de l'Eau, an annual festival of water sports and water related activities.

 Man showing us the model boat that he built We strolled past all of the booths, tasting and buying some delicious cider at one booth, some cheese at another. We talked with a man whose hobby was making model boats. He spent 800 hours building this boat. He even added recorded sounds of the sea gulls flying along behind the boat.

 

We were sitting in a sidewalk cafe, when we saw this little boat go by, powered by the captain's feet. Like us, we think that they were headed toward ParisFrench people being funny

From our home port of Roanne, we can drive to Paris in just five hours. Traveling leisurely along the canals, stopping as we pleased and meeting friends along the way, it took us a month and a half to reach our goal.

We have enjoyed living in the small villages along the canals, but for the next month or so, we will be just as happy to live in our own home, with many friends as neighbors, in the heart of Paris.

Eclaircie moored in Paris

   
           

 
Summer 2004

 

Bastille monument viewed from our port

Travel by barge may be slow, but when you finally arrive at your destination you have your home with you. There are no suitcases to unpack and nothing forgotten "back home". Because home is wherever you go on a barge, this summer our home was in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

We arrived at the end of June to find gray skies and rain storms, but we were still happy to be back at the Port de Plaisance Paris Arsenal near the Bastille. Our friends who have lived there for the past year greeted us with sunny smiles and helped us get acclimated by introducing us to their favorite shopkeepers.

We fell in love with their wine guy, and we were very disappointed when their tomato vendor at the covered market at Place d'Aligre went on vacation in August. He had almost as many varieties of tomatoes as the wine shop had bottles of wine.

The market days on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir helped us keep well supplied for picnics at jazz concerts in the Bois de Vincennes or dinners with friends on our back deck.

We fell into a comfortable daily routine and the days flew by full of pleasant surprises. The weather improved. We took long walks to balance out the lunches and dinners we were sharing with friends. Our Australian friends introduced us to Le Chartier, a restaurant that has rubbed elbows with three centuries, served more than 50 million meals and has been named a national monument. We had so much fun there, that we went back often to share a meal with visiting friends or boating neighbors.


Close up of a pony's head

 

Like our hometown of San Francisco, Paris has great parks where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Le Jardin du Luxembourg offers everything from pony rides to art exhibits and is a great for people watching. We love the fact that they have a coat rack on their boule court, and that the people playing chess actually make it interesting to watch. They think so hard that you can see the wheels turning in their heads as they plan their next move.

 

 

Café Les Deux Magos

 

 

 

After a stroll through the park it is not too far to our favorite café, Les Deux Magots.

We like watching the Parisians and the tourists, and there is no better place than a comfortable front row seat at a café. With a noisette and a newspaper, you can lose a morning there. And if you don't have any plans for the day you can order un crottin chaud pain Poilâne et un petit blanc and stay for lunch.

 

 

 

 

One of the items on our list this summer was to find just the right painting for our salon, and walking along the main street on the Île Saint-Louis, a painting in a gallery window drew us in. After meeting the gallery owner and then the artist, after sharing Champagne with them on our back deck, and after making the rounds of the other galleries all over town to comparison shop, we returned to the Île Saint-Louis to Galerie Amyot and bought a painting from Richard de Prémare. He is a contemporary French impressionist, and we debated about his beautiful paintings of the French countryside, like the one that had originally attracted our attention, but finally decided on a painting of Les Deux Magots. That way, with the painting hanging on our wall, we can visit our favorite café whenever we want.July 14th parade

The next item on our list for our summer in Paris was to see all of the Bastille Day events. In the past we have always been in small towns or villages on the 14th of July, so being in Paris was a real step up in the event department.

On the eve of this national holiday there are dances at firehouses around the city, and the mood anywhere around those casernes de pompiers is very festive. We went out to dinner with friends that night, and by the time we arrived at our neighborhood firehouse the party had spilled out onto the nearby Place du Marché Saint-Catherine where all of the cafés were overflowing with happy people celebrating the storming of the Bastille.

On July 14th we woke up early, took the métro to the Place de la Concorde and followed the constantly increasing crowd. Everyone was searching for the best place to watch the parade. People in the know brought stools or step ladders, but even without something to stand on, we had a good view and only slightly envied the people sitting comfortably upstairs at Pino's Pizza just across the street. They had a great view of the parade, comfortable chairs and pizza. Outside on the street leaning on the barriers, we were, however, right up front where Jacques Chirac could see us wave at him as he rolled by standing up in his Jeep waving to the crowd.
fireworks with the Eiffel Tower in the background
We were lucky enough to have friends at Port Grenelle on the other side of town who had a great view of the Eiffel Tower, so we went over there to watch the fireworks on the night of the 14th. Their port captain had organized a pot luck barbecue and everyone put their barbecues, tables and chairs on land and we had dinner with fireworks bursting over our heads and LaTour Eiffel as background lighting. The party was fun and it was a special night. We stayed so long that the métro was closed at our last transfer point, and we had to walk the rest of the way home. It was late, but the weather was warm and we savored the day as we walked home along the Seine.

 

There was now only one more event on our list. We wanted to be on the Champs-Élysées to see Lance win his sixth Tour de France.

Our barge decorated with American Flags and yellow flags spelling out

 

Our friends Karen and Barry are avid cyclists, and our personal Tour de France experts. We called and invited them to come and stay with us during the last few days of the Tour.

They left their barge at a safe mooring on the Canal du Centre, and hopped a train to Paris. Along with Jim and Beth, our old friends and now Paris port neighbors, we watched the last couple of days of the race on TV. We visited while we watched the riders approached Paris. We shared meals, toasted our reunion, and decided to decorate the boat.

On the final day of the race we went to the Champs-Élysées. Karen and Barry came with us, but Jim and Beth wanted to stay home, at our home actually, because they don't have a TV. They offered to cook dinner for all of us that night, and since they are great cooks, a deal was struck. We would go off to fight the crowds and they would watch everything on our TV and feed us when we came home.
Tour de France racers going past
We had done some reconnaissance of the Champs-Élysées, got some good advice from a cousin who had gone to the race the year before, and made a plan. We would arrive early, choose a spot on the barrier in front of Le Madrigal, (another favorite café and handy bathroom stop) and wait for the race to begin.

We arrived at 10 am, with our back packs full of supplies to keep us going all day. The first thing that happened after we claimed our spot was that we met a very charming Frenchman, Fabien, who lived in Paris and had been to race several times before. We talked with him about the race and about his life in Paris. We enjoyed his company and we followed his lead as he sat on the sidewalk with his back to the barrier. It was pretty comfortable sitting like that and we had a great view of all the people walking along the boulevard. Around noon we got hungry and dug into our back packs. We have had lunch on the Champs-Élysées many times before, but never sitting directly on the sidewalk. It wasn't bad. The day flew by as we watched race fans walk by and talked with our new barrier friends.

The crowds kept increasing all day and by the time Lance and his team came into view, people were ten deep at the barriers. Excitement was pulsing through the crowd. It was worth the wait to be there.

It was thrilling to see the racers fly by exuding muscles, skill and joie de vivre. They were beautiful. They were fast. Fortunately they made six laps, otherwise it would have all been over before we knew what happened. Each time that they passed by, Barry and Karen helped us by pointing out who was who and what was what. They we our own personal color commentators.

Lance Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France, and we were so excited to be there. On the victory lap, the teams waved to the fans and called greetings to each other. They were joyous at having finished the race and the mood was relaxed and happy. Some riders had their children riding with them on their handlebars; one French rider hopped off his bike to kiss a group holding up a sign that said they were his fan club. Lance and the U.S. Postal Team rode by last and the crowd jumped up and down and cheered their victory.

We waved and clapped and cheered and cheered. When it was over we melted into the slowly moving crowd, and pressed from all sides, we made our way along the Champs. We walked home, there was no other choice with some many people leaving at the same time, picking up speed finally when the crowd thinned out along the Rue de Rivoli. At Rue Saint-Antoine we called Jim and Beth to let them know wemore tour were almost home. And when we finally walked in the door at around 8 pm, they handed us each a glass of Champagne, and we toasted a great day.

That night dinner on the back deck, with Paris as the back drop, was delicious because of the food and the friendship.

By the time August rolled around, many neighborhood shops and market stalls were closed for vacation, our friends from San Francisco had come and gone, leaving good memories behind, and we knew that it was time to begin our journey back home to Roanne.

We spent our last few days in Paris enjoying a quiet morning at a café here and a pleasant dinner at a neighborhood restaurant there. We went to the beach and strolled along the river. We savored the pleasures of living in Paris. Then one morning we got up early, entered the lock and took our home back out onto the Seine.

 

Summer Photo Album

 

Paris Plage

 

 

 

 



Paris Plage - a wonderful summer event created by the mayor of Paris in 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People enjoying Paris Plage

 

 

 

 

The city closes a busy two lane roadway along the Seine during July and August and converts it into a beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

more plage

 

 

 

Two hundred tons of sand make up the beach, which is then decorated with palm trees, lounge chairs, hammocks. All this work, just for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

older folks playing cards in Luxemburg Gardens

 

 

 

 

A card game - Luxembourg Garden

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny day of cruising

 

 

 

 

 

On our way home, at Briare, we cross over the Loire River on the 662 meter pont canal built by Gustave Eiffel in 1890

 

 

 

 

 

 

a country church

 

 

 

 


The village church at Montbouy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

leaning village houses

 

 

 

 



On the back streets of Ouzouer-sur-Trézee we found this house, and we fell in love with its personality

 

 

 

 

 

 

morning mist on the canal

 

 

 

 



Mist on the canal as we get an early start on the day

 

 

 

 

 

A bike used as a flower pot

 

 

 

 

 

A peaceful country scene at a lock - it reminded us of the Tour de France

 

 

a colorful moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A country moon at Cours les Barres

 
Fall 2004

 

People skating on an outdoor rinkRoanne, our adopted home town in France, keeps getting better and better. The town is constantly improving itself, restoring old buildings, adding new pedestrian streets, and renovating neighborhoods. Every year when we return home in the fall, we notice that there are more trees and flowers.

Over the next year, the city plans to restrict cars from the Place du Marché to restore the town square to its original beauty, and they are building a new entertainment complex near the train station. It will be our first indoor mall with movie theaters, restaurants, and shops. They are remodeling all of the city offices, and building an exhibition center behind the Hotel de Ville. They have been adding new bicycle lanes as they repave and widen the streets, and just for fun this Christmas they built an ice rink in front of the town hall. It is always interesting to return home after six months of cruising and see what changes have been made since we left in the spring.

This fall as we passed through our last lock of the season and entered our port, the sun was warmer and the sky was bluer than it had been for months. It was the first day of the annual Fêa couple drinking Champagnete du Port, and we had come back early to see our friends who had just arrived the week before.

Our San Francisco Fire Department friends, Jim and Mary, were standing at our mooring, smiling and waving and waiting to catch our lines. They bought the barge, "Festina Tardé" earlier this year, and they had just brought the boat back to Roanne to spend their first winter as our barge neighbors.

We hurried through our mooring chores so that we could open a bottle of champagne. We celebrated our reunion, and their new life in France, and we are all so happy to be here together that we have been celebrating ever since.

On our first night back in Roanne, we joined hundreds of people from town at the festival dinner and dance at the Maison du Port, where we ate moules frites and danced to what sounded like a French polka band. The evening was warm, twinkling lights were strung up over all the picnic tables and the dance floor. Families and friends were enjoying a simple meal together and they stayed at the tables talking and laughing as the children ran back and forth playing. The music was so lively that you couldn't help tapping your feet and eventually your feet lead you to the crowded dance floor. There were more women and children than men dancing for the fast songs, and there were couples who came to the floor just for the slow dances. Everyone was enjoying themselves and no one looked like they wanted to be anywhere else. We felt like we had landed in the middle of a foreign film as the music, the dancers and the language swirled around us. We danced and laughed and sang French songs even though we didn't know the words. We smiled so much that our faces hurt, and like all good parties, we thought that the evening ended too quour friends barge entering a lockickly.

 

 

 

 

Over the next month, our neighborhood grew just a bit bigger everyday as friends returned to port, and as everyone slipped back into their moorings, we expected to get back into our normal winter routine.

 

 

 

 

 another friends barge coming home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the winter we usually spend equal amounts of time working on the boat or going out and having fun, but this year we have done very little work and we have had lots of fun, and it is all Jim and Mary's fault.

It is a good thing that we have already fixed everything on the boat that needed fixing, because we have been swept away by their enthusiasm about being in France, and we haven't been home very much. Between the four of us, somebody always comes up with an idea of somewhere that we just have to go or something that we just have to do. If there is an event anywhere in the area, we are there!
bread baking truck
After the port festival, Roanne put on a great celebration for the 60th anniversary of their WWII liberation. We walked into town that morning, and tumbled backwards in time as we fell in behind a parade of American WWII jeeps and trucks lead by a French army band. The trucks were driven by people in army uniforms from WWII, and people standing on the streets were waving French and American flags. After the official ceremony and the speeches, there was free champagne and a dance band began playing Glen Miller's music. Men dressed in 1940's American and French army uniforms were dancing with women dressed in blouses and skirts with bobby sox and high heels. The crowd watched the dancers for awhile and then got into the mood of the moment. The dance floor was soon crowded with older people dancing and remembering a great day long ago.

That afternoon we drove out to the airfield where the celebration moved into the sky with a fleet of vintage planes. 1940's music blasted from loud speakers, booths were selling memorabilia, model airplanes and vintage clothing, and there were more soldiers and jeeps. We stared into the clouds watching the planes take off and land, and we held our breath during the air stunts when the old planes looked like they were about to spin right into the ground. Before we left, we bought bread that was baked in a WWII mobile field unit wood burning oven to have with our dinner.

Harvesting the grapes with a beautiful village in the background













 more harvest

Not only have we be going to every event for miles around, but attending wine tastings, food fairs and exploring small villages has become our new collective hobby. Some days we drive and some days Jim and Mary do, and our cars are beginning to stop automatically at cute restaurants with menu boards out front. We have already taken car trips to Holland and Belgium, and Spain and Italy are on the list for 2005. In researching our trips and buying tickets to events, the people at the train station and the tourist office are beginning to know us by name. We learn about events from local friends or during conversations at the gym or hikes with our walking club. Then, we go off in search of the details.

Last week we went to the tourist office to buy tickets to a concert, and we asked about several other events that we had heard about from our French friends. The woman was looking through all of her files trying to find the times and dates of the events we were asking about, and when we brought up yet another event that she was not aware of, she laughed and said that we were better informed than she was.

Our list of planned adventures keeps getting longer as we hear about trips and must see events, and we have had to increase our walks and our time at the gym to keep up with all of the lunches and wine tastings. It's fun, lots of fun.

We have reached a point in our barging life where all of the hard work is done, and it is time to play. Jim and Mary are still feeling like they are on vacation, so they want to go everywhere and do everything all at once. We all feel like we have found the pot at the end of the rainbow, and we just can't believe how lucky we are.rainbow over a castle

 

 

P. S. We took this picture of the rainbow last Sunday on our way to lunch at the Hotel Central in Renaison.