Thursday, May 15, 2008


At the airport in Zurich we were able to find a French car that we could deliver to Toulouse, so we went for it. It was comfortable and roomy making our drive effortless. It was snowing in Zurich and as we drove south, it rained most of the way as far as Lyon. There was little evidence of spring until we hit Beziers, where the weather changed to balmy, and spring was very evident. All along the highway there were blooming trees and beautiful new growth. The sun was out all the way to Carcassonne, where we arrived around 5:30 pm after a nine hour ride. Our boat was in great shape; no leaks, no humidity. Right away Bill connected the electrics, filled the water tanks, and I proceeded to clean do some unpacking, and later went to the corner restaurant to eat. We were tired and jet lagged and managed to have a good night's sleep. Next day Bill drove to Toulouse airport to return the car while I unpacked the rest and cleaned the boat. By the time he got back on the train, Biesbosch was shining--inside, that is. The outside woul have to wait.

Most of the people who had stayed on their boats for the winter had already gone cruising except for Janet and Des and David and Rosie, with whom we had not had a chance to visit for long before we left. Well, this time we made up for it. We got a chance to spend some great evenings together eating a sharing great memories. Janet and Des went south to have their boat taken out of the water for cleaning, but Rosie and David stayed in Carcassonne, since not only do they have a boat, but are renting a beautiful apartment that overlooks The Cite. As we are now cruising, we hope they catch up with us soon, so we have time to spend some more time together.

The day we arrived at the port, we were given the bad news that the port might not be opening for winter mooring this coming year. We had already made a reservation for a spot, so we, along with everyone else were very disappointed to hear such news. The reason, political, we suppose, change of local government, etc. As I write, one month after our arrival n France, the issue has not been resolved, so we are looking for a place to leave the boat for the winter between here and Toulouse.

Our first week was spent getting our food supplies, spending time with Claudine and Michel, our friends who live in Carcassone, and savouring the city's every corner. It took us a couple of weeks to get caught up with the time difference and therefore function normally. Once that happened, Bill got to work painting the interior bow cabin that he had trimmed before we left, and reinstalling the toilet and sink in the same area. The second week, we drove west along the canal to see if we could find a port to leave the boat next winter. We visited our friends Mark and Celia who are in Malause, not far from here, and whom we had me on the Nivernais last year. Celia had brought me a fabulous fish cooking book by Rick Stein. We spent the night on Little Mouse, their beautiful boat, and had a great time together. We visited Moissac, a medieval town with one of the most important stops for the pilgrims who do the" Camino de Compostela". This interests me a great deal since I will be doing it in July with my sister in law, Libia and my friend Stella from Miami. ( More on that later.) We stopped at Castelsarrasin and Toulouse to inquire about winter moorings, but were put on a waiting list for the moment. On that same trip we visited the town of Montauban, which was a true surprise. It is one of the "red towns" in this area. It is all built in brick over a river, a true architectural jewel. As we make our way west on Biesbosch, we will be able to spend time exploring each of these beautiful towns. One sunny sunday we took 14 Km. bike ride to Trebes, east of Carcassone. We went along the tow path, stopped to watch the boats lock up and down, now from the point of view of an onlooker. At Trebes we sat at a cafe on the canal and had a most delightful glass of wine from the local winery before we pedaled back to the boat.

A lovely thing about having a boat is that people come by and want to know all about either the boat or life on it A very tall German man came by and told me how much he liked our boat. He told me he and his wife have been traveling in a 6x6-- at the time parked across the canal. Now that they have been seeing the boats on the Midil, he wants one just like ours. I invited him in to see it, and he said he wanted his wife to come by. They left for a few days but came back, he brought her by, we talked for a long time and I invited them over for dinner the next day. Their names are Uli and Eli. They have been traveling in Africa, The Sahara and Tunisia and all over Europe in their vehicle, whose interior was designed and built by him. This was his business in Germany. They came over for dinner and we had the best of times. They have such stories of their travels and the people they have met that we could have spent the whole night talking to them. The next morning before they left, they brought croissants and pain au chocolat and we had a fabulous breakfast together. We went to see their vehicle which is unbelievably beautiful and functional. analize We hope we get to see them again sometime. They downloaded some of their spectacular photos of their travels onto my computer. Before we left Carcassone, we spent some great times with David and Rosie on ther boat Suki and on Biesbosch. Our friends Malcolm and Lucie from Body and Soul, whom we had met in Briare two winters ago, spent a few days in Carcassone, so we had them over for drinks and then we went to theirs for a lovely dinner. Lucie is a gourmet cook and Malcolm, an accomplished pianist. We had an unforgettable evening with them. Our last Saturday, we spent the entire afternoon and evening at Place Carnot, sitting in the sun celebrating the birthday of Alan, one of our friends from the port at Felix, a great local restaurant. They were about to close, so we decided to walk to the canal to continue the celebration at a great little italian place.

Our last weekend in Carcassonne we went to lunch with Michel and Claudine to a restaurant called Au Prise D'Alzau on the Montagne Noir, a most beautiful spot. It is in an old forge bought and remodeled by a young Dutch couple. Before we ate, we walked along to see the spot where Riquet, the builder of the Canal du Midi canalized the stream, which along with others would feed the Canal du Midi. The night before we left Carcassonne,we had another incredible dinner at Claudine and Michel's with our friend Dany, the one who has the BB with the beautiful view of the Cite and who kept our car for the winter. On May 2 around 11 am, we said good bye to our wonderful Capitaine, Stephanie and cast off westbound in search of new adventures.

Rosie and Merlot

With Uli and Eli and their 6X6

With Stephanie, our lovely Captain

Malcolm and Lucy on Body and Soul

With Stephanie, Des, Janet, Rosie and David

A fabulous meal by Lucy

With Marc and Celia at Malause

The Pyrenees from The Montagne Noire

La Prise D'Alzau

Little Mouse

Portal detail at Moissac

Crystalline waters

Restaurant at Old Forge

Claudine and Michel at local shop

Moissac Monastery

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