Read about this trip from the start – here.
Shangri La headed across the canal and through one last lock on the Burgundy Canal toward H2O to undergo her winterizing. As we approached the lock a car came hurtling around the corner and crashed into the railings on the bridge just before the lock bashing a section of the railing into the very space of water we were about to pass. A minute or two earlier and we might have been bumped on the head. He was lucky most of the railing held in place or he would have ended up in the water. The lock-keeper looked like an 80’s rock star – long hair, lean and a few piercings.
|The very last lock.|
The bollards had been painted to look like toadstools. He indicated to take the ropes and wanted to place us right at the back of the lock. But with davits poking backwards we preferred to sit in the middle of the lock. He did as we asked and gave the Gallic shrug. Then opened the manual locks. The water came through with such unexpected ferocity we had to hang on for dear life and fend to prevent our poor boat getting flung against the side of the lock. The lock-keeper said he knew better but did as we asked. Lesson learned.
We had a lady mechanic at H2O who spoke great English. Slight trouble with words for engine and motor parts but a few gesticulations and noises helped clarify what was meant. She had a look at our engine and agreed there was a bit of smoke. An early oil change would be wise and the auxiliary engine functions like fuel injectors could possibly do with an overhaul. We had no idea when that was last done. If ever. Winterizing is done to prevent pipes freezing and bursting. All water is drained from the main tank. She used a food grade anti-freeze for the shower, basins and loo. An engine anti-freeze went into the engine parts that use water. Only thing was, we still had two nights left of the boat and no water.
We always deliberate whether to check into a B and B or stay on the boat. There’s last minute cleaning, taking down of awnings, putting up of winter covers, packing away fenders and deck furniture, getting the dehumidifier tubs going and a good few other jobs that need to be done. It’s easier to be on the boat. But not having water to wash hand or clean dishes and not being able to use the toilet is a huge inconvenience.
|H2O marina St Jean-des-Losne|
That evening we watched rugby Rugby World Cup Brasserie de Port that night. France was playing and South Africa was out so we supported our host country. Early the next morning we heard the H2O blokes knocking on our boat. They had already started dragging her toward the slipway. I was still fast asleep but woke up and got dressed super-fast. I grabbed a hoodie and a bowl of breakfast and watched from the quay as Shangri La was towed out the water by a tractor. They guys hosed her down and took her to a spot in amongst all the other boats either being wintered or repaired. It’s such a weird feeling not really on the boat – but not yet off her. It’s always so hard to say farewell to our holiday home.
|Shangri La coming out the water.|
My other half had gotten us a train time-table from the Tourism Office so we could travel from St-Jean-de-Losne to Dijon. And from there to Paris. We planned our morning doing last minute things with our train time in mind. Then we set forth with our wheelie suitcases along the little road toward the local Garre (station). You know how sometimes you think you have your day planned – and it turns out NOTHING like you expected? This was one of those days if ever.
|My other half doing the oil change.|
At the station it emerged that the train time-table – is actually subject to a whole lot of conditions. Not sure who the guy was who helped me as he wasn’t in uniform, but he pointed out that the train times indicated had a digit at the top of each column, which unbeknown to us indicated the limited dates the service actually occurred. As it turns out there were NO trains until significantly later.
The next thing to do was race back the 1 kilometre plus along the tiny road toward the Tourism Office and explore our options. The woman there apparently spoke English. But actually didn’t. She mentioned one bus in three hours time but seemed to think we had to go all the way back to the train station to catch the bus. All she could tell us about the train service was what we now knew. The one and only taxi service wasn’t open. Luckily for us our lady mechanic drove past us and stopped to chat. We explained our predicament and she kindly offered to help.
She phoned a guy who travels from Dijon to St-Jean-de-Losne daily to find out how he does it. He confirmed there are very few trains. Then offered to ask someone to drive us to Dijon. Or – if we could hold out – she would take us when she went on lunch. I cannot begin to explain our immense gratitude to this woman. We were more than happy to wait at the local café for her. The minutes felt like hours and when she arrived in her van I could have kissed her feet. But first, this is France, she invited us for lunch. Lunch was a surprise. We had to tell her that we don’t eat meat and an uncomfortable look flashed through her eyes. As we arrived at her vintage Dutch barge she explained it to her partner. Who had made a meat stew. Awkward moment if ever! But these two so rose to the challenge. They rustled up an amazing meal. Home-made humous. French bread. Pickled peppers. Shredded beetroot salad. We picked out the meat and ate the veggies from the stew. I wouldn’t normally do that but in situations like this I do. And we had a lovely glass of Burgundy wine. Of course.
Then we dashed off for Dijon. Oh my Word! It’s a HUGE place. We got a bit lost but my husband produced MapsMe on his Smartphone and yet again we were saved. Some modern inventions I can do without. Fast food is one of them. But life without MapsMe is unthinkable. I don’t get paid to say that.
The next train to Paris was a few hours away so we had a little wander about Dijon before we finally got to Paris and checked into our hotel. Not sure how we are going to get to St Jean-des-Losne next year? But that was the end of almost three months of the waterways. I’ve said this before, I would never have imagined traveling on a boat, let alone on the waterways of Europe. This holiday had some stressful times but we have had the most amazing experiences on our beloved Shangri La. I have to thank my other half for this.
Shangri La is getting some much needed upgrades and Summer 2016 we will be boating in and around the Burgundy region. We want an easy year and have less time. You can read all about those trips on my blog.