I had a few more photos from the river cruise, so thought I’d give you a few final thoughts on our river-cruising adventure . . . emphasis on FINAL. David said his favorite part was giving the boat back at the end, so I think that means we’re unlikely to repeat this adventure. It was certainly WAY more stressful than I expected, although now we could probably pull it off with a bit more sang-froid, after four and a half days of experience. Not much, but it sure beats ZERO. I even managed to dock the boat at the Jarnac base–with three employees of Le Boat watching my approach–without crashing into anything or anyone. Fortunately, my heart-rate was not being monitored.
But I last left you with our failures at Saintes, so to wrap up: We did get out of there without further incident, and made it through the two locks on the way back to Cognac in a semi-pleasant mood. We’d been through them all on the way downstream, so at least knew what to expect. The first lock upstream from Saintes is automatic, tended by a charming–and completely calm–young woman, who pushes the right buttons at the right moments, which left me free to photograph this random, cool French sight:
We shared the next lock with a couple who have been cruising the Charente for fourteen years. FOURTEEN YEARS. What?
I promise my French is good enough that I understood her correctly–both times she said it. I made her tell me again after I asked her if I had heard her right over the sound of rushing water. Wow. They did seem to have it down to a science, though. And our smiling bicycle friend, who had helped us on the way downstream, arrived just as we were exiting, and told us he’d close up and we should keep going. Okay. Back to Cognac. There are worse destinations.
We spent the last night (Friday night the 29th) back at the exact same mooring in Cognac we’d had on the way downstream, so that was easy. Then we had another walk around town, where I found this amusing sign . . .
. . . which means, roughly, “Here on the 17th of April, 1891, absolutely nothing happened.” Priceless in a town (and country, really) absolutely overrun with tourists snapping away at historical sights, like this:
The last day we had to get through three locks all by ourselves, so David drove into the first one and I was doing all the cranking and wheel-turning and power-walking around to the other side to close or open the lock doors and sluice gates, and he made the mistake of saying, “Can’t you do this any faster?” Um, no, actually. So we switched places, and David found out exactly how much work it is doing a manual lock without assistance, while I got to practice remaining calm (and driving and mooring).
. . . which eventually brought us back to Jarnac, where we . . . phew . . . GAVE BACK THE BOAT. Woohoo! Deep cleansing breath, everyone.
We then had some time before our train to see this:
Ironically, one of the reasons I wanted to go on this particular boat trip, in this particular location, was to see this crypt. And it was right there, two blocks from the starting point!
What else is under my nose that I’m missing?