Day 5: You’ve Got Biere!

Morning. Still no booze. I thought maybe the Booze Fairy might visit, but I guess she was too drunk on the booze we missed out on to haul her fairy ass to our boat.

Luckily after much stretching and groaning and a bit of whining, Carmen and L hit the roads in the bikes to fetch me my booze. I made a list. It had Maple Joe and booze. And booze. And booze. They came back with booze and the Maple Joe. Apparently you have to write it down at least 6 times if you really want it.

After we loaded the fridge with wine, beer and cider we cast off and headed for the first lock. At the first lock a VNCF fellow was painting so he started the cycle for us. These automatic locks are odd.

We cruised on down the canal and stopped for lunch around Dettwiller. Fresh baguette, Dijon mustard, ham, tomatoes and some French white pepper: France incarnate. Soon we were on our way again and eventually a German family in a large steel boat (Kuhnle lines) slid into a lock behind us. They followed on a few locks and then disappeared. I assume they stopped for lunch.

Coincidentally, so did we. At the next lock the lock was stuck in upstream position, so Leslie whipped out her French and used the intercom to ask them to activate ecluse 38. Nothing happened. Eventually a few boats coming from the other direction entered the lock at the same time as the VNCF employees showed up to cycle the lock by hand.

Once agin we were floating. Today’s travels featured storks. Apparently storks hang out in fields while waiting for the next delivery. I posit that the corn fields have something to do with baby production. Carmen just thinks the storks are misguided and a bit lost.

Eventually we passed through the last lock in Waltenheim Sur Zorn and moored up behind a huge converted barge. A few moments later everything was locked down and locked up and we hoofed it into town. These Alsatian towns are distinctly German in feel. It is at least what I’ve always imagined German feels like. Lots of cuckoo clock-like balconies, half timbered frames and colour. Lots and lots of colour. And a goat.

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One of the interesting features of the architecture is the homes seem to be built in a giant ‘U’. One side is a home, one side is a barn and the centre is a courtyard. The U is generally closed off by giant sliding doors. As we strolled around we’d often see the interiors with old tack, broken down tractors…typical average farm yards. But in the middle of town.

In one yard there was a family of goats milling around. As we passed by, the Billy took one look at Carmen and bleated “Now there’s a woman who will appreciate an old goat!” He immediately charged on to the street, making Leslie run and Bruce jump and Carmen smile.

We all said hello and proceeded up hill. The goat decided that was a great plan. As we toured the town, church, schools, lovely rose gardens, Mr Goat showed us the sights and commented on the taste of the various rose varieties and a small taste test of the rosemary. It gave Carmen ideas, but this year she managed to refrain from petty herb theft. It was a bit disconcerting when he charged to catch up. The clippy-clop of the hooves on the cobblestone coming up behind you combined with the 18″ horns generally made you dive to one side or another.

As we reached the outskirts of town we decided to turn back and see if we could drop off our guide at home. About half way back we found a lonely goat herd in search of a goat. She grabbed him by the horns, pointed him home and started dragging. A few badly phrased words revealed his name was Willy and from her severe countenance, we gleaned that escorting tourists was definitely NOT an official duty.

In another note, Carmen had whipped up a dough this morning before we cast off and all day watched it rise. Since she had no Zak this year (Zak, if you read this, you are missed), she basically had to amuse herself in the bow watching yeast rise and the occasional bit of laundry. Since I saw her wear at least 4 sets of pants by noon — she had some weird-ass excuse (pun intended) about slippery butts and waist slippage — I guess she needed to start in on the laundry, even though it’s only day 5. Anyway, there’s dough.

On the way back we watched a few boats go through the lock, including the German family we had met earlier. The lock employee had met earlier was also there and another German fellow in a beautiful private boat was up front in the lock. And then the shout. Somehow the stern line in the hire boat got tied off and the water was dropping. This would eventually hang up the stern and potentially roll the boat. The private boat owner notices first and the lock guy dived for the emergency cutoff. They caught it in time and as the lock keeper was actually present, he was able to reverse he lock until there was enough slack to untie the line. Reverse the cycle once again and it was all good. Nice to see my worst nightmare happen to someone else and not me.

Back at the boat we unshipped the bikes. An anonymous French dog-walker had informed us there was no boulangerie in Waltenheim sur Zorn and, while there was a bread truck, we’d have to head into Mommenheim to find anything else. Since Mommenheim is only 2k down the road we pedaled our asses over and toured around and picked a few emergency baguettes.

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Back at the boat we moved onto Restaurant √† l’Ancre for dinner. An awesome little place alongside the lock. I had a meteor beer from the local brewery at Hochfelden while the other two went for a Demi pichette of Pinot Auxerrois. We’d never heard of it but it was lovely. Leslie rekindled her affair with pizza Napoli (capers and anchovies… Blech!) and Carmen had a chef’s salad with blanc de poulet, lardon, egg and I think there might have been some lettuce in there somewhere. I had a local specialty called Tarte de Flamb√©. It’s basically a super thin crust pizza with a different cheese. Pretty damn good. An expresso for C and I finished it off (apparently her first) and we wandered home to crack a bottle of pure Alsatian white wine education. First up: Chasselas. Not dry, but dry. Not sweet, but sweet.

Ah, France.

Note: Shoech Ammerschwihr was the winery of the Pinot Auxerrois.

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