Saturday, May 31, 2014

off to buy mustard...

only kidding, but we did start our barge cruise in Dijon!  we arrived on Sunday late late afternoon and met the crew... we were first off the bus and hugged Anna and Cyrille and settled in for a welcome kir royale. The crew put our bags in cabins and then each couple in turn went to our cabin to learn the ropes of the accommodations.  The barge is spectacular! 100% five star luxury.  King bed- plenty of drawers and closet space and lots of hangers.  A full size bathroom with what turned out to be fabulous water pressure in the showers and towels changed virtually every time you left your cabin... Six glorious nights in this luxury mode... we had no trouble adjusting.

after unpacking we all headed back upstairs to our briefing- and learned that we have life jackets in our cabins in case of the sinking of the barge but that if it sinks we will only have to stand on our beds to avoid getting wet- the canals are shallow (which is why -we later learn- the boat has a 7 inch draft LOL)

if there is fire go to the sun deck in the front because a fire would most likely be in the kitchen (other end of the barge) or the engine (ditto)

they give us the general schedule for each day and we meet the entire crew- Anna- captain; Stephane the pilot; Cyrille the chef; hostesses Marie and Teresa; and first mate Chris (the rookie of the crew and an Englishman to boot!)

the bar is always open and everything is included in the price of the trip- all the incredible gourmet meals, wines, cheeses and the dinner out at the three star Michelin restaurant in Chagny as well as all tours to wineries, towns and villages, tastings etc...

the boat has bicycles on board for use when we are on the canals and have options to walk or ride between locks along the way... the shortest distance between locks is .4 of a mile and the longest is 3 miles.... for the next five days we will be cruising at a speed slower than normal walking pace... so relax- we are in no hurry and have virtually no time table.

we are eventually called to the table for our first meal together- Anna introduces the wines and Cyrille the menu - eventually we get to the cheese course (which is always introduced by one of our lovely hostesses Marie or Teresa) and then dessert and after dinner drinks in the lounge....

so here are some photos so you will know just how truthful I have been in my descriptions- starting with three views of the living area (bar/lounge/salon)

the sundeck - the place with all the views of the canal and a lovely relaxing reading area-

the dining room (at dinner we all ate at one long table - for breakfast and lunch there were three tables of four) Dinner was full service - breakfast and lunch were buffets- with breakfast being served over several hours and lunch at a set time for the whole group of 12 passengers...

then our cabins- decked out with carved wood paneling and granite/marble table tops and counters- it truly could not have been nicer- and what was even more spoiling was the fact that every time we left our cabin for an activity one of the hostesses would come and change out damp towels and empty garbage- it was stupendous service!

the view from one of our two "porthole" windows -

the area where we docked the first night- (this was another barge docked nearby- our barge was navy blue on the bottom and taupe/beige on the top- as you will see later in photos taken from the canal side)

later in the evening- the same views-

our welcome drinks kir royale made with creme de cassis and the cocktail hour wine-

the dinner menu-

the cheese course was always introduced with detailed explanation of the source and affinage- and served with the first cheese to eat at 6 o'clock on the plate with the two others following in order at 9 and 12--- and we always had lovely fruit and crackers or breads as well as a freshly tossed green incredibly civilized! LOL

we have a map for the upcoming "voyage" and here is the first segment - followed by the shank of the evening - LOL with CBGB winding down before we all headed down to our luxurious cabins and a restful sleep... breakfast at 9 AM - LOL see you there - tables have already been set by Marie and Teresa...

tomorrow's journey will take us to Longecourt en Plaine - a huge distance of roughly  11 miles LOL- no kidding - less than 20km...

see you tomorrow for the first leg of our "sailing" LOL---

PS- here are some photos I rephoto-ed from the brochure in case they were better views than I got with mine- LOL

we were cabin B and CBGB were next door in cabin C-

stay tuned- a lot more good food and drink - and a few sights along the way too!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

a sunny Saturday

As I mentioned in the last post - on Saturday we decided to go to the Musee d'Orsay on our (now four) passes from the hotel.

These days despite many transgressions - supposedly no photography is allowed - therefore all I have are a few shots of the architectural features which continue to WOW the visitors to the converted train station - now a leading world art museum with one of the most amazingly collections of paintings anywhere-

from the windows on the top of the d'Orsay you could see Sacre Coeur- our afternoon destination-

We exited the museum around 12:30 and for lunch we stopped across from the Metro stop before heading up to Montmartre... I had oysters which were fabulous - and a Croque Monsieur which was not... it was a pedestrian meal - chosen for location versus food quality.  We headed down stairs to buy a series of tickets for our afternoon of travel on the metro and the funicular up to Sacre Coeur - and returning back to Rue du Bac.

everyone else in Paris had the same idea on a sunny Saturday afternoon so we drank in the center of the Place du Tertre along with several hundreds of others and enjoyed our afternoon.  After refreshing ourselves we did a short walk around some of the sights (the vineyard, the windmill, some art coming out of walls or art ON the walls LOL

for dinner we tried a new place called Les Climats - it focuses on Burgundian food and wine (in preparation for the barge trip in Burgundy this coming week)

the place was absolutely gorgeous and the food suited the setting as well- and I should mention the wine list - which was stellar-

a beauty of a wine cellar and a stunning deco bar-

as we exited - a man inquired whether we had enjoyed the place and we said "we had - very much"...he then proceeded to tell us that the building had been the dormitory for the women who worked the telegraph and telephone office back when women couldn't live without chaperones LOL

we headed back to the hotel to collect our laundry and pack for our week on the barge- only to find that everything was returned except my black pants- needless to say this hotel will never be a repeat experience

The good news was that they had located them before we checked out on Sunday morning after yet another good breakfast... from there we headed to the Hotel Raphael for our 2 PM meeting point for the barge trip.  We did a quick walk on the Champs Elysee and remembered why we always stay on the Rive Gauche.  We headed to the hotel bar for our free drink and a quick bite (2 salmon club sandwiches split between the four of us.)

while in the bar we met Joe and Pat from Santa Barbara and Jerry and Ellen from Philly - and were greeted by Stephane the pilot (rather than Anna the captain we expected..) - The transit is now by van (motor coach) rather than TGV (not an improvement) Stephane  rounds up the group for the Adrienne twelve people can be accommodated in the six cabins so we are already 1/3 of the group - we have met another 1/3 and the remaining members join us in the van outside - they are another Joe, and his friend and former neighbor Jack and Joe's wife Gayle (who I always wants to call Gladys- LOL)

We head into the heart of the countryside and the world's premier wine growing region Burgundy... now some may argue otherwise but most aficionados - even if Bordeaux drinkers - will admit the truth.  Centuries of exploration of terrior create - when all the stars are aligned so to speak- the most sublime wines on the planet.  We're spending the next week exploring the area in a boat that goes 35 miles in 6 days- LOL...
so follow along with us - as we take a journey which could not be any better in any way---

hardly anything in life is perfect - but this is one week that was completely perfect...from our arrival at the Adrienne until our departure for Lyon at the TGV station in the countryside of Burgundy- and you will be able to follow along as we enjoy our journey....