I needed to go for a run. Let's not pretend, I go for a light jog, but whatever, I needed to move. One nice thing about the waterways in Belgium and in France is there is always a tow path right next to the canal. Long ago back when there weren't motors, they used horses on the side of the canals to drag barges. Apparently, according to one of the tourist guides they used humans in Belgium!
Woman would knit as they walked dragging barges. Now that's multi-tasking. The upside of a run is I get a bit ahead and see where we're going. Namur had a lovely promenade next to the canal. It was yet another hot day. All the world was out swimming, water ski-ing, canoeing, basking in the sun and generally enjoying the good weather while it lasted. I liked Namur.
The Capitain as they call a Havenmeester (harbour master) in French arrived late. He's a busy guy managing 3 marinas. He spoke perfect English and offered loads of information and advice including a fuel top up. Hell yes! And the rate was excellent considering it was being delivered. He gave directions to the organic market and advised us not to go too early. We were thrilled to have the fuel problem solved and geared up to pop across the River Meuse around 09.00am the next morning. He also collected his fee for the two nights a whole €7 per night. Excluded electricity which was .50c per 3 amps. No facilities either. But for those who want or need the full works they had facilities on the opposite side at the private marina.
Taking in fuel
We did the city walk in Namur as per the booklet. It took two hours. It's nice and worth doing. We like that they kept it short and we could follow it without getting lost. We also went to the organic market. It's small but they had all a person needs. According the the Capitain it's busier outside of holiday season. Many of the vendors were on vacation. We bought the tastiest tomatoes I've ever eaten in my life. The farmers supplying them are doing something right. And we bought a bag of whole brown rice. There were also organic cheese and meat vans but we're almost vegan so gave them a miss.
Handy direction sign
We were expecting to take in fuel so untied bright and early and popped across the River Meuse to a vacant spot and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The Capitain had phoned and the fuel man said he was five minutes away. Which wasn't true. He arrived two and a half hours later with his fuel tanker then drove up next to the boats. It's a bit like pumping petrol into a car but you pump it from a lorry into a boat. Fortunately we weren't leaving that day or our travel plans would have been wrecked. We were grateful to have fuel delivered to our boat. We paid €1.20 per litre for diesel.
Heading towards Dinant
The next day we left for our very last stop in Belgium - Dinant. The terrain was changing. It wasn't as flat anymore. We spotted the odd castle (chateaux). The architecture had more slate roofs and turrets. Swans glided along the canal. The canal was only going to get narrower so less big barges came past. Six deep locks later we arrived earlier than expected in Dinant and tied up on the town side of the river. The Tourist Office was directly opposite on the other side of the river so we popped over the bridge and loaded up on leaflets and were delighted to be given three FREE Leffe beers. Dinant is the home of Leffe beer. It was hell hot so we wanted to avoid the sun and sit on our back deck reading up on Dinant. We chatted to a couple who planned to go to Paris but alas their engine packed in. They were limping back to Roermond in the Netherlands to have their engine replaced.
Trying to figure out how to do a load of washing
Back at the boat we tried to connect to the electricity supply but nothing happened. My husband tried another socket. Still nothing. He took out the extension cable, moved to another pole and tried the sockets there. Nothing. We were dejected and realised we must have an electrical problem on our boat. We have an invertor and a generator so we could manage. It was a Saturday and we could only start to find someone on Monday. Not much we could do but chill and drink beer watching the world go by. What we didn't know is they were having a biker rally in medieval Dinant. Hoardes of bikers roared around this normally sleepy town. They made an almighty noise. Emergency sirens went off every few minutes. No exaggeration on this. One has to wonder what could be going so wrong for emergency vehicles to be charging about so much? More than one boat left to find somewhere quieter. We were stuck as we had to solve our electricity problem.
Keeping cool in Dinant
One thing we found in Dinant is we could sort of understand when they spoke. I keep referring to the folk in Wallonia as French and saying we couldn't understand them. I suspect the reason is they speak a French dialect in Belgium. Close to the French border it was more like we expected French to be. We were furiously brushing up on our Michel Thomas French CDs. Also some of what we'd forgotten was slowly coming back. But we still had a long way to go before we could have a conversation. I needed to prioritise numbers and counting so I could at least understand how much money they were asking for at the supermarkets. All I could say in perfect French was that I couldn't speak French. Locals would look at me perplexed.
The next day it was bucketing down
Sundays not a lot happens. We decided to move our boat to the opposite side of the river as the amenities and Tourism Info office were both there. We hoped it would be a bit quieter and we thought we might have better signal so we could avail ourselves of the free wi-fi in Dinant. We tied up right outside the Tourist Office. I don't know what made my husband think to try and plug in the electricity again. But he did. And it worked. Just like that. So it wasn't our boat but a bunch of power points that were broken. Next we went to get tokens to do our washing and . . . the washing machine was broken. And the free wi-fi? That didn't work either.
Power point in Dinant
The story continues - here.
And for a different take on this trip, from the captain's perspective, click on - this link.