So, with the flight leaving late, we landed late. But SAA as usual were on the ball. We went through passport control and collected our luggage and then went to the SAA check in desk where we were given boarding passes for the next flight. We made it on time and landed safe and sound in Cape Town. Kenny collected all of us from the airport and we came back to the office to see what was going on, and then went home to shower, unpack and unwind. We were in bed shortly after 8! An interesting holiday with highs and lows.
Woke up and started packing before heading out. We had a croissant and an espresso before getting on to the Metro. We walked to the Eiffel Tower which is amazing to say the least. After that we got back on the metro. Dave got off at Franklin D Roosevelt but I got stuck amongst people getting on! I went to the next stop, changed over trains and went back to Dave. We then went to the Maille boutique shop and tasted mustards before choosing 3 we cannot get at home. They were packed for us for travel! We went back to the hotel and got ready for our flight. We caught a taxi to CDG and waited for our delayed Lufthansa flight to Munich. When we got here I showered in the business class lounge and changed. We went through passport control and left Del and Annie sitting at the departure gate while we went for something to eat. We bought some whisky at duty free and then sat down to let Del and Annie have a walk around. This carried on until we boarded the flight. The staff came on duty and I was first in the queue to get our new boarding passes as Dave had managed to change our seats. We were offered €600 each to stay the night in Munich, as well as accommodation in a 4 star hotel, with dinner and breakfast included. Del and I would have jumped at the opportunity, but Annie was ready to get home. As far as I could tell, the 7 volunteers caught the flight, so it would not have happened in any case. But, it would have been nice. The flight left late and we had a really good meal, before pretending to sleep – there was a screaming baby on the flight. The father admitted to the child not being a good flier which made me want to ask why they did not give the child something to calm down and sleep?
Woke up and went for breakfast with Nico, Wanette, Annie and Del. As we got back to the room Dino called from Air France to say our flight had been cancelled. He rerouted us via Munich so that was all sorted. It means leaving Paris earlier but at least we will get home. We then walked to Sacre Cœur which is amazing and then through Montemarte. We had coffee near the Moulin Rouge and then walked to Trinité. We went back to Opera and then for coffee at Le Mesturet to see the menu. We walked to the Louvre and along the Seine to Notre Dame. Dave had a crepe with citron sucre and I had a chocolat et ses morceaux ice cream. We walked to Place de Grève and Hôtel de Ville and then through the Marais district to Les Halles. We had lunch at La Perla on Rue Montorgueil. We each had a salad and a glass of wine. We walked back to the Louvre and then through Jardin des Tusleries to Place de la Concorde. We walked down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. We then caught the metro back to where we are staying. After relaxing a bit (we walked for 6 hours) we went to Le Royal Bergère for drinks. Annie had a Heineken, Dave had a Stella Artois and Del and I had Bretagne Cider. We walked to Le Mesturet for supper and then walked back via the ice cream place to enjoy an ice cream for dessert. Dave had the pistachio, Annie and Del had caramel and chocolat and I had noisette and tiramisù.
Woke up and packed and then walked to the Avis office to see if the car was still there as I had left something in it. Sadly the car was in Rennes and who ever cleaned the car found nothing. We then went to the boulangerie and had piping hot croissants for breakfast. We had an espresso each and walked to the train station. The train to Paris was non stop and we arrived at Gare de Lyon at 12. Dave got a map of the metro and Paris and we went to buy a day pass for the public transport. With that done we went to find the A line. Dave had left the map at the SNCF office so we got out at Aubert where the Opera is, and walked around a bit. Finally an hotel provided us with a map and pointed us in the direction of the Air France office. This was closed! We then walked to our hotel and checked in. We had baguette, ham and cheese for lunch in the room before heading to Maillot to the Air France office there. I got to see the Arc de Triomphe and we found Air France. The queue was at least an hour long. After a quick walk through an upmarket supermarket we came back to the hotel. I spent half an hour on the phone before discovering our flight is not yet cancelled. Despite the pilots strike continuing until the 30th. Until it is we cannot change our flight, which is confirmed. We then relaxed for a bit – me in the bath before getting dressed for the Crazy Horse. Saw the Eiffel Tower from the road. We arrived early so had a glass of Montepulciano wine each before going to see the show. It was OK but nothing to rave about. We then went for supper at a local seafood restaurant. Dave had whiting and I had mussels. We left everyone there and came back to the hotel. Dave’s metro card did not work properly so he entered on my card, and I entered on another persons card. She was not happy but they gave her another ticket. We got back and just as I was about to turn off the light and go to sleep Nico banged on the door and invited us for a drink. We went across the road and had a cider for some and white wine for others. It was after midnight when we got back to the hotel and the noise does not stop where we are!
I woke up with an upset stomach. I broke my golden rule of travelling and had some tap water. Thankfully by the time we were showered, packed, eaten breakfast and ready to go I was feeling better. We were offered a very good continental breakfast and I had honey with the most interesting flavour. We went to Corbigny and walked through the street market. Saw amazing mushrooms and bought some strawberries. Then headed to Leboat to see about doing the canal Nivernais next year. We stopped at a series of locks (16 in a row!) and looked at where the canal goes through the tunnels. We drove into Châtillon-en-Bazois and had lunch at the side of the canal. We shared a bench with 2 French workers. The one offered us his wine to have with lunch. To them drinking at lunch time, while on a work break is normal. We then drove to Decize and walked around before heading back to Nevers. We handed the car back and checked into the Best Western Hotel. We went to the train station and changed our tickets to an earlier time and then went and had 2 Paulaner beers where we had supper the first night. We relaxed for a bit at the hotel before going to Tomate et Chocalat for dinner.
Woke up, showered and went for an express breakfast – one croissant, one coffee and one glass of juice. Checked out – the bill came to €119.7. Which meant not having a kettle was 24 centime cheaper. We collected a hire car – Renault Clio from Avis at 10am. We did a quick shop at Carrefour for lunch and then headed on the D978 to start our drive. We stopped at Chatilon de Bazois alongside the canal Nivernais which will probably be our April destination. An espresso and croissant was our mid morning snack. We had a picnic lunch on the side of the road just after Château-Chinon. We then drove to Volnay and stopped at Domaine François Mure and Fils for a wine tasting and bought a bottle to bring home. They have the tiniest bottling plant in their cellar. We stopped in Beaune where Greg is from and walked around the old city and had an espresso. We then drove through Dijon on the Rue de Transvaal and through the Parc Regional du Morten. We stopped at a Logis hotel in Corbigny but they and all the other hotels are fully booked. They called the Hôtel de la Poste and organized a room for us. We had dinner at the hotel. We started with a large tot of Obanand a plate of snacks. We were served an amuse of gezpacho and guacamole. . I had the terrine de lapin to start which was very tasty. But it had an average salad. My main course was coq au pinot noir which was served with an amazing smooth pumpkin puree and good haricot vert. I chose 3 cheeses off the vast plateau de fromages bourguignons et nivernais. Dave had the croustillant d’Espoisses to start whcih had a thick creamy cheese inside pastry. He had the bavette à l’échalote done bleau. Dave had the nougat glacé to end with a lot of caramel beurre salé. We had a serious glass of Cointreau to end the night before heading for bed.
Woke up feeling totally deflated and utterly exhausted. This holiday has been ruined for so many people because one person ignored their boss! Did not realise how much stress this has been but I have certainly felt apprehensive and anxious since we found out at the rugby about the second barge. I have had an outbreak of eczema. Dave spent the morning trying to hire a car and book us a self catering place to stay. There were no cars available so we decided to see if we could find a place to stay in Paris but that too was not a possibility. We showered and dressed, had an express breakfast and walked to the station. Avis have a car from tomorrow so we will explore the region for 2 days. We have booked a train back to Paris on Saturday. We would prefer self catering so that we can cook. Not only is it cheaper, it is much nicer. We walked around Nevers, had an espresso break and had a baguette with chicken in it for lunch, and an ice cream for dessert. I had chocoláte noisette and Dave had caramel. We walked back to the hotel and I read a bit and dozed. We are in a smaller room with no kettle! We bought water and coffee at a small shop but that was not going to help much. We were given a jug of barely boiled water and cups but no teaspoon. Not the best coffee I have had! Dave was online and saw that Air France strike is due to continue till the 30th. I have sent an email requesting specific flights so let’s see what happens this time. We left the hotel and finally I felt like I was on holiday. I realized I was doing so much on the barge to be in control of what I could control. But that did not help! Cooking is my bliss. On our walk through the old city we stopped at La Pause for beers. Fischer for me and Pelforth Ambree for Dave. We had a long chat about everything and then walked to St-Sébastien for supper. We had a lovely meal and an excellent bottle of wine before walking back to the hotel.