Our Barge, Odysseus

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mettlach and the Saarschleife - August 18, 19

Our next stop was the town of Mettlach, for the last 200 years the headquarter of the ceramics firm Villeroy & Boch. Their offices are in a former Benedictine abbey that also houses a museum and display of the company's products. Mettlach also has several outlet stores; we could have bought clothing from Lands End but we controlled ourselves. Why we were really here was the Saarschleife, where the river completes a hairpin, 180 degree turn.
Just past town is a lock and just through the lock is a very nice pontoon with plenty of room for several boats. We staked out a spot and waited for the rain to stop so we could do a little exploring. A very nice bike path runs along both sides of the river from the Mettlach lock, around the "buckle" and on to a bridge at Dreisbach, just about 10 kilometers up the river. When the weather cleared a little, we hoisted the bikes off the boat and set off for the "Cloef," a spot up the hill where you can get a good view of the river. Parking our bikes and the foot of the trail, we headed up, with a couple of stops on the way to wait out showers, until we reached the viewpoint.

Mettlach is around the bend to the left, Driesbach to the right.

There is a diagram in one of the tourist brochures that shows how a 190 meter barge going one way and an 80 meter barge going the other can pass here but we weren't fortunate enough to ever see that maneuver.
We were pretty soaked by the time we returned to the boat but Thursday turned out pretty good so we left the pontoon and headed for the tieup in Driesbach.

That's the exit from the lock at the right.

While we were rounding the corner, we noticed a little niche cut into the wall at the very apex of the turn. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of bargemen and this seemed an appropriate spot for a shrine.

After an exhausting 1 hour and a little over 7k, we tied up at a very long wharf designed for commercial boats. Since we only took up a little bit at the very end, we didn't figure it would matter. We unlimbered the bikes again and made a complete circuit of the buckle, this time in the sun, stopping just long enough for one of those refreshing German beers on the way back.
The next morning we were off again up the river.

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