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Kayaking unites kindred spirits

January 14, 2005

Martha Marino

PART 4: BEAUTY AND ROMANCE

Day 6 to 8: Saverne and Luzelbourg

When the rain finally stopped in the late afternoon, I crawled out

of my tent and coasted down the hill to have a look at Saverne.

Before sightseeing, I located a small bike shop to have my loose

handlebars repaired. The mechanic had no trouble finding the problem.

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"Whoever assembled this bike," he said, "didn't know what they were

doing. They put the washer up side down and damaged it." I knew, of

course, whom he meant. Darn details! They always get in my way.

After this ego-deflating incident -- somehow, I had the illusion

that I was mechanically gifted -- I headed for the center of Saverne,

an attractive Medieval, Renaissance town with a slight German flavor,

being near the border.

First I visited the 12th century, brick church with a Roman bell

tower. Then I wandered down the pedestrian-only Grand Rue past quaint

buildings with gables and pointed roofs, all festively decorated with

window boxes of pink and red Geraniums Along the way, I stopped at

the Katz Tavern. It was well known for its ornately sculptured facade

of dark, wooden beams and its comical-looking, six-foot, tin statue

of a cat, standing in the patio -- wearing a top hat, of all things.

This cat was in honor of the original owner; Henri Katz (katz means

"cat" in German) who lived here in 1605 while receiver general for

the bishop.

Later, I walked to the canal to gaze upon the imposing, red

sandstone castle with extensive flower gardens that faced the shore.

In 1790 the rich, privileged Bishop of Strasbourg lived here as his

second residence; today it's a museum and youth hostel.

For three days, I hung around Saverne, before "hitting" the

towpath again. My ride through the valley of the Vosges Mountains was

exquisite. In the village of a Luzelbourg, snuggled between forested

foothills, I stopped to take some photos, then continued on to the

campground, three miles away. As soon as I pitched my tent, I pedaled

up the hill to Arzviller to see the famous

"barge-transverse-elevator." Built in 1969, it joined two, different

canal-levels and replaced 17 locks, that used to take 12 hours to

pass through.

At the top canal, I bought a ticket for the tourist boat that

descended on the barge-elevator to the lower canal. When we were all

aboard, our boat entered an adjacent, barge-size tank filled with

water. Then, after they closed the heavy, metal lock-doors and our

boat was floating in a bathtub of water, we descended, facing

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