My Travel Blog

We Are BACK In Europe! The New And Improved Rabelo

We’re back!  Lisa and I landed at 7:15 in the morning at Brussels Airport in Belgium.  Fortunately, as we had been visiting friends in Virginia, it was a relatively short flight.  Unfortunately I didn’t sleep at all.

We are excited to see our big baby.  We’ve made many changes to Rabelo over the winter, with the biggest being Julian.  He’s our new captain.  We also have a new kitchen and added an extra water tank.  When it comes to running out of water I’m the nervous type.   The extra 800 gallons our new tank holds will go a long ways to relieving some of my anxieties. The additional food I will no doubt consume from our new kitchen won’t relieve anything, but I will still enjoy it.

I’m back at the helm of Rabelo while Captain Julian checks out a lock.

A couple of curious cows along the canal.

Lisa’s new kitchen.

Despite our lack of sleep we spent the first day cleaning and straightening Rabelo.  We also paid a visit to our third home, Ikea, to buy pots and pans for the new induction cook-top.  After an eight-hour flight, and then working all day we were too tired to go out to dinner.  Fortunately Julian was very thoughtful, and had bought some groceries for our arrival.  Lisa made a simple pasta that night, and after doing the dishes and cleaning the new kitchen we went back to work straightening Rabelo.  We didn’t get to sleep until midnight.

Rabelo was moored in Gent, about a forty-five minute drive from Brussels, on a very busy canal next to a railroad track in the middle of a heavy industrial area.  Our original plan was to spend the first few days not in the industrial part of town, but tied up in the middle of what we had been told was a beautiful city.  We’ve read that Gent even rivals Brugge when it comes to history and architecture, but is not as touristy. Remember we are on a barge so flexibility is paramount.  After reviewing our charts and looking at all the options it made more sense to go to Brugge first and then return through Gent on our way to France.  That’s right we are going back to France. We had so much fun in Burgundy last year that we’ve decided to go back, but who knows?  We are on a barge and plans change.  There are two basic routes that we can take.  One goes through Champagne and the other through Paris.  it’s a tough decision, so we haven’t decided which route we will take just yet.

A beautiful horse farm along the canal to Brugge.

A WWII German bunker along the canal.

Entering Brugge.

Lisa and I were in Brugge twelve years ago on our last barge Tigre Rose.  I remember piloting her through one particularly narrow portion of the canal on the way to this beautiful medieval city.  I was rather proud that I didn’t have a problem.  On our second trip down this same canal on Rabelo I was amazed at how my perspective had changed. After spending so much time on the small French canals things look different. Even though Rabelo is much larger than Tigre Rose what I had thought was an unusually narrow canal proved to be even wider than many of the typical French canals we’ve traveled on.  In fact the canal was so large that barges nearly twice the size of Rabelotransit this waterway regularly.

Traffic waiting for Rabelo to pass at a draw bridge.

A replica of a medieval human powered crane.


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.