Beginning of the Rhine.

Here we are at the end of our shortest week after a few days on one of Europe's biggest rivers. And it is big. This new river is wide and well used, a busy river where the jet skiers and motor boats only stop to let giant tankers past. But we're getting used to the waves and are in little danger with a month and a half's canoeing experience under our belts.

This big river also has 'PK markers' which tell us exactly what distance along the river we are to the hundred meter. So yesterday morning Nathan could do his running session with total precision and we could start planning days knowing exactly what distances we'd hit.

What we hit were a few wiers with signs alongside that marked nice walkways with launching spots for the canoe. No more pondering where to go and no more clambering on all fours. You could say it's simple German efficiency. The walkways are quite long, so we still have a little canoe hauling to do, but the ease makes up for its distance.

Yesterday was also broken up with a wander through Rhinau, on the French side of the river, where we chatted to the tourist information woman in a confusing mix of French, German and English. We walked through town and topped up on necessities. And I filled up water in a building I remain unsure about. Outside I thought it was a boat club, inside I thought it was a house. I called out a few "bonjour?"s and then filled up water in the kitchen where bowls and food still sat on the table. I left the house again through the front hall with no one spotting me and none the wiser as to what the building was.

Having set up camp by a jet skiing spot, we awoke this morning to whispers outside the tent. This was the grand arrival of our 'support car' in the form of my mum, sister, girlfriend and friend. They bring new dry bags, as the old ones have been battered, torn and over worn from all their lifting on the canals, and two new seats, as Dora's wicker seats are starting to fail under the new muscular weight of us two canoeists. They also bring a little food stuff and some new books to read.

After the days paddling, which was the remaining 16km to Kehl (next to Strasbourg) we set up camp for our rest day tomorrow. The paddle was fairly short and uneventful but for the groups of swans unfussed by our presence and the two weirs we had to pass. Now we're enjoying new company and a rest day tomorrow.

The week started stressed and ominous but really we find ourselves in decent canoeing terrain and, with Strasbourg so close, the chance for a shorter week than usual. A day here tomorrow to see the big city, then back on the river Rhine.