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Published: September 16th 2008
Sunday 14th - Tuesday 16th September
OK slightly lazy combining 3 days into one page, but I have gotten behind and in any case all the days based in Strasbourg and its environs would not have warranted 3 entries.
What a stunning city, straight out of a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Impossibly beautiful half timbered houses, tottering across narrowed cobbled streets, whilst glances skyward would reveal the similarly impressive Cathedral. If God created Norway as an exemplar of natural beauty then he must have had an assistant directorship when they constructed this city in the middle ages. Possibly the most beautiful city I have been too. And full of restaurants serving Baeckeoffe (like a Lancashire hotpot but with pork and in some cases lamb and beef as well) and Jambonneau (a simply enormous knuckle of braised ham.) Superb,
Sunday was a lazy day exploring the city. It had stopped raining and was bright, although pretty cool at 12° - a pattern the weather would adopt for all three days. As may have been apparent from my lack of interest in the Flam railway I really cannot stand touristed attractions. City tour buses, daft little trains that aren't
trains and anything where there is an incessant commentary I detest. So it was to my own amazment that Wendy managed to persuade me to go on a boat trip round the city. If you come here - DON'T DO IT. Walk instead or hire a push bike, as we did today. For starters the thing is shaped like a bl**dy tube train and just as sardine like - why anyone who commutes in and out of London would choose to go on one of these was beyond me. As Wendy selected language 263 off the tape, which of course was English, I refused to don the headphones and sulked and generally played up the whole trip.
Monday was for me the best day of the lot. Leaving Strasbourg we elected to follow the Alsace wine route. Mostly the D35 that winds its way through 170km of vineyards and wine producing villages from Marlenheim to Thann. We decided to start in Molsheim and continued through the region down to Mittelwihr. A stunning ride, or drive, every village was picture book perfect and the handful of photos shown here could have been taken in anyone of 20 or 30 of
them. My personal favourite was Barr where we also went off piste up some track that climbed the vineyard trail overlooking the city. Bergheim was another favourite - just off the road. As for many villages it was a fortified city with towers at its entrance and exit. Ribeauville, home to Trimbach, was similarly beautiful and of scale but it was buzzing with tourists and the less attractive for it.
Having lunched at an excellent Auberge we later stopped at the residence of Engel to peruse the wine for sale. Although we had a good lunch it would be fantastic to lunch at, or ideally stay at one of these vineyards. If I came again that is definitely what I would do. It would be a great bike trip down here, that you could easily do in a long weekend.
No wonder the Germans had their paws on and off this area for centuries - it was an incredible stretch of breathtaking villages set against the panorama of the rolling hills of the Vosges mountains and the vineyards dotted around them. They had left their mark though, the food was more Germanic than French - as were the
women serving it!
Anyway Wen has left for the airport so tonight I am catching up on stuff and more importantly planning the next stages of the trip. My general direction is the Austrian border but first I will meander through the Black Forest. Tomorrow I may only go as far as Titisee - a place by a lake that I remembered from my childhood. I may even get the tent out again, but it could do with warming up a bit.
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