Sunday, June 30, 2013
The weather has cleared so I rode to the station and bought a 4,20 euro one way. The train took about 15 minutes, and started my bride about 10:30am.
Forested hills above the vineyards above town and a wheatfield sprinkled with poppies, couldn't be lovelier.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Today I will walk around central Strasbourg and see the tourist sites. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny again. I hope so, as I'd like to do another ride, either back for more vineyards or along the Rhine.
This stall is selling small rose posies for 3,50 Euros.
But it's been postponed until Sunday evening due to crappy weather.
So, on Saturday night at 7pm I'm sitting on a park bench on the German side of he Rhine listening to a Germsn band play things like Achy Breaky Heart and Ring of Fire.
I plan to buy a crepe from a booth if it looks good, then walk back over the bridge to France, and have an early night at my hostel.
I hope the weather is clear on Sunday as i still want to go out on the bike again.
Turns out it's a Fraicheur of local cherries served over fromage blanc mousseline and rhubarb. It's served in a confiture jar and it's great.
After past the restaurant without noticing it because it offers no terrace seating, you struggle to understand the restaurant owner who speaks Alsacian as her first language and you are presented with a blackboard menu that you can nearly read, like this one. You ask the waitress the basics "Cochon?" (Pork?) "Poisson? (Fish?) as you point at things on the menu, but the answer is so fast you really don't know for sure what you're about to order. Still, you go for it. How bad can it be?
You also order a glass of wine from the Vins d'Alsace.
Then you sit back, watching the people at the other 11 tables in the small room finishing off something that looks good.
Friday, June 28, 2013
I like the comforter hanging outbox the upper floor window for a good airing out.
Did I say it yet? I love France!
It was exactly as advertised.
No wonder the French have a generally sunny disposition.
Tried the local Pinot noir too.
Oh la la.
Had it all: green meadows, white cows, ponies, geese in the canal, half timbered houses, and a steepled church that chimed every 15 minutes.
And on the way I'd passed ducks, swans, storks and a beaver.
Utterly amazing luck, and the weather held!
The TI gave me a free copy of a map called "Veloroutes d'Alsace" that is displayed in the office window at Cathedral square.
This large overview of Eurovelo Routes 5 (Liasion Vignoble - Rhin), 6 (Canal du Rhone-au-Rhin) and 15 (Rhin), which basically hook into routes from London to Brindisi, the Atlantic to the Black Sea and Rotterdam to Andermatt in Switzrland, then to Budapest, is actually quite helpful.
Now not all parts of the various Eurovelo routes are this exquisite, but this trail reminds me of the Loire a velo i did in 2010.
Paved all the way, separated from the road, a canal path that been here since 1681.
It is a very old and distinctive town.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I've gotten my money's worth from my $455 monthlong German rail pass.
The weather is cool and gray, again, and I am feeling a little sad, again, like I always do when I have to leave a place I've gotten used to, and be faced again with uncertainty, the possibility of making a fool of myself, and all the typical and familiar issues of independent solo travel.
One would think I'd be used to this by now. The truth is, one would be mistaken.
Time to start channeling Maria Von Trapp, and start whistling a happy tune.
It will work out. It usually does.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Eastside Gallery
Ritter chocolate bars in flavors I've never seem before
The drunk guy in an elaborate blond wig, wearing a dirndl, and carrying a basket of plastic flowers in Munchen Hauptbahnhof, off to a football game with his equally drunk friends
The Blue Danube Waltz performed by bats at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
The tunnel under the Elbe in Hamburg
Lederhosen on a guy that actually looked good
The shrine of the 3 Wise Men in Cologne
The surfers on the Izar
The monster cuckoo clock in the Badische Kuche restaurant
Apple strudel mit sahne
Die Hochzeit der Figaro in Berlin
Maypoles in Bavaria
Roses in Baden Baden
Gargoyles in Freiburg
Flower boxes everywhere
The navy blue uniform and tomato red cap of DB employees
The ICE train
Bikes absolutely everywhere
It's been fun.
Baden Baden, about my plans to go to France tomorrow. Apparently I can use my DB rail pass and pay only for the bit when I cross the border into France.
As today was a "make it up as I go along" day, I spent a good hour in Basel's Bider & Tanner bookshop ogling the entire top floor devoted to"Reisen" books. I guess I must be German at heart, because that is what I like to do.
Beginning tomorrow I'll be to slip into my terrible French, where I still feel a little more at home than my atrocious command of German.
I automatically reached for the Michelin maps and guides in the "Frankreich" section. This is a nice one, but not useful for my next week. Only reaches into close-in parts of the Loire, and I rode there 3 years ago, so know how to do it without a book.
Depending on the weather, I will pick up the appropriate scale Michelin map at a papeterie in Strasbourg tomorrow, and create my own "balades" by bike. "Balade" is my favourite French word, meaning "toodle along on your bike" which is my only plan for Alsace and Borgogne.
Still it's an ad from STA, a hoary old leftover from my days of "student travel" in the 1970s.
We Americans have fantasies about Bavaria, Germans repay bus in kind with fantasies about how easy it is to do this sort of trip in a week or less, including that visit to the Big Apple.
I had a good laugh when comparing the total pages for mastering Australian slang in these 2 books as 250 pages, whereas to master North American slang you need only 208 pages, at least according to this imprint.
I also had to roll my eyes at the double meaning of the billboard attached to that Australian bus that graces the cover of "Englisch fur Australien"
I've had several fellow travellers in Australia speak to me with sheer relief when I tell them that, while a native-borne Australian, I speak clear "English teacher English", saving the local dialect only for conversations with old friends from high school and my close family. But 250 words would have been inadequate when translating conversations with my late father. He spoke Australian English so fluently, a Welshman or Breton would have modded in approval.
These books, from Reise Know-How, from Bielefeld, have a ready market in the hundreds of recent German college grads who dream of working in marketing on the Gold Coast while perfecting their surfing technique, and end up working as a housekeeper in a pub a thousand kilometers inland from Tom Price or the Pilbara in Western Australia.
But that's the nature of armchair travel books isn't it?
I'm familiar with the one about riding in New Zealand. I think it's copyrighted 2001, and believe me, I know Nigel Rushton, the actual author of the text and maps in this translation, keeps his self published work: Pedaller's Paradise much more up to date than this one.
But cycling New Zealand is on every German's bucket list as is a hike on Jakobsweg to Santiago in the Pyrenees, for which I have seen hundreds of titles this summer during wandering in Germany.
This map is from a book catalog I picked up at Bider & Tanner, a monster bookstore in Basel.
For a cyclist riding the whole of Germany, these books are too much, but it shows how much Germans think they want to ride on their bikes during their summer vacation.
I haven't found the TI yet, but did spend an age in a lively bookstore with its entire upper level devoted to travel books. Now I will look for a lively cafe where I can hang out until time to go back to Baden Baden. Tomorrow I an to go to Strasbourg. As the weather isn't great, I'm thinking of skipping going to ride at Verdun. Instead, I think I'm gonna go wine touring. After whites in Alsace, I might go instead to Dijon and take a look at Burgundy. I think the weather will be better away from this part of Europe.
Subtlety wasn't a medieval virtue obviously.