Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Festival de 2 Rives in the park next to the hostel

Yes the Strasbourg Philharmonic is playing. I lasted about an hour sitting on the lawn, but got surrounded by blankets and kids, so left. Fireworks at 9:30pm and I imagine I can see from anywhere.

Riding back to Molstein

Rode back and took a train around 5pm from where I started this morning. Went out on the vineyard bike trail and back on the Alsace wine route. Maybe 25km or so. Roads a bit busy and a few impatient drivers. Different from the 100% respect I got on the roads of Normandy and Brittany 3 years ago. I wonder what has changed, if anything. Didn't pay a lot of attention to license plates but I suspect the French are more cyclist aware than the Germans here. Would reflect the experience I had in Germany as a cyclist. OK if I'm in the bike lane but aggressive when sharing a road. Hmmm.

A public well and horse trough in Boersch

Looks like the monastery built a lot of the town infrastructure.

Entering Boersch

Great downhill over cobblestones and into yet another medieval town that somehow escaped destruction in WW2.

The aforementioned abbey seen from the road

You get the idea that a heck of a lot has happened in this neck of the woods since the Romans were here. A lot of war for sure.

A Explanation of an extraordinary looking compound in Boersch St Leonard's

You'd miss this if you only stuck to the signed vineyard bike route. You don't have to ride the narrow roads in traffic, but you'd miss a lot of what makes this area interesting.

Another Alsacian Souvenir

Apparently the national dress here involves large black satin bows to go along with your apron and clogs.

Cigogne souvenirs in Obernai

A species of stork that infests Strasbourg and its environs.

All places reachable by bike

Crazy weather hanging around

Sort of matches the church in many ways. Humid and high glare too, another summer day here in Alsace in guess.

The pillar in context

Carvings by a medieval master with a sense of humor

This single pillar inside has a ring on monks faces, each one with a different expression, carved as the finial (?). It's such a lovely unexpected thing to see, after so much ugly and violent religious art, hard to make out in the dark interiors of the typical German style cathedral.

C12th Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Rosheim's lovely Romanesque church, so much nicer than the many Gothic monsters you usually see.

William has company

Would be nice to have this place as your Sunday pit stop.

William admires the local patisserie

An extraordinary name for the local cycle store

A stormy Sunday but plenty of cyclists out

Rosheim is a large town of half timbered houses and a gate at the entrance to town. There was a huge amount of traffic. Looks like today there's some sort of Lego festival, so people are trying to park in impossibly narrow lanes and load onto a shuttle bus to go to the show. I spent a bit of time dodging cars and riding over cobbles.

The Ville Fleurie sign

Something nice coming up.

Outside Molsheim for another look at the veloroute du vignoble

Took a train from Strasbourg out to Molstein, where I'd finished my ride on the canal de la Bruche two days earlier.
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

Saturday in Strasbourg

As forecast, the rain is back. I finally left the hostel at 11am. The rain is supposed to ease in the afternoon. Spent some time in the Saturday market. I bought a small mushroom quiche with black trumpets and another wild mushroom for 2,70 and 500g of local cherries for 2,50. Then had a 2nd breakfast at cafe in the Place of the old market for suckling pigs (literal translation), trying and failing to connect to their free wifi network. That's a common experience with wifi networks, they often act in strange ways or not at all.
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.

Passarelle Deux Rives over the Rhine

There's supposed to be a free symphony concert and fireworks tonight as the signature event of something called Fete sur le Rhin, a French/German party for the 50th anniversary of the treaty of the Élysées and the 20th anniversary of some trams frontier institutions, I guess EU stuff.
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.

Maison Kammerzell and the Strasbourg Cathedral

A C16th cheese merchants house built on a C15th arcade. Lots of detailed carving on the timber framing.

When the rain finally stops

At 2:30pm when they finally shoo you out of the restaurant you go window shopping. This is a Foie Gras shop. Not something you see every day.

Dessert at Table De Christoph

Because by now you've realised you're eating lunch in a Michelin Red Guide restaurant, (after you take a breather from licking the last of the fish off your plate, you finally notice the red sticker in the window, you order dessert. You still can't read the blackboard, so you ask the waitress for the creamy white thing everyone else had.
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.

The Poisson

Some thick cod like fish oven baked with a toasted almond and chervil crust, over braised fennel and the most delicious quinoa ever, with an emulsion of cream.

The Cochon dish

Yes, it's Head Cheese, but it's the most refined version imaginable, served with thinly sliced beets and gherkins, served on bitter greens, with some diet of creamy dressing, and a little fish of sauerkraut on the side.

What do you do on another rainy day in Strasbourg

Well, first you go to the TI and use your smartphone to photograph the entries out of the Michelin Green Guide for restaurants. Then you use your battered map of Strasbourg to find one that was listed as "middle price".
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

In Molsheim

Lots of gorgeously painted buildings with carved timber framing in this town too. Surrounding it are lovely spring green vineyards, as this is a town on the Alsace Wine Tour Route, which has been promoted for the last 60 years apparently.
I like the comforter hanging outbox the upper floor window for a good airing out.

The Giant Strawberries of Alsace

Something seen on the bike trail between Dachstein and Molsheim.

Happy happy cyclist

Rain held off, flat paved trail in countryside, shared trail only with occasional jogge, cyclists and a woman leading her horse up the path, swans, medieval villages painted in candy colors, and a good lunch. Hey no wonder she's smiling.
Did I say it yet? I love France!

After lunch a visit to Dachstein

This one advertises itself as "un ville fleuri", 5km from my end point of Molsheim.

Lunch time

It's called Au Canal, it had about 6 cars parked out front, and it's at the junction with the road to Molsheim in Ergersheim, just up the trail from Ernolsheim-Bruche. It was offering its set lunch for 11,90 Euros.
It was exactly as advertised.
No wonder the French have a generally sunny disposition.
Tried the local Pinot noir too.
Oh la la.

A Fixer Upper

Not every lock keeper's place is worthy of House Beautiful, but I imagine someone plans to fix this one sometime.


Got to be in the top 10 of "prettiest villages in Alsace."
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!

Typical remodel of what was once a lock keeper's house

Ahh the cycle paths of Francehj

Alsace is really marketing itself as a cycle friendly area. "Alsacez-vous" is the cute slogan, where the letters "ce" are the pretzel-shaped breitz bread roll claimed all through Southern Germany as the signature dish.
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.

Veloroute du canal de la Bruche

Today dawned cool but dry, so my activity was a day of riding our of Strasbourg and into the Alsatian Wine Road of Molsheim. Supposedly about 32km from the Passarelle something footbridge, that connects to the Piste des Forts, a cross border route that goes near my hostel at the Jardin des Deux Rives. I picked up the tail by heading to the Cathedral, then following a variety of directions gleaned from 2009 Guide to Cycling France, and a free Strasbourg city cycling map that the TI gave me. I estimate it's 5km from the junction with the Passerelle footbridge back to the cathedral, and at least 5km from my hostel to the cathedral via the city cycle paths along the Route du Rhin, so today's jaunt will click at about 45km. I plan to take the SNCF train back to Strasbourg instead of doing a full out and back.

Strasbourg between rain storms

I arrive in a downpour and, after checking into my youth hostel, is a very long way from the center of town, got caught in another downpour. But the sun came out at about 6pm, and illuminated these lovely half-timbered houses along one of the branches of the river IFF that runs through town.
It is a very old and distinctive town.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Waiting at Baden Baden Train Station for the IRE 5315 to France

Cost me all of 2,40 Euros to get from here to Appenweiler, then change for a train to Strasbourg. Sort of the same price as taking the town bus!
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

Auf Wiesersehen Deutschland

Here are a few of my favourite things...
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
Gummi bears
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.

Vive la France!

I just checked with the nice woman in the Deutsche Bahn Travel Center here in n
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.

The Ultimate German Fantasy Trip

Amazing what you can do with a little Photoshop. There's been a little messing with the camera angle to miss a South Rim rock wall, and the zillions of tourists sharing this viewpoinr. If this gal was actually doing this, she'd be dead. If she survived the plunge to the Colorado River,she'd die of sunburn.
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.

Kauderwelsch Sprechfuhrer

I really don't know what the first word means, but I get that "Sprechfuhrer" means "master of speaking".
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.

Comparative Research

Because I visit Australia and New Zealand frequently, I'm well aware of the special place it holds in the German imagination.
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.

If you're a cyclist who leaves nothing to chance

Each red highlighted route corresponds to a spiral bound waterproof bike tour book (radtourenbucher) published by Bikeline, an imprint of Berlin-based Verlagesterbauer. Each one costs about 13,00 Euro and promises a detailed map, places to eat, to stay and must-see sights. They also publish hiking guides and a magazine called Trekkingbike.
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.

Wayfinding in Switzerland

I used my DB rail pass to do a day trip to Basel. Weather again isn't great back in Baden Baden.
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.

Pull the other leg

The local tourism authority claims this is the native dress of the Schwartzwalderinnen.
You have got to be joking. Red Pom poms if single, black if married. And I thought that lederhosen was a bit of an acquired taste.

Stained Glass Underwritten by the Bootmaker's Guild

A lovely example in the extremely dark gothic interior of the Freiburg cathedral.

Freiburg Cathedral wins in the Gargoyle Department

Gotta love this guy, hanging off the side of the church, right above most highly used side entrance, with a drain coming out of his backside.
Subtlety wasn't a medieval virtue obviously.

Just missed the wisteria

A street lined with antiquarian booksellers in Freiburg