Feeling guilty doing it by truck
27.05.2017 - 27.05.2017 25 °C
Day 3 Saturday May 27 2017
Xonrupt-Longemer to Landsberg am Lech 517 km
- What bliss to be woken by an alarm set at a respectable time 7-45 a.m. It means AG and SG have had a long overdue & untinterrupted sleep. With house sale, trip planning and other 'stuff', it's been a while.
- Its another gorgeous day. We really are being spoilt here in Northern Europe. But within just over a week we'll be in Turkey, so it's good acclimatisation.
- We continue our meanderings on minor roads through the forested hills of the Vosges in Alsace, heading mainly SE. We climb lots of cols ( high spots).
- It is only 10 a.m. but there is already a hive of outdoor activity: cyclists, pony trekkers, walkers, motorcyclists are out and about in impressive numbers. This region offers lots of beautiful curves for motorcyclists to navigate and a tough day's riding in the saddle or walking by foot.
- We follow a scenic detour called Route des Cretes. We soon have the feeling of being at the top of the world, the Alsace world at least. The fine weather means the views are outstanding and the wind non existent.
- We reach the highest point of our journey - Col du Grand Ballon, altitude 1424m. It is the summit of the Vosges area. Guide books warn of adverse weather and strong winds. They do not however mention the swarms of midges that we encounter as soon as we stop the truck for the obligatory summit photo. The air is thick with them & It's not a pleasant experience. It also deters us Sent from my iPad
- Outside a shop selling local honey ( many different pollen types with presumably unique flavours ) there is a rudimentary collection of apiary tools & equipment. SG momentarily mistakes it for an anti midge suit rather than bee protection gear. Marketed differently they might even sell a few of those netted hats at this time of year.
- The road' summit is a popular gathering point for those who have just made some substantial effort to get here. The cafe is full of cyclists, hikers and motorcyclists alike. We feel guilty having expended no energy, used no muscle power but rather arrived sat comfortably in our Landcruiser truck.
- But we would be kidding ourselves not to realise that our truck trip does require a form of both endurance & stamina - to cope with: long & consecutive days of driving in hot climates, a massive agenda of sightseeing, 9 weeks in each other's company and in confined space, a different bed and bathroom almost every night and lastly but not least uncertain & unfamiliar nutrition. Yes we need to be fit physically & mentally for our journey ahead.
- As we descend from the summit towards the pretty vineyard village of Uffholz we pass by the Hartmanswillerkopf War Memorial (HWK). It's sometimes easy to overlook that there was significant World War 1 hostility that involved no British soldiers and which are not therefore a primary point of military pilgrimage for Brits. This site of fierce trench warfare between 1915-6 in particular is also known as Vieil Armand. 30000 French & German soldiers died here, with another 30000 being wounded or taken prisoner.
- In 1921 it was declared an historic monument. Bodies from other nearby battlefields and temporary war graves were exhumed and brought here. There are 12000 bodies of unknown soldiers also laid to rest in the crypt here. Imagine such a number. There are 3 chapels on site - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. The HWK is located in an area that back in 1915 had been annexed by Germany since 1871.
- Not surprisingly HWK has been dedicated to Franco German friendship and there are new (EU sponsored) facilities being built. It is busy with visitors, both French & German. If you are passing it is worth a quick stop.
- The rest of our journey to Landsberg am Lech is on motorway. Just after Mulhouse, thanks to the Schengen Zone, we pass imperceptibly into Germany and cross the mighty Rhine - Germany's main river artery.
- Almost counter intuitively we are first heading NE again towards Strasbourg before continuing East from Karlsruhe along the A8 direction Munich. We are impressed with the road infrastructure, both current and being built. We pass by countless zones of light industry & warehousing. But nicely so, interspersed with long stretches of woodland and farms. It is a prosperous part of the world. No wonder Germany is the powerhouse of the EU.
- Traffic is heavy but flowing. The Germans are escaping for the weekend too. It has been difficult to find accommodation for this evening - most Gasthaüser stipulated a minimum of a 2 night stay. However we are most definitely on the move and do not wish to linger. We have also booked tonight's restaurant, Nonnenbraü - we have been allocated the 8 p.m sitting. No choice was given. They must be busy.
- We decide to walk to and for our supper. It's important to get some exercise whenever we can. AG navigates the way on maps.me ( a great navigational app for your mobile that uses GPS and is FREE! ). A 40 minute walk is indicated since our hotel is on the outskirts of new suburbs whilst our chosen restaurant is on the other side of the Old Town.
- Nestled beside the River Lech it is a very attractive place indeed. It's a fine, balmy evening, riverside cafes and bistros are buzzing with people relaxing at the start of the weekend.
- We find the Nonnenbraü at the top of a steep hill. The garden is full, the nicely decorated interior empty. Fortunately we have reserved a table and we too dine outdoors. Why wouldn't you after so many months of winter.
- As already mentioned it is asparagus season and in this part of the world they seem to revere the rather insipid looking white variety. There is a special asparagus menu which SG samples - asparagus soup ( creamy white colour) with toasted almonds, followed by grilled fish with more asparagus ( also white ). AG chooses soup as well and then gets stuck into some burger or other. Even he is not sure what kind. We drink a red Austrian wine, recommended by the restaurant owner. He seems to take pride in his wine cellar and nowadays rates Austrian wines. The wine is a mixture of Syrah, Cabernet & Merlot grapes and is very palatable.
- We opt to walk back to our hotel. Dusk is merging into night. We don't have a torch so we stick to the main roads. In Germany street lights remain switched on and pedestrian crossings are well illuminated. ( SG is having an ongoing 'dialogue' with Bucks County Council - they switch off street lights to save money. And a zebra crossing on the very busy A404 has had a non functioning pedestrian light since before Christmas ).
- Did SG mention that we have changed hotel rooms? It seems the norm that we are allocated rooms on the noisy side. Maybe it's the booking.com price we pay? Despite specifically requesting a quiet, calm location even at the expense of a view. Frankly we'd rather face a brick wall than be kept awake by traffic. From now on SG must get into routine of first checking rooms before unloading luggage. At Landhotel Erdhart we have to pay an additional 16 euros for peace & quiet.