Saturday, October 26, 2013


It's fall and in this corner of Germany it shows.  The colors are fantastic and rival those in New England. From Hansjorg and Silke's back balcony one looks out on the hills that surround their small town.  The hills are bathed in the colors of fall.  Of course the best way to experience this time of the year is to take a hike in the woods.

With Hansjorg in the lead, since he professes to know where he is going, we set off on an uphill climb through the trees.  I can't stop taking pictures of the vivid colors that surround us.  The pathways are littered with the fallen leaves, so thick in places it is like walking on a soft cushion.

I have never been on a hike with Hansjorg where he didn't change our route multiple times along the way.  I think it's just his nature to "see what's down that path", as he consults his map frequently, changing directions on a whim.  Perhaps he's just lost, but we do manage to end up at a guest house along the trail, so all is well.. Of course he has many trails to choose from in the Black Forest.

The next day we headed off to the wine growing region in Alsace, France for some history about WW I. Hartmannsweilerkoph  is a rocky peak in the Vosges Mountains standing 3,100 feet above the Rhine Valley. From 1914 till 1918 the French and Germans battled it out from their respective trenches on this mountain top.   Through the course of the war, thirty thousand deaths were reported here with a majority of these among the French.  After about 18 months of fierce combat, both sides began to focus most of their attention on the western front farther north. Only enough men to hold the lines were left at Hartmannswillerkopf, and they remained relatively stable for the remainder of the war, generally only artillery exchanges taking place.

Today, the area is a French national monument. There is a museum and a cemetery at the site, and it is also possible to explore the extensive trench system. Because the lines were static for such a long period, the trenches are very well preserved, especially on the German side of the mountain.  You can still see many of the trenches and craters made by the extensive shelling.



We drove back down the mountain and along the Route du Vin to the village of Equisheim. Equisheim is a medieval walled town surrounded by the vineyards of Alsace. Many of the buildings in the town date back to the 1200's and are constructed in the timber frame style.

A traditional dish in Alsace is the Tarte Flambee, so of course we had to give it a try. Made with a very thin pizza like crust, it is covered in sour cream, onion, cheese and small pieces of bacon.  I  heard it was really good and in my haste to try it, I took a bite before I snapped a picture.

Another great day spent with Hansjorg and Silke topped off with a German style "cook it yourself" dinner. With a heated broiler type thingie on the table and little cooking trays, you choose your ingredients from different cheeses, different kinds of meat, onions and mushrooms, then cook your own.  Put the finished product on potatoes and eat.   Along with salad, a great meal with good friends.

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