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Notre petite ballade en Alsace – part 1

1 (2)I don’t know what this is about men around fifty…

Evidentially there must be a correlation between their age or mood and doing bike tours… So with many men in my surrounding – including my husband.

Last year he started his bike career by crossing the Alpes and cycling to the Lake Major in Italy and this year he – though he didn’t train during the last months – ideally planned to cross the Black Forest…

But he changed his initial plans and asked me if I would join to do a little tour in Alsace. – Stupid me, I agreed…2

So last Saturday we started our tour under perfect weather conditions and plenty of power!

Our goal was to cycle the path of St.James, passing very close to where we live, at least up to Colmar, eventually Belfort or as far as we would come…
Directly at the border of the Rhine we found the first sign – yeah! – and followed it until we reached Bad Bergzabern, a lovely city at the border of the Forest Palatinate.
A few years ago I started a trekking tour there and so I instantly remembered not just the path and how it goes but also my excitement in advance of my little adventure. (For those of you who understand German you can read the story of my hike here.)

5The rise into the mountains starts on a sudden and really hard so that we were forced to walk quite a good part of the way. But the benefit of a tremendous view over the Rhine Valley was worth the effort. Unfortunately you don’t succeed in catching this on a picture and so we didn’t even try but simply just enjoyed the moment.

After several times of ups and downs we crossed the border to France and reached Wissembourg where we planned to spend the night – ideally…

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We drank something, bought something to eat and had our open air diner while we looked in the internet where the closest hotel was  and found a lovely one just a few hundred meters away. This looked so charming and lovely, we were already happy to have had such good luck – but all rooms were already charged for this night. However, the owners, a very friendly couple, were so supportive and called some other hotels to ask for an available room for us – without success. Finally we didn’t have any other chance than to continue our tour and leave Wissembourg to find a room in some of the small village in its surrounding.

Meanwhile it was 7 o’clock in the evening and we started getting a little nervous whether we would find something for the night or not. And therefore my husband searched on booking.com for any valid room no matter where but as close as possible to Wissembourg – and found one about 20km away…

That day we already sat on our bikes for about 80km, to cycle another 20km was not really what we were excited about. But no chance!
If we would have known how those 20km looked like I guess eventually we had given up ?!

The complete distance hills, hills, hills – up and down, up and down. I didn’t want to even see another hill! At the end, I was totally wiped out! Aggravating was the fact the sun to go down and so it became darker and darker without us having lights on our bicycles…

At half past eight we reached the “hotel” Chez Sandrine in Surbourg. Honestly under different conditions I am not sure if we would have entered. We stood in front of a very old house. The sign “Chez Sandrine” didn’t really seem to welcome us. Everything was dark except one light behind one window. [Immediately I thought of that scene in the Rocky Horror Picture Show when Janet and Brad found that dark and frightening house being the only chance to have some dry and warm place for the night…]
A man behind the window noticed us and one second later a friendly couple came out of the house to guide us in the patio where – I don’t know – 4-5 dogs expected us too. Thanks God, they were peaceful and we mustn’t be afraid of them. But still I wasn’t sure if we were at the right address…

This couple really was extremely friendly, led us through the – deserted – patio to a “guesthouse” in its back. And what a surprise!8 This was our room! We almost couldn’t believe and instantly were so assuaged. In July, they told us, they opened this guest room for the first time and it seemed as if we were their second guests only. Everything was completely brand new and looked stylish in a way we couldn’t calculate with by regarding this very old and dark house and entering this very simple patio…

We stayed there for our first night -receiving incredibly much help and support from the owners, free water and beer, coffee and milk for the breakfast and much more. They were really lovely!

 

 

 

…to be continued…