25 Jun 2013

Day 3: Slow road to Ammerschwihr

We woke up at 9am and checked out by 10. I had messaged Tom the night before to say we had made it to our next stop in one piece and prematurely gloated about the lack of rain. Of course it was raining this morning—lesson to self: never tempt fate.

By this point we were only 200 km from Ammerschwihr but little did I know it would take nearly 5 hours to cover that distance. The Alsace is a mountainous region with tiny roads, unless you opt to slab it down the Autoroute (we didn't).

We searched for a boulangerie in a village, only to circle three times before seeing it tucked among the other buildings. We had freshly baked quiches and pain-au-chocolats. I don't know how the French do it, but you can never find pastry so light and delicious outside of France. And the bakeries seem to be absolutely consistent, the quality is the same wherever you are.

The rougher end of the village.

As we left the village the floodgates opened and we endured the next hour in a downpour. My Icon gear is the first I've had from this brand and I can happily report that it does indeed live up to the advertising. Not a drop of water came in.

After a few faster roads the GPS sent me up a mountain track. This road was barely wide enough for two motorbikes to pass let alone a car and it appeared to be formed out of shingles of asphalt. But the scenery was absolutely stunning, you could almost taste the green.

Inevitable 'comfort' break.

Lush Alsatian woods. 

Trees older than any of us.

After such a long winter this year, everything has exploded in green.

Out the other end we came to a beautiful twisty mountain road (I was told later it is a destination road for bikers) and carried on to Ammerschwihr. With only 5km to go, like magic we came out of the mountains into a valley of vineyards and even the sun started peaking out from the clouds. The air had the scent of grape flowers, a musty, earthy smell that reminds me of summer.

We arrived at my friend Laure's family winery and after a warm welcome, moved the panniers into their guesthouse.

A day late but mission accomplished—made it to J B Adam winery.

Naomi got competition.

Another view of J B Adam winery.

399 years after inception, the one of the winery buildings becomes a make-shift shelter for a lone F800GS.

Laure wanted to show us around Kaysersberg, a picturesque Alsatian village 5 minutes from Ammerschwihr so we loaded into her fancy 4x4 and set off. I felt so oddly disconnected to reality riding in a car again, almost as though you're not moving.

15 generations from the founding Adam, the lovely Laure carries on the family tradition.

An Alsatian trademark—storks.

The town looks like something out of a fantasy, complete with babbling brook.

Everywhere clean and tidy.

Rub-a-dub-dub—artisan soaps.

Ladybird, stork and cat soaps.

Cobblestone roads.

A little waterfall.

Laure gets handy with the camera.

One beautiful street after another.

Everywhere you look is immaculate.

Laure and Zev contemplate the most effective way to caloric overindulgence with a full range of Alsatian spiced bread treats.

Constantine Fountain built in 1321.

Alsatian butchers—too much temptation for anyone with a soft spot for wurst.

Leaving the town.

We headed back to the winery to get ready to go to L'empereur de la tarte flambée, a restaurant in nearby Kintzheim, which apparently serves the best tarte flambée in the Alsace. But not before a late night private wine tasting of J B Adam's best.

Muscat the winery puss.

A private late night extended wine tasting courtesy of Laure.

This bottle will do...

We went to the restaurant and had far too much to eat and drink. Tarte flambée is the Alsatian answer to pizza—a thin crust with cheese, cream, onions and lardons fired in an impossibly hot oven until the edges are singed. Absolutely devine.

We arrived back at the guesthouse around 11pm and it was straight to sleep.

Alps 2013 quick links

Day 1: London to Lille
Day 2: Lille to Hagondange
Day 3: Slow road to Ammerschwihr
Day 4: Ammerschwihr
Day 5: Ammerschwihr to Thônes
Day 6: Thônes to.... Thônes
Day 7: Thônes to Ruèras
Day 8: Ruèras to Flachau
Day 9: Flachau
Day 10: Flachau to Wemding
Day 11: Wemding to Urberach
Day 12: Urberach to Antwerp
Day 13: Antwerp to London

The gear and how it held up
The trip in hindsight