30 Jun 2014

Europe 2014: Day 10 - Ammerschwihr

I’m too old to party into the wee hours and slept until 11am. I’d promised Laure I’d look at her mother’s computer and then we all had lunch together.

I managed to remove the panniers without too much difficulty (despite the release mechanism being bent on the left side) so we could explore some of the narrow Alsatian roads in the hills around Ammerschwihr.

We went to Kaysersberg first to find a bar of soap Zev wanted entitled ‘the birth of a cat’—a very strange piece indeed with the shapes of a kitten and a womb incorporated into the bar. The soap maker hadn’t made this design for a while so we left empty-handed.

More colour, more flowers, more greenery—I never get bored of the scenery.

The Kaysersberg city hall with a madwoman in pink playing accordion while wearing sunglasses.

Another garden set into the roadway.
We carried on to Riquewihr and went up into the mountains. The roads are only single track so it is important to be very careful on the many blind corners as it’s very tight even for a motorbike to pass an oncoming car.

Out of the vineyards, the scenery changed to lush forests of evergreen trees. It was tempting to explore some of the dirt trails coming off the main road but I decided to leave these for another visit—although my confidence is back for the most part, I still find myself feeling nervous on questionable surfaces.

A quick break among the trees.

Zev kicks into action looking for more plant samples.

The single lane road winding through the Alsatian woods.

A snail about 4cm in diameter—it looked like a slug with a shell!

One of several water pumping stations—rather than ugly industrial pumps ruining the forests, the councils have successfully integrated them into the scenery.

Hello everyone, it’s Zev. I’m feeling somewhat nervous precariously sitting next to a steep embankment.

The bike’s ‘good side’ until repairs are carried out.

Yup. I had to get in on the valley background photo action.

A panorama of the valley.

We returned to Ammerschwihr for a mandatory wine tasting at Laure’s family winery which celebrated its 400th year in operation this year. Laure is the 15th generation of her family to run the winery.

This is Pinot, a Maine Coon mix which means despite his pissed off expression he is actually a very social and affectionate creature.

An old wine press in the tasting room.

I’ll take the whole bottle please.

Behaving myself this time—and I should mention my appreciation of Laure’s generosity to allow us to stay in her winery for three nights to recuperate.

Pinot is not amused.

Just a small part of the winery.

Looking up the road with the winery in the distance.

Of course my favourite wine of all was a delicious 2007 special selection Gewürztraminer made with handpicked, late season grapes. It is only made every five years or so in small batches, and sold in 500ml bottles (instead of the usual 750ml). It is meant to be a dessert wine, or one to enjoy with very rich food. A bottle like this would go for £70+ in London easily, but direct from the winery it was a shockingly reasonable €28.

Afterwards we went to a local restaurant Aux Armes de France for dinner—far, far more posh a restaurant than I would normally go to, but once in a while you have to treat yourself. After a 5 course meal I only had to roll 100 metres back to the winery.

On the way home I saw this sign—I can’t say I’ve ever had fine Alsatian colon wine before...

The flats at the winery.
It’s hard to believe in the morning we’ll be hopping on the bike and aiming the GPS to London, but our stop in the Alsace has been just what the doctor ordered to put the trip back on track. Next time I’ll bring a tent and squat in one of the vineyards...

Europe 2014 quick links

Day 1: London to Sint-Gillis-Waas
Day 2: Sint-Gillis-Waas to Bad Driburg
Day 3: Bad Driburg to Berlin
Day 4: Berlin
Day 5: Berlin to Prague
Day 6: Prague
Day 7: Prague to Wemding
Day 8: Wemding to Ammerschwihr
Day 9: Ammerschwihr
Day 10: Ammerschwihr
Day 11: Ammerschwihr to Eschdorf
Day 12: Eschdorf to London