Thursday, August 18, 2011

A side trip to Germany

Since Selestat is closer to Germany than it is from our house to North East, we decided to cross the Rhine to see how the two sides of the river compared.

We crossed the Rhine at Marckolsheim where they have dammed the river and generate hydro electricity. The current is quite strong but barge traffic can move against it. Here is a gigantic lock that allows boat traffic to bypass the dam.

The hydro generating station is to the left. It's quite large.

That is a very large crane.

And so we drove into Germany. We had decided to cross a small mountainous area called Kaiserstuhl or 'Kings Chair' and it is the remains of a volcano. Oddly enough, Kaiser Stuhl is a famous name for Aussie wine drinkers of a certain age. It was the name of a winery in the Barossa Valley named after the highest peak on the southern side of the valley. Although it produced red wines, it was famous for it's sparkling wines and also some sweet late picked Rieslings which if allowed to age were absolutely gorgeous.

No surprise then that the original Kaiserstuhl is a wine growing area. Immediately you can notice a difference between Germany and France. In Germany they trellis and the vines run parallel to the contour lines on the hillside. In France the vines run straight up and down the hill.

Some sort of black grape, possibly Pinot Noir, that would be used in Spatburger.

However perhaps the biggest curiosity is the corn. They grow it in rows of four with a separation from the next four rows.

To be honest, the towns do not match those in Alsace for beauty. I doubt there are too many tourists.

However we were held up a by a train at a level crossing and so decided to go back and look more at a village that we had just passed through.

The name of the town.

It was quickly apparent that this little town was making a real effort to become a tourist destination.

The original solar collector in front of a new fangled solar collector.

A local winery! Wineries were small but abundant. However this winery appeared to be quite large. Perhaps it was a group of wine makers who joined forces.

We came across a small bakery and I could see some pastries at a price of 1 euro each so we decided to go in. On the shelf they also had some bread called rottbrot that looked intriguing so I asked for one as well as a couple of the pastries. The lady then gave us a totally different bread from the one we were thinking of, but I wasn't going to argue with her with my very limited German. More about the bread at the end of the blog.

Oddly enough even though I had very few German lessons compared to four years of high school French, I feel more comfortable with German. Interestingly in Alsace, the local people quote prices in French and German.

Though not quite as lavish with the flowers as the buildings in Alsace, this was pretty good.

I have this thing about gates. In this photo, I liked the shadow.

Direction signs are different in Germany. Traffic lights are more common than roundabouts in Germany but the roundabouts in France work better than the German traffic lights as far as I can see.

Menu at local cafe. One euro is about $1.40.

This is the price per liter, effectively about $8 per US gallon. Petrol was a bit more expensive in Germany than France.

What a nifty pair of chimneys.

The local boozer. Perhaps it rivals the Rendezvous in Perryville, MD.

The local train station.

They can obviously grow roses here.

One of the onion shaped steeples that are common in Germany.

Another one.

Finally it was time to go back to France but to get there we had to join this line waiting to get on a car ferry.

The ferry actually runs all year and these are the hours for July and August.

This is Claude's Ford Maxi. I continue to enjoy driving it but it was a relief to get back to France because the German roads are just a bit narrower than the French.

Out in mid stream.

So back to the bread. It turned out to be a white bread with little bits of bacon and it was absolutely delicious and went very well with a bottle of sparkling cider. We just about finished the loaf.

So we enjoyed our little side trip to Germany, but the Alsace side of the river offers more to the tourist.

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