One of the things you must do when in this part of the world is take a trip to Haut Koenigsbourg castle. The road up there is a bit of a roller coaster with sharp turns, steep drops and mad people hiking, cycling and jogging to the top. Having me singing “I’m on the top of the world looking down on creation…” at the top of my voice in your ear will make the whole experience even more enjoyable.
We parked the car and walked to the castle, stopping to take photos every couple of seconds. The views over the Rhine Valley from this vantage point are nothing short of spectacular.
On the way back, we took a spin to Colmar but, it being Sunday, practically everything was shut due to the French doing whatever it is they do on a Sunday – or any other random day.
Still, we had more important things to think about. Ireland and Germany were playing that afternoon and we had to hightail it back to Ribeauvillé to find somewhere to watch the matches. In Berlin, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Every bar, restaurant, café and even Döner stand has a TV set up so you don’t miss a minute of the action. The only place we could find that was showing it was Bar Streng, our saviour yet again.
We made it just in time for kick-off, ordered some wine and settled in for the afternoon. The French were out in full force to cheer on the home team and cries of “Allez les bleus!” rang out from every corner. I waited for a pause before loudly interjecting, “Allez les garçons en vert!!” After a brief stunned silence, the French took it in their stride and some good-natured banter sprang up. I guess they knew that the Irish were never going to be any real threat… Sure enough, they won it with relative ease and I didn’t have to take on a bar of angry French football fans. Phew.
If this had been Ireland or Germany, the bar would have been packed for hours afterwards, but the French cleared out tout de suite. In fact, by the time Germany kicked off, there was only me, Manfredas and one other guy left. Still, we didn’t need much company to enjoy watching Germany hammer Slovakia. At least one of my home teams was through.
Since the town was pretty dead, we picked up some takeaway and headed back to our little garden for a chilled evening of wine and conversation. I must be getting old.
The next morning, we found the one patisserie that was open – maybe the French had continued celebrating in their own homes? – and popped in for breakfast.
I ordered a pain au chocolat and a cup of tea and Manfredas, a coffee and a couple of croissants. This was clearly too complicated for the girl behind the counter. She proceeded to painstakingly write everything down, longhand, then look up the prices for each item and add them up on her piece of paper, carrying the one wherever necessary. While it was a little embarrassing to watch, we got our order in the end.
On the agenda for our last day was a trip to Kaysersberg, another ridiculously pretty town not far away.
We passed through glorious countryside along the way and finally rolled into town about an hour later.
We spent a wonderful few hours strolling through the town, marvelling, yet again, that places like this still exist.
Sadly, after some lunch, it was time to hit the road and head back to the airport. But, not without accomplishing one of my dreams along the way. Yes, we stopped in the baddest of all the BAD towns – Baden Baden.
The town itself is quite lovely but the crowning moment for me was this one:
Merriment achieved, it was time to head to the airport. Karlsruhe-Baden Baden is probably the only airport I’ve been to where there were no queues and you could practically sit on the runway while enjoying a last glass of wine.
Thankfully, this time round, our flight existed and we were soon airborne, waving goodbye to all of the prettiness below and wondering how we were ever going to readjust to being back in Berlin…