After a couple of days in Strasbourg, during which DonQui took the opportunity to have a glass or three of the most excellent Alsatian Riesling (unfortunately very hard to find in the UK), he hires a car and makes his way over to the German side of the Rhine for a brief trip around the Black Forest.
His starting point is amongst the vineyards of Durbach where, in DonQui’s opinion, some of the best wine in Germany is to be found. None of it is exported so it is a treat he very much looks forward to whenever he is in the region. Those whose who have no experience of German wine, apart from the mass-produced stuff that makes it overseas, may be surprised by the superior quality that the inhabitants of the Rhine valley keep for themselves
He stays at the most excellent Hotel Rebstock. In high summer season the prices there can be a bit eye-watering but off season it is very reasonable for a top-end establishment.
The food is superb…
.. and the atmosphere most congenial.
In acknowledgement of the cold winter temperatures, they even lit fires in the grounds.
Beyond the low vine covered hills at the edge of the Rhine Valley lies the Black Forest, so named for the dark pine trees which grow on the slopes of the steep hills (almost low mountains).
As he descends into the valleys DonQui cannot help but admire the wonderful architecture of the Black Forest farms. The pre-Christmas scene is made more atmospheric by the dusting of snow on the hills. At one point he spies two magnificently antlered Hirsch (large deer) grazing in a meadow.
DonQui’s destination is Triberg, home of the Cuckoo Clock and also Germany’s highest waterfall. A well maintained walkway allows him to wander up alongside the waterfall where icicles form along the sides.
On the way back he stops off at the beautifully preserved late-medieval town of Gengenbach. This was a Reichsstadt (Imperial city) in the 15-1700s — held directly by the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna rather than being controlled by local nobles. A Christmas market is in full swing so DonQui takes the opportunity to stock up on a few comestibles.
The town hall is decorated as an advent calendar with each window representing the days before Christmas.
Wandering through the Black Forest it is hard not to imagine ancient stories of wolves, trolls and fairies. DonQui even spies one dipping her toes in a pond.