Wednesday, June 15 Mulhouse-Colmar
As per our new normal, we left our hotel in the center of the village, and it started to rain just a few minutes later. (This will end up being a very expensive tour as we’re wearing out our rain gear!) It rained continuously and hard at times until noon. We had our morning café au lait and drip dried in a hotel bar about 11:30 when the rain was at it hardest. We stopped for lunch by the side of the road at about 1:30 and from that point on,the weather improved into a beautiful afternoon. On our way to Colmar, we pulled into Equisheim, a village on the side of the hills that has been voted by its neighbor the Alsacian villages as the “cutest village in Alsace.” They didn’t exaggerate.
Our entrance was made really special by the storks peering out of their nests on the tallest parts of the church and city hall.
The village has perhaps 100 houses and businesses. The outsides of most of these ancient buildings have been cleaned up, refurbished with stucco/plaster and painted vibrant colors while leaving the timber exposed. The village lives up to the brochure. See for yourselves.
After spending about 2 ½ hours walking around Equisheim we rode the last 5 kms. to Colmar through the valley lined with small mountains.
We settled in at Colmar and enjoyed a lovely post sunset sky.
Thursday, June 16 Colmar-Rhinau
Before leaving town, we left our panniers with the receptionist and walked around the old city for an hour or so taking pictures and marveling at the exquisite buildings. We visited the cathedral, a huge building with some very fine aspects.
We discovered two outdoor markets, window shopped for a little while and went back to the hotel, loaded up and rode to the “Little Italy” section (because of the canals) of the old city which is a series of bridges across the canal with beautiful, bright flower boxes that highlighted the old buildings that flanked the canal. It lived up to the brochure.
Many pictures later we headed out of town to the beginning of where we picked up EuroVelo Route #15 and began our travels north along the Rhine. Our ride was spiced up when we saw a fox in the canal. It was swimming toward our side and was very close to us, but got spooked and turned around, swam to the far bank and scampered up out of sight. A little later we saw two animals swimming together in the canal. They looked like beavers, but were much larger and didn’t have the large, flat tail. We slept in Rhinau that night. Our host at the Chambre d’Hote said they were Coypu and are very common here. The place was a working farm old barn/house remodeled and very homey. We could see the Rhine from the TI in the village.
Saturday, June 18 Rianu- Strasbourg, France
We arrived in Strasbourg early afternoon and spent 3 hours visiting the TI, looking for maps, and generally getting lost in the ancient city of canals. It rained hard as we were buying a sweat treat at an Arab market, but while holing up in the entry it gave us a chance to visit with a local woman who was also shopping for sweats as it’s Ramadan. She was out shopping on her kid hauler bike which usually has her 3 kids in it.
We signed up for the 3 pm tomorrow walking tour which included the Cathedral. Before finding our hotel which was just across the canal 1 block from the old city, we went to Le Petite France for a drink. It’s an amazingly cute area around the canals with all of the buildings being fixed up half timbers.
There were 6-8 riders, both men and women, also taking a break who were on a 1 week cycling tour on all sorts of antique cycles and who were dressed for the part.
Today was a whole day to investigate Strasbourg. It’s a really beautiful and interesting old city circled by canals and the river. We spent the morning wandering through the 4 outdoor markets, local produce, antiques, flower and flea. No purchases except edibles as “where would we put them?” We also went on a search for a bookstore that carried the Velo Route #15 cycle maps without success. A portion of this route is in France, nevertheless, no bookstore carries them. We did however find a detailed map of the area that will get us through until we reach Germany where the next section of our journey along Route 15 will take place. Everyone kept saying to look for them in Germany. We’ll try to be patient.
The balance of the morning was spent just walking around and taking pictures.
Back to the hotel for the leftovers from last night’s meal, some planning and resting after 3 hours on our feet.
It took a brisk walk to get us back to the Tourist Information office to join the 3 p.m. tour which included the Cathedral and the historic areas of the old city.. The cathedral was started in the 11th century and completed in the 14th century. A the time it had the highest steeple in Europe.
It has stained glass windows that date to the 13th century. They were removed during the Second World War with only one lost. The pulpit is a replacement from the original which was carved wood. The replacement is carved stone and very impressive. The organ is also very beautiful and colorful. Our guide was not animated, spoke with a heavy accent, did not wait for the group to assemble before speaking and didn’t speak loudly enough for all to hear. When we were able to hear her though, she was informative. We walked around the old city both last night and this morning, we had seen many of the places that she pointed out to us but with some history.
As with the last week or so, it rained on and off many times during the day. Fortunately for us we had our umbrellas with and used them frequently. Our tourist day ended with a coffee au lait and a kugel which is a popular pastry. We had a Chevre Chaud salad and crepes for dinner. The salad was the best we have had this trip as were the crepes.
Father’s Day, Sunday June 19 Strasbourg to Seltz
Pulled back the drapes to a beautiful day. It’s still very cool for the end of June, but we’ll take the no rain day. We rode past a very picturesque scene before we saw the European Union office buildings and parliament.All very new and gleaming with glass and steel.
The area north of Strasbourg had lots of flooded fields and several sections of the canal paths were closed so we went through the little villages on the road instead.
We rode past many photogenic houses, both new and old with many flower boxes.
We passed the biggest lock on the Rhine and in Europe.
Our route crossed the Magineau line with the foolhardy bunkers broken and overgrown.
Although not today, we neglected to mention the strawberry stands that we frequent on each occasion that we are fortunate enough to spy one.We got a good look at the France side of the Black Forest.
Sunday and Father’s Day in France kept the traffic down. Some of the ferries that transport cars, bikes, and people back and forth across the river are not running due to the high water crisis. We pulled into our lodging for the night at 3, worked on the blog and adjusted the GPS and sipped some Blackberry liqueur, had an Italian dinner, watched the soccer game between France and Switzerland which ended in a 0-0 tie and called it a night.