Our last day in Alsace.
We choose to hike up the hill to the Chateau L’Ortenberg we have been looking at almost everyday. The view is spellbinding. The Vosges Mountains on one side, the pretty town of Scherwiller on the other, vineyards all over. A nip in the air with the promise of a storm, and the sun obscured by heavy clouds. Uphill hikes are always ‘uphill’ for me, but Souvik doesn’t even pause for breath. So he gets to lug my camera. Which I keep pulling out of the bag, wanting to take pictures of everything. Naturally, we take a few wrong decisions, plodding on until we realise that walking downhill won’t get us to the castle up there. Then we spot the right path that somebody has marked with fluorescent chalk, string, some marking on trees. Huh! It’s steep, I keep my head down and pause at every hundred steps to catch my breath that got left behind. It’s a good thing, because there are lovely views at every pause. Then we catch a glimpse of the castle wall and I give it my all to get there quickly… Only to find that it’s locked up, and there’s no way in. We are disappointed, but rationalise that we had our oxygen spa and need to get back in time to finish packing. A quick peek into the chapel where I parked the bike, and we are off to Scherwiller, 800m away.
There’s a fast and furious storm just as we get indoors. Lucky to have escaped that! Missed breakfast, so find our way to Chez Cathy Salon de thé for croissants and coffee. Buy a couple of souvenirs (kougelhopf moulds), stuff them into the already full suitcases. Wisely decide not to buy the local wine we’ve been drinking everyday, because then the suitcases wouldn’t have shut.
We meet Nick to say goodbye, and he says, oh you should have gone around the locked ruins to the other side to the main castle which is accessible. Really? We missed those chalk marks on that trail then. It’s time to leave. Madame Eltier brings her taxi around, and we say au revoir to Madame & Monsieur Ramstein who have made a name for themselves for their excellent hospitality. The taxi zips away passing some of the now-familiar towns – Dambach-la-ville, Ebersheim, Epfig – and in no time we’re at Gare Strasbourg to take the fast train to Paris.
Au revoir Alsace. Paris, here we come!