... Strasbourg 'Not a Gateau in Sight! (Black Forest...get it?!)'
It's an early morning rise as the church bells are a ringing only less than a few feet away and this one is different...this one decides that 6am is a good time to start chiming! With the early rise and the clear blue skies above we go for a walk in the Black Forest to get the fresh air into our lungs before the off. After breakfast our first port of call for the day is heading towards town where to park up for the waterfalls and its 4 euros to get in ... but i only have 3 euros in my pocket for emergencies...didn't think we'd have to pay for this one!
After trudging back to the van i did ponder if to bother to see the waterfalls at all but as i'm here i may as well...and you never know, it may be the best one yet. And was it? It was actually ... one of the poorest waterfalls i've come across as it was one that i could well have designed for my tiny garden at home. That's probably underserving but after the last 3 it wasn't replacing any of them as places to visit for waterfalls. Mind you we are in the forest and they aren't known for its mountains and water sources. Ellie was loving it as its the first time that she's come across the smell of a squirrel for a while, as come to think of it i've not seen many in Europe. We see one running up the tree and Ellie's senses are all up trying to track it down....it's up a tree you numpty. If you can climb trees knock yourself out chasing it! Sometimes i can feel a children's book writing itself with the Ellie adventures Home and Abroad!
The town is very cute and has more than one, well three that i could see within a few feet of each other, clock shops and not just any clocks but cuckoo ones. Now am i mistaken as i thought cuckoo clocks were more Swiss and Austrian than German but it seems i'm spotting them everywhere in Germany instead. So with 45 minutes on the parking ticket well justified, as it wasn't long to get to the top and back down again with photo opportunities on route, we went to the next destination that the guide said was worth a visit whilst we are in the Black Forest and that was Todtnau. We got there after driving through the forest, with a few ascent and descends and hair pins as we go, and it really is one for the winter this one i feel. Definitely more of a ski resort feeling to it Todtnau, well it is German's oldest skiing area, but not much to look at in the summer months so we headed off to Strasbourg.
Whilst driving my stomach for some reason wasn't feeling too great and with the heat in the car getting near to air con time (which hasn't happened in last few weeks) we come to some traffic on the motorway. Not being able to handle the slow moving traffic with my stomach we manage to pull in a few 100 yards ahead to a service area and find a space (just parking spots with picnic benches and a toilet type area) to settle myself there for half an hour to let the pain subside. Mints...i have mints i suddenly remembered! After taking a couple of the M&S strong mints in that green tub it seems to be doing the trick and we are ready for the off once more but time is getting lost. I start the van....well i try to but the gear box has packed up on me again! I try the tricks that i did before and nothing, just a click and nothing more when i turn the key.
Next off comes the gear stick covering and i get the white plastic flag to Neutral and push it...nothing. Try again and the car starts ... just! Time to input a mazda garage into TomTom to see what comes up and there seems to be one in the middle of Strasbourg which is a bonus. Therefore i can park on up and if it doesn't work then at least i'm at a garage to see them first thing in the morning as by the time i get there i think that they'll be closed, but you never know. Into Strasbourg and looking for the garage it takes me through the tiny streets of this city and just past the pedestrian only areas...are we sure there is one here? Once 'you've reached your destination' has popped up i beg to differ as there was nothing, just a building that looks like its apartments and an antiques shop. Well what do i do as i'm not sure that if i stop that the engine will come on again and i have to make sure i'm in the position where i'm not at a parking meter at least. Decision made, as the garages will be shut after 5pm anyway now we'll head to the motorhome place to park up about 5km out of town which means settling in for the night and then trying something in the morning, depending on what the van wants to do!
Car park found and we park on up but at 5.45pm i feel that waiting to see Strasbourg until tomorrow will delay the trip and getting to Berlin on time to meet the folks so i turn the engine off....to turn it back on again. Result, it starts!! Okay so i'll chance to see what this evening brings and i drive back into Strasbourg and park up. At the parking meter it free from 7pm til 9am the following day so i just have to put in an hour and think of what best to do. If the worst happens when i get back and can't start it i'll just sleep here and call breakdown recovery in the morning as where i've parked is under trees, directly to my left is the river and to my right an apartment block with street lights so i'll have no issues if i have to stay here the night.
We walk on around Strasbourg and i'm so so glad that i put this on my itinerary when i was looking a few months back of what to see in France. This popped up and originally i couldn't do it but with of changing plans, and having a bit of time to look to see whats to the West of Germany with the Black Forest and all, i could fit it in. Its right on the boarders with Germany, just a bridge between rivers separating them but its certainly French here, not a speck of Germany influence at all which at borders sometimes there is a slight mixture of the two. I do miss France, it has its charm and has its self respect in the sense that they look after their streets, building, roads etc. Take pride i'd say which can come across as arrogance but pride is more of an observation.
This is one university city with students everywhere and tourists groups travelling through the streets and the River. I decide to have an ice cream but there's no where to the door to tie up Ellie so a kind student offers to hold her whilst i run inside. Suddenly in the queue i thought that this may not have been the best idea as the girl is sitting on a high stool enjoying her ice cream whilst stroking Ellie who at this moment is sitting on the floor looking at her. But what if an Alsatian goes past, or something that spooks her...that girl will be flying off from that stool with ice cream in her face as she floors flat onto the pavement! Move quicker please...more decisive decisions are needed here people on what ice cream to have, a cone or not to cone!
My turn and i pay...but then i have to wait until the lady behind the counter has finished serving those in front who are choosing...chose people chose! I get to see Ellie out of the window at this point and manage to keep her engaged onto me, and not looking out to the streets as she was when i spotted her! No alsatians, not just yet at least! Finally it's my turn and i've made my decision before even walking into this place and he takes his time putting it in...why is it so relaxed around here! Ice cream got, Ellie back with me on her lead and a massive thank you to the girl looking after her, all is safe!! Now i say Alsatians as these are the dogs that Ellie will bark at as she's had an incident in the past with one...well with another here if you remember at the Waterfalls in Menmore, Italy. When she barked at one at a campsite i said to them its because theirs was an Alsatian but they corrected me to German Shepherd when i was in France. But they look the same to me and so they would to Ellie. But what I learnt from google Deacs when she was here is that Alsatians are the same as German Shepherds, we just call them Alsatians. Now the clue was in the name....that's why i see so many German Shepherds in Germany!!! And that's why i'm more conscious of them here!
We walk on round for a good few hours until its getting dark and as the sun was setting it made this city look even more beautiful. Once back at the car i turn the engine on...and we are good to go!! Hurrah!! To the motorhome parking place we went and if it doesn't start in the morning, and after a few technical wiggles of the stick from me and still not working, then we'll get breakdown to get us to a garage. First thing first, sleep. Although the van is warm inside and its still warm on the outside so its going to be a bit sticky for a while. Ellie is just sitting at me and staring which means one of two things, a) she's too warm and needs air or b) she needs the toilet. We try the toilet first but nothing and when we return to the van she very quickly lays outside. Okay, you can stay there for a bit but its near midnight! Once she seemed cool enough, and after getting the ice i could from the bottle of water i keep in the freezer but melts slowly as soon as we stop, then it was door closing time and time for bed.