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01 May 2010

Road Trip Torino: Day 1

8 am: We’re off! The sky is cloudy, perfect for driving. There wasn’t much traffic. As we doive south, the first hour or so was in Belgium, with familiar countryside all around us.


As we left Belgium and entered Germany, we were in the Black Forest. There are high fences around the autobahn here, to keep the animals off the highway, and occasional overpasses just for the wild animals. Heh, my current favorite word in German is uberfahrt, which means overpass. But I always think it sounds like something else.

We passed windfarms, with their gracefully rotating ailerons. Depending on my mood, I think they either look like giant peace symbols or enormous rotating Mercedes ads. I kind of like to see them lurking about, making electricity from the wind. We also passed an enormous field full of solar panels near Trier.

We passed through the Mosel Valley, with its hillsides patchworked with grape vines. This is German wine country. It was raining when we passed, so I have no photos. Sorry.

From Germany, we crossed into France, into Alsace. Today is May 1, and in Europe that’s labor day. In France today all along the side of the roads, they’re selling mugets de bois, lily of the valley. It’s the tradition to buy a bouquet of mugets for your sweetie on Labor day. Whenever we make this drive, we stop for lunch near Strasbourg. There’s a little shortcut we take that takes us off the highway and through some pretty towns. We normally stop in one of them and have a picnic in the park. Today, however, the town was packed, because they had a May Day festival. Instead of our picnic in the park, we had a picnic in the car at the picturesque train station.

We were supervised by this guy:



This is a gorgeous part of the drive. After we got back on the highway, we drove through a gorgeous section of France, with fields on either side and mountains to the west. Whenever we come through here I think of Shakespeare’s description of ‘the vasty fields of France’.



Even though it’s early, the colza fields are blooming, giving a hint of the incredibly blinding yellow they’ll be as the summer progresses. In the mountains to the west of us (my side of the car) there is a string of castles on the hilltops, ancient defenses against ancient enemies.

Around 2 pm we entered our fourth country for the day, and we left the European Union. We got to Switzerland. When we entered Switzerland, we had to stop for customs and to pay an annual road tax. We also have to use Swiss francs instead of Euros.

Finally we reached our destination for the night: Bern. The capital of Switzerland, Bern was founded in 1191, and has for the most part escaped the ravages of war. It’s a charming place, a UNESCO world heritage site. We walked around the town, had a light dinner, and now we’re ready to call it a day. First, though, some photos from Bern:









Tomorrow we’ll cross the alps, and go through the St. Bernard tunnel. It’s supposed to rain, but I hope to get some photos for you in any case. The mountains are astonishing. See you tomorrow night, wifi permitting…
NOTE: I don't know what's up with the formatting on this post, but I can't seem to fix it on this computer. Sorry.

13 comments:

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you for taking us along on your road trip to Torino! I am already impressed with the beautiful sites and can't wait to see more!

ButterYum said...

Stunning!!! I'd love to go someday!

Have a wonderful trip.

:)
ButterYum

Pam said...

Oh, I'm so enjoying "our" trip!

Junglefrog said...

O have fun on your trip!! We'll be driving to Italy ourselves in a month time!!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Thanks for taking along on your road trip. Looks beautiful. Bern looks beautiful!
I know those spam issues, I have had the same.
Happy Trails!
Pam

Sally said...

thank you thank you for sharing your trip....
have such fond memories of those places- and hope to see them again soon....

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I wish I could convince my husband to let us take a road trip!This is the next best thing. I love the photos of the King and Queen in the wall. Enjoy your ride

Kate said...

Oh Kate!! Thank you for taking me on your road trip. I loved it. Thank you for sharing!

In October we will be taking a cruise down the Rhine...we are so excited and your photos just fueled the fire!

kristen said...

Great pictures! Thanks for taking us along on your trip!

Barbara said...

I'm having such fun on your road trip, Kate!
Doesn't it always strike you that you move from country to country as easily as we move from state to state?

Susan @ The Spice Garden said...

Mugets de bois ... what a lovely name ... views of Bern are beautiful ... isn't Springtime just the best ?!? Enjoy the views and the fresh air! I look forward to more updates!

Kim said...

Thanks for sharing such wonderful pictures Kate. I love the picture of the French countryside and also the beautiful pictures of Bern. What a beautiful and picturesque trip.

2 Stews said...

Oh, I love coming along on others trips. Some friends just returned back to Paris from a weekend in Strasbourg, it looks so charming. Too bad you didn't get to stop.

Safe travels!