Hiking report

Weekend trip to Wissembourg!

If you have been following me for some time, you certainly know that we have visited a lot of places around Düsseldorf on weekend trips. It is so true that as soon as I start thinking about it around there, I almost get a headache, because wherever I try to organize one, there was almost always something different we have already done before. So, there were hardly any places we have not visited so far. However, there was this one particular place, Wissembourg, which has been in my bucket list for some time, and this time I managed to find a very nice apartment in the heart of the city. So I didn’t wonder much and booked it immediately.

The apartment was only for up to 7 people. There were, however, a lot more people who were interested to join. The rest of the people booked one more place in a nearby village, and in total we were 12 people. It’s funny to see that whenever there’s a group trip, we end up being a group of around 12 people, even if I don’t offer the places.

One reason why this trip was possible was because Amalia, Rohith and Giampaolo had a car. All of them got theirs relatively recently, which gave new possibilities in organizing weekend trips. Wissembourg has a train station, but it is somewhat complicated if you want to go there by train, because the last part, namely from Mannheim to Wissembourg, is served only a few times a day.

So in the afternoon of Dec. 15, Friday, Soumil came to my place and Amalia, who was already at my place to work remotely, Soumil and I started the journey from Düsseldorf around 5pm.

Since we had a car, there’s something I could have thought of: We could have bought all the stuff beforehand. I just followed the usual routine and decided to buy everything when we were there. Wissembourg being actually fairly far from Düsseldorf and very small, there was no supermarket open by the time we were arriving. So we ended up doing something in between and bought all the breakfast stuff on the way. That was sort of very stupid. Besides we had our dinner at Burger King. Really, we could have arranged it better.

We arrived there around 9pm. The apartment I took was only around 20€ per night per person. I was a little bit scared to see the actual one, but it turned out to be a wonderful place. As a matter of fact, there was even a bottle of wine there for us, which was great since we totally forgot to buy alcohol on the way. We played also UNO which Rohith brought, and went to bed some time around midnight.

Day II (Dec. 16, Saturday)

On weekend trips, usually we managed to start a hike around 9am, but somehow this time we were all kind of very tired, and got up slowly sometime after 8am. Then we had a very slow breakfast as well and started the journey around 10am.

I went out to get some Croissants, which is something you should always do if you are in France. At the same time, I was also observing the people there. This place, Wissembourg, was historically a German city, as the name sort of indicates, although there was a lot of back and forth over the course of the centuries and it’s kind of difficult to put it black or white. You can also see it in the city: there is a seizable number of people speaking German. When they speak German, however, they also have a very thick accent, that you might have to get used to if you have never heard of it. It’s not quite as difficult as the dialects in the south (towards Freiburg or Switzerland for example), but it still has a strong character.

The main reason why we wanted to go to Wissembourg was because of the beautiful city itself and the Christmas market. Frankly the hike was almost just an appendix, but still it’s the edge of this impressive Vosgues mountain range, which is on the other side of the Black Forest and from what I’ve heard so far just as impressive. So I created a trail right from the city to make a round tour.

As I already stated above, the city is very small, and we could reach the edge fairly quickly. As our apartment was located in the middle of the city, we could see the Christmas market a little bit (it was starting at 11am and was not quite open when we were there).

I guess the trail I made was not quite as impressive in the first part. It went alongside a large street. At least there was hardly any traffic.

Around this time the other group with the second apartment arrived in Wissembourg. They did not join the hike but stayed simply in the city.

The forest was indeed quite massive. Around this time of the year it’s obviously not so green, but the mountains were so massively covered that we could hardly see the surrounding area. It was actually a bit pity, because I was expecting to be able to have a great view over the plain between the Vosgues and the Black Forest, but it was hindered by those trees.

I was somehow totally convinced that there were castles and restaurants along the way. There was neither of them there, and we were just walking in the forest all the time. It was beautiful, but I was also a little bit sad because it’s also a famous area for castles. Besides I had nothing to eat or drink, so I was a bit hungry at some point.

There was one refuge on the way back. There was no one inside, but was kept clean inside, so whoever needs to sleep without a tent can simply go there and sleep. It’s a very nice system in France.

When we went back to the city, it was getting somewhat darker. So it was the best moment to join the Christmas market. Compared to the ones in NRW, this Christmas market was a lot less crowded and looked a lot more traditional. We bought some chestnuts, Spätzle and other small stuff. Not so expensive and super tasty. Frankly I cannot go to the Christmas markets in NRW anymore.

Even though I was very happy in the Christmas market, we somehow decided to go back to the apartment fairly early. We then joined the other group and looked for a restaurant – no chance. First of all, it was extremely expensive everywhere, which I can understand because it’s the French cuisine. In addition to this, everywhere it was fully booked. We ended up in a pizzeria and ordered some pizzas to take away. The guy in the pizzeria had an ultra thick Italian accent, so I switched to Italian as soon as I realized it. Somehow he thought it would be better to switch to Spanish (why?), which made it very difficult. Then I asked Giampaolo to talk to him. Somehow still he wanted to speak Spanish. Speak your mother tongue Mario!

So then we went back to the apartment and started playing UNO again, mainly to decide who was going to pick up the pizza. It took so long that the winners ended up going there to pick them up. What an efficient way…

Then in the apartment for 7 people there were 12 people sitting around. The couch was hopelessly overcrowded, but at least this French apartment had enough glasses, so we didn’t have a problem with the drinks, which we also had enough this time. I was close to feeling horrible towards the end of the evening with the amount of alcohol. Anyway we had a great time there.

Day III (Dec 17, Sunday)

There was a parade planned for the last Sunday before Christmas in Wissembourg. So we had to move the cars before 9am. Amalia and Rohith both took care of them. We then had our breakfast until 10am and moved out. Ms Brenkel, the owner of the apartment, was already waiting at the entrance as we were leaving. We made a quick tour around the apartment and she gave me an ok. Well as the name sort of already suggests, she was a lot more German than what you would expect in France.

I didn’t have a proper program for Sunday, but as I really wanted to see a castle, I looked up nearby ones. As I found this one called Landeck Castle with a Christmas market we decided to go there.

Just like many castles in the Palatinate forest, this castle was on top of a hill. We therefore had a short hike there, which was exactly the right amount of hike we needed for the day.

There’s hardly any Christmas market in NRW in a castle that does not take an entrance fee, but this one was free of charge. And it also had a beautiful medieval atmosphere and great food. Obviously as the castle was on top of a hill, we also had a great view over the area.

We stayed there for some time, buying a whole range of random items and then walked down the hill. It was some time past 1pm. We then directly went back to NRW.

There were not so many regular weekend trips this year. With “regular” I mean the ones where we have an apartment and we explore the area. However, the two we had, namely in Goslar and Wissembourg, I think we had a really great time. As Amalia and I will have at least one trip to Greece in the summer, one trip to Japan either in spring or autumn and one trip over Christmas (which should be Greece again), we will not have  much time for larger trips, but next year I will definitely organize regular weekend trips like this one.

As I already stated above, there are several people who got a car, and as I could also rent a car, we could think about organizing weekend trips with a car. And with this, there’s actually one important difference: We can buy food beforehand, and we can also buy more, because if something remains we can take things back home easily. For the next one in Bad Berleburg, I should definitely consider this point and organize it a bit better.

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