After another great breakfast in the garden at Les Agnates, we hit the road and headed towards the Black Forest. With plenty of time for the drive, we programmed Daniella to avoid the toll roads and we drove the secondary roads, enjoying the French countryside and the small villages we passed through.
By mid-afternoon we had arrived in Zell im Wiesental where our friends Hansjorg and Silke live. In the Black Forest, located in the southwest corner of Germany, 30 minutes from Basel, Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, it is a prime location for exploration. This being our third visit to Zell, as it is called by the locals, we are somewhat familiar with the area. On a previous visit we had stayed at Berggasthof Schluessel, in the nearby hillside village of Pfaffenberg. It was a great place to stay the last time, so of course it became our choice on this visit. The guest house was recently taken over by new owners, Jacob and Sunny. Jacob is a trained chef and oversees the kitchen, while Sunny takes care of the customers in the restaurant and the guest house.
CATHIE, SILKE, MUM, AND HANSJORG
DELIVERY OF THE STRAWBERRIES, BOY WERE THEY GOOD
Any visit to Hansjorg and Silke's is going to involved hiking in the Black Forest. Having pretty much sat on our butts since I completed the Camino, we were due to get out and about. With Hansjorg in the lead we took a route above Zell enjoying the views.
RAKING THE HAY BY HAND
BLACK FOREST VIEWS
THE GRILL MASTER
Second hike, although longer, included a ride in a gondola to near the top of the mountain and a hike down. With temperatures reaching near 90 degrees, down was a good choice.
THERE STILL WAS SOME UP
FRANCE IN THE DISTANCE
FIRST THE COWS
THEN THE WARNING
THE VILLAGE OF PFAFFENBERG
AFTER HIKE REWARD
On our last visit with Hansjorg and Silke, we were treated to a dinner at Silke's sisters, Antje's and her husband, Mino. Both Mino and Antje walked the Camino last year and are doing a camino again this year. They postponed their journey this year a couple of weeks knowing we were coming for a visit. Mino, is a great cook, or should I say chef, and on our last visit prepared a meal fit for a king and queen. He once again proved he is still up to the task with another great meal.
Because I didn't get a photo of both of them, I am posting a photo from our last visit.
MINO IN THE KITCHEN
After the pasta, I was so enjoying the meal and company that I forgot to take photos of the rest of the meal. Salmon for the main and a wonderful dessert prepared by Antje. We had a wonderful evening and it was great to talk a fellow pilgrim.
With the temperatures sill in the low 90's we passed on another hike, but Hansjorg and I went for a bike ride instead. A maintained walking a bike trail runs the length of the valley where Zell is situated. It goes along an abandoned rail line, so the only incline is if you ride up the valley. To solve this problem, the Germans have come up with a better idea.
This bus runs in the summertime for bikers and hikers. So, for the price of a bus ride they'll take you and your bike up the valley as far as you want to go and then you ride back down. To make it even better, if you are staying in the area as a tourist, when you check in to your lodging you get a bus pass for anywhere in the Black Forest.
We had one last dinner with our friends on the terrace at Berggasthof Schluessel which was a great way to cap off another enjoyable visit. As Hansjorg is planning on retiring next year, it is he and Silke's turn to pay us a visit. He is already planning.
SILKE AND MUM
The following morning we drove the short distance to Basel-Mulhouse airport, returned our Peugeot and had an uneventful and on time flight home.
For my San Diego friends and readers of this blog, a word about British Airways. We have flown British Airways the last couple of trips to Europe. They are the only airline with a direct flight to Europe (London) from San Diego. This eliminates changing in Chicago, Dallas-Fortworth, Atlanta, or on the east coast. When leaving San Diego on any other flight and with the change somewhere else in the US, you usually arrive in Europe in the AM. That makes it a long time before you get to bed and aggravates jet-lag. The BA flight leaves San Diego around 8:30 PM and you arrive in London around 3:30 PM the next day. If you're connecting to anywhere on the mainland, you are arriving late afternoon or early evening in most cases. Arrive, go to bed, equals no or little jet-lag.
We don't like to fly economy on these long-haul flights and I'm sure most feel the same. We cannot afford business class, but we will spring the extra expense for premium economy. We have flown premium on an American carrier, and it does not compare to what BA offers. The upgrade on US airlines gives you more leg room, which is great, but that's it. The upgrade on BA gives you more leg room, a wider seat which reclines further and has a foot rest. You are also in a separate cabin and the food in better. It's not business class, but neither is the price. For us it is worth the extra, as it is a much more comfortable journey on this a 10 to 11 hour flight.