Sunday, 29 October 2006


Total and utter tangent but here’s a few pics of Weil:

Wine fair in Basle

I nearly didn’t go this time but the people I was due to go with had other plans. But I went anyway all the same.

Anyway, this year’s fair was dominated by lovely Austrian white wines. Lots of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling to try. And the St Laurent red variety too.

After a while, I got round to the stand of “Wii am Rhy”, a fairly new wine shop situated in Kleinbasel. Tasted a nice white from the Pfalz, the 2005 Steinacker Riesling by Weingut Leiningerhof - very tropical and luscious.

PS: Silvia Benzinger of Weingut Leiningerhof was the Deutsche Weinkönigin 2005/2006. The girl at the stand said that Silvia would have attended the fair, but had to cancel at short notice. Gah!


Weil now has a new attraction. An indoor golf centre called "Greenpoint" opened at the beginning of October, and I tried it out yesterday.

I arrived to find I was the only one there - on a Sat morning - so there isn't much word on the street about it yet. The actual facilities were quite impressive: landscaped with an artificial grass surface, with a small pond with a trickling fountain in the middle, a practice green, a bunker, sound effects of twittering birds, plus there was also a netted area for practicing.

It's main attraction though is the simulator where you can "play" the famous golf courses of the world. Herr Banholzer, the retired-looking gentleman who runs the complex, invited me to have a try on it. He loaded up the Old Course at St Andrews for me, and I found myself playing the Road Hole first. You just tee the ball up and let rip. The sensor does the rest, measuring the scientific aspects such as velocity, angle of club approach on the down-swing, etc. My tee shot was a cracker! Second shot landed in Hell Bunker, then I bailed out..... on to the asphalt at the back. Anyway, up to four people can play on it, and it costs EUR 33 for an hour. For extra EUR 10, you can subsequently have your swing analysed on the adjacent simulator. To begin with though, I just paid a tenner for 60 balls for the "driving range".

The new centre has a website, albeit one that's still "in construction":

Sunday, 22 October 2006


Was at Europapark yesterday. Went on the Silver Star, good fun.

Day 4

Just to prove that I did make it to the end and that this hasn't all been photo-shopped...

An unremarkable road sign, but it marks the end of the Markgräfler Wiiwegli and the finishing line of my journey.

Friday, 20 October 2006

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Markgräfler Wiiwegli

Bit of a break from this blog for a good while. Sorry about the delay, I know you’re all on tenterhooks…

I was on two-week holiday, among other things. Had a lovely time. Went home to see family, then went on a four-day hike (from 8 to 11 October) along the “Markgräfler Wiiwegli (Weinweg)” from Weil to Freiburg, thus completing a trek I’d been wanting to do for a good few years.

The Markgräfler Wiiwegli is a 78-km sign-posted path leading from Weil to Freiburg. It goes through some of the loveliest wine country you’ll ever want to see and also delves occasionally into the Black Forest.

Anyway, I walked the length of it over four days. Here's a brief chronicle of the journey:

Day 1
Start the day (a glorious sunny Sunday morning) in Weil-Ost, where I begin my walk. Beautiful views and smells await: harvest is in full swing and the vineyards reak (pleasantly) of wild yeasts in the air. After a scorching July, tempered by a rainy and cool August, September was unsually warm and wet. By that time, the grapes were well ripened. The warmth and the rain in September, however, caused them to split and, consequently, rot. This is when winemakers need to act quick to save their year's work. Various harvesting teams were out that Sunday hand-picking (main red Spätburgunder grapes).

Five hours later, I eventually got to the end of the first day's walk in Blansingen, where friends Pete and Nicole kindly put me up for the night.

Day 2
An evening of Neuer Wein (Sauser), proper wine, beer and schnaps took it's toll that Monday morning - another lovely cloudless and warm day. After a slight rigmarole with a blister on my left foot, I eventually departed at midday and set off for Müllheim, the next evening's stop.

Everything was going swimmingly with pretty views of the Rhine and the Vosges and me starting to shake off the hangover when disaster struck. Just north of Bad Bellingen I decided to have a short sit-down on a bench in the middle of a field and enjoy the view. The problem was that I left my non-digital camera on said bench and didn't realise I'd done so until around 40 minutes later as I was approaching Schliengen. Bugger. Virtually ran back to the bench but the camera was gone. Bugger. Some passers-by however said I should go back down to Bad Bellingen town hall in case someone had handed it in. I followed their advice, and, hey presto, some honest soul had indeed handed it in!

Subsequently decided to quit while I was winning (I was knackered already) and went back to Weil to sleep.

Day 3
To make up for not reaching Müllheim the day before, I planned to take the early train back to Bad Bellingen and then continue where I'd left off, though not just to Müllheim but to the third stop: Staufen. What a day! I reached my destination over 7 and a half hours later, knackered but extremely satisfied. Another glorious day, if somewhat hazy. The main stretch between Müllheim and Staufen, in particular, took in all the best that Markgräflerland has to offer: vines, Black Forest, cosy villages, the feeling that time had stood still.

So, I got to Staufen, where I stayed at the Gasthaus und Hotel zum Hirschen. After an evening meal at the Kornhaus, I retired for the night and hit the sack at 9.30pm.

Day 4
The last gasp. Well, not quite. Wasn't going to Mordor, or anything, but it felt like it somehow. Another sunny start, but it was one of those inversion weather days when there's pea-soup down in the Rhine valley. Firstly flirted with the Black Forest again, then eventually reached the village of Ehrenstetten where it was suddenly foggy, though still mild. Visibility was barely 50 metres, and I subsequently almost got lost on a vineyard between Kirchhofen and Ebringen (see link to map below). Eventually found my way though and after about five hours and a wrong turnng into the woods south of Freiburg, I finally made it to the finishing post. Was expecting some sort of sign saying that "this is the beginning/end of the Markgräfler Wiiwegli", but all I saw was a sign with the distance in kilometres to Staufen where I'd come from, plus an Eiscafe across the street. Had a "Rothaus Tannenzäpfle" beer there and a Stracciatella, then got the train home.

Some photos in my next entry..