Monday, September 10, 2007

Trying to Finnish me off

Abbey of Mulbach, where we started Sunday's hike. Had I known what I was in for, I might have popped in for word or two

I arbitrarily decided that this weekend was going to be my birthday weekend, and what a weekend it was. I don’t mean to brag, but it was one of those weekends that I vaguely fantasized about in those long, snow-fever months prior to moving here.

Saturday, Amynah and I walked to Kehl, Germany, about an hour away, in order to meet up with my French teacher and her husband. She’s Alsatian, he’s British. We were surprised to walk in to have a party in full swing, as they had also invited some Irish friends of theirs who work for the Council of Europe one of whom had, in turn, brought her Mum and sister. We sat around and drank a German rosé (very good, believe or not) and filling our gullets with a selection of homemade tartes (Amynah’s contribution was a tomato and olive concoction the recipe for which, if you like a good tarte, you should really get from her).

Afterwards we all wandered over to the Jardin de deux rives where the Strasbourg orchestra was holding a free concert. We sat off to the side of the stage, which threw off the acoustics, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, and not just because I found the conductor’s pronunciation of “Leonard Bernstein” hilarious (Vanessa Wagner of those Wagners, was the featured pianist. She was excellent).

Anyway, after the concert we returned to my teacher’s where the whisky soon made an appearance (I mentioned all the other guests were Irish, right?). We didn’t make it home until about 1 AM.

This was a bad move, as we had a date with destiny the next morning, destiny, in this case taking the form of that force of nature known as Sami the Finn.

Sami the Finn had suggested a hike in the Vosges, specifically the Grand Ballon, the highest peak in that not inconsiderable pack of hills. He had chosen a route that would start us pretty much at the bottom and, over the course of 22 km, take us one vertical kilometer and back (the peak is 1440 m, we started at about 350m).

At 700 m. Halfway there!

My camera ran out of batteries after I took about three pictures, so I never got a shot of the top. This is probably a good thing, as I was therefore unable to capture us at hour six, scavenging through the underbrush, desperate for nourishment, hands and faces stained a purplish hue as we shoved blackberries and blueberries into our slavering mouths.

Oh, the humanity.

We spotted these at roughly the same time my hunger had reached the point I caught myself saying to Sami "Yes, I know the red mushrooms are toxic. But how toxic, exactly?"

There are worse things than fresh air and gorging oneself on wild berries I suppose (like gorging oneself on fresh cheese and sausage in the restaurant 50 metres away from the site of our feeding frenzy, which also served those same berries in pie-form). Nonetheless, I am not ashamed to admit I wept like a baby this morning when I had to negotiate the four flights of stairs in my building after discovering my legs had been replaced overnight with those of an arthritic octogenarian.

1 comment:

Victor said...

Mark, your blog is the best ever! Really, we're laughing with you.