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Creux du Van Hike and Darmstadt

The super-long weekend started with some very wet weather, so in defiance you went wet-hiking along Creux du Van in Jura. The rest of the weekend was spent in Darmstadt visiting Maren. Darmstadt translates literally to 'colon city'; a fact which even she jokes about.

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Creux du Van Hike with Grég

You're been getting good at making bread lately. Less tied to your baking machine, you've moved on to doing it by hand and throwing it in the oven. More recently you've been attempting flat wrap bread for hiking which, by most accounts, has been pretty successful. That said, there have been some beetroot spillages.

Low hanging clouds in the valley, and no view whatsoever from above

With wraps ready, you began the four-day super-long weekend with Grég in Jura. The plan was to screw the wet weather and go for a wet hike along the Creux du Van. The train ride took about two hours and there was lots of space since everyone stayed home due to rain. You crossed the Röstigraben and everything suddenly felt more french. The hike ascended seventeen zigzags up a hill (the bends weere numbered) until reaching the crest and seeing nothing but clouds. Wow - what a view.

A herd of wild steinbocks, and a big rift of snow left over from Winter

You headed along the rim along a wet, slippery path with no obvious safety rail to keep you from falling the few hundred meters into the bowl. The farmland bounding the crater was lined with a stone wall. Grég commented about the return on investment, considering how many sheep and goats would have to be lost falling off the cliff compared to the cost of building such a wall. You concluded the few hundred years it would stand would probably pay itself off.

Past some snow rifts left behind by Winter, you found a herd of Steinbocks docilely grazing on an open grassy area. The let you walk right up to them if you moved slowly. You watched them knocking horns a few times then moved on.

Loving embrace with a boulder, and a sidetrack through the woods

The trail went through various farms and forrest areas, and then began descending towards the lake. At one point it got too boring so you took a shortcut directly down the steep bit. It turned out for the best, even with all the slippery bits, with some random nice views and pretty forrest. Grég thought it even good enough to whip out his lomo camera for an exposure (just one). Grég also found a pretty-looking boulder on one hillside which he just had to touch.

Upon exiting the forrest Grég's new smartphone told him you had fifteen minuted to walk to the train station, which was "just up ahead". Just up ahead meant jogging in stiff, heavy hiking boots down windy roads, crossing a river, and then jog up the other side. You did make it to Boudry station in the end before the train, but you joke about the station's name was obviously too clever for your companion: "Boudry is an ironic name considering the weather today". Tough crowd...

Visiting Maren in Darmstadt

The next afternoon Meike and you started your train journey towards Darmstadt. There was a little hiccup in the beginning when you both forgot Maren's present (an English mint plant) and you had to run home to get it. Luckily there was another connection via Schaffhausen. No changes and four hours later you made it to Darmstadt - a small town just outside Frankfurt.

Maren met you at the station and you all walked to her apartment - an two bedroom, open kitchen place with old wooden flooring and lots of charm. She'd done the place up quite nicely.

View from the window, and Darmstadt city market with a balcony cow

Darmstadt vehicle license plates all start with DA, so today's game during your bike tour of Darmstadt was searching for DAMN and DAFT. The three of you started with a visit to the market for food, where you froze your tits off in the unseasonal cold. The early season local strawberries were a bit expensive. It seems silly that a small punnet of semi-ripe early strawberries sell for more than a bucket of ripe mid-season ones. The bloke manning the stall suggested coming back in a week for better, sweeter ones. For some unknown reason, on a balcony in the city square stood a cow.

Outside the Hundardwasser House, and the Wedding Tower

After shopping you returned for tea and some Wheeties Digestives chocolate biscuits, which Maren had smuggled from Glasgow. They were a year past their use by date but were still good. Moving on, you visited the park and then rode up a hill to the Wedding Tower which looks just like a middle finger. Then on to a roseless rose garden and then back past the uni and home. That evening Maren cracked out her Scottish Quest game. She knew the answers to about 1% of the Scotland questions, while you just took the 1/3 chance and guessed. The lucky cards all seemed very unlucky; most had you loose money or QUEST letters. For example: "While camping, a midget bites you on the eyebrow." or "Your romance with the US exchange student comes to an end when they return home. Feel sorry for yourself and loose a turn."

Sunday you went for a wine tour / hike from Bensheim to Heppenheim. You had fallen victim to an annoying little cold, so were drugged up on painkillers and not especially energetic. After making a strawberry crêpe breakfast, you and Meike set to adding some colour to Maren's blackboard. It was mini game of pictionary, with Meike drawing a flour and you drawing a lamp - since she had so many unique lights, you thought she could use another one. Since everyone decided your lamp looked just like an elephant's head, you added legs and had him water Meike's flour.

Wine hike map, and walking through a vineyard

It was a really nice sunny day for a stroll but the wine route was strewn with empty bottles along it windy, almost drunken, path through the vineyards. Some people had obviously taken wine tour more literally than others. The walk ended in Heppenheim at the Hessische Staatsweingüter, where you sat in the sun and put on some god-awful suncream which refused to rub-in. You did some wine tasting. Then some more wine tasting. Then needed a little sit down.

A giant mouse driving a convertible, and wine tasting

On the was to the train Maren given a bunch of flowers from a random drunk bloke with a Polish accent. She was happy but got a nasty coughing fit after smelling them. You had an icecream while waiting for the train, then wandered through Heppenheim where you found a knitted bike. Either Heppenheim has lots of hipsters or it was advertising for a knitting shop.

Worms is a place apparently, and a fully knitted bike

Traveling back to Zürich by train would take a few hours, so the day started at 4:30am. Taxis, busses and trains took a good five hours to get you home but were comfortable enough for napping. The stretch from Basel to Zürich on the TGV was tightly packed with coffee- and tobacco-smelling commuters. Everyone had a blank going-to-work face and no one spoke, appart from the two people already in telephone conference for the the whole damn trip. Upon arrival the doors got stuck and you all had to shuffle through the dining wagon to get out.