After leaving Geneva and working my way up past the Alps towards Germany, the country opened up and took on a completely different character. Less grand, more inviting, a friendly land bursting with crops. Vineyards became more and more frequent and along my left as I was driving, a mountain range stayed course with me. Its peaks dotted with castles and ancient towers. Quaint and pretty. As the sun started to lower in the sky , dipping everything into a golden light, I decided to pull off the highway and explore and stay the night. Crisp air, the smell of ripe fruit in the air. Silence except the sudden stately tolling of the bells from the village church. I was entranced. I could see the ripe clusters of gorgeous grapes glow from the vines and the farmers busy with harvest. Yes, it must be grape harvest time just about now. It made me smile to think of what great timing had brought me here, for that is a special time of year in wine country indeed. As I started to stroll through the town I saw the first signs of freshly picked grapes for sale. I bought a tray filled with heavy glistening clusters of two different types of grapes. These were wine grapes and I could see why. Eating them was an explosion of juice and sweetness. Never had I tasted grapes like this before. The individual grapes were so tightly placed together that it was easier to just bite into the whole bunch as if it was one big fruit. The weather was dramatic and autumnal: a restless scene change from golden sun to dark foreboding skies rupturing into heavy but brief downpours of rain. I jumped into the car and drove up the steep winding road to a particularly imposing castle lording from the mountainous peak above the town. It was the famous Haute Koenigsbourg, the ancient Hohe Koenigsburg of medieaval power. The sweet countryside lay at its feet like a somber glowing fabric of moist green velvet. Another storm brewed up and put on a dramatic display of light and sky. This little book contains impressions of my memorable stay in this lovely town St. Hippolyte in Alsace.
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