After a leisurely morning reading the election results from the U.S., the lovely Robin and I headed out for a drive through the Alsatian countryside.

We saw more countryside than we expected. The directions on my iPad, downloaded the night before, took us on a route off A35, but that road was blocked. So we tried to find our way around it and ended up in some very nice country--where a single rider on horseback, a woman who spoke no English, nonetheless managed to give us directions through the town of Duppigheim and back onto A35, which (contrary to the e-map) we never had to leave to begin with!

On the way there, we passed Chateau Haut-Koenigsburg (High King’s Castle), first built in the 12th Century on a strategic hill in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat with a spectacular view of the Alsace valley, a view that reaches all the way to the Rhine River which now separates France from Germany. Castle Haut Koenigsbourg was formerly a possession of Germany under the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire. The original castle was attacked and burned in 1462, rebuilt and abandoned again after the Thirty Years War. It remained empty and overgrown by the forest for a few hundred years, but is now a popular tourist attraction.

After driving through Chatenois, Val-de-Ville, Liepvre, and passing by St.-Croix-Aux-Mines and Saint Blaise, we arrived in the town of Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines, the one locale in which we know with confidence our ancestor Jakob Hochstetler once lived.

It was much larger than I had expected, with block upon block of shops and restaurants, and at least four churches (I'll blog about these on the Desperate Pastor blog)...though at least two of them seemed to have long been shuttered.

The Catholic church of Sainte Madeline, however, is clearly active (I slipped inside and, though it was dark inside, took some nice photos which I will share on the Desperate Pastor blog). It was built in 1747, so our ancestor would not have known this structure (though possibly some of the people who built it). Like the cathedral in Strasbourg, however, this church and its leaders would have represented noxious things to Jakob and his family.

This building, however (above) would have certainly been known to our ancestor, built as it was in 1596. Today it is the hotel and restaurant Wistub or Winstub (both spellings appear on the building's walls).

Through the center of town runs a stream, bordered closely on both sides by the homes and shops of the town.

We had considered eating dinner in St. Marie, but none of the three eateries we tried were ready to serve us at 5:15, so we got back on the road and returned to Strasbourg in just over an hour.

By 7, we were seated at Creperie la Bolee de Cidre on Rue du Fosse des Tanneurs, where we had crepes and galettes in this tiny establishment with seating for 20 (though there seemed to be seating downstairs, too, but we didn't get to see it).

It is such a privilege for me to have walked the streets that my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather walked, and to get a firsthand feel for the beautiful countryside he and his family were forced to leave because of their faith--probably at a high price and with great sadness.

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