Living at the border of Switzerland, France, and Germany means that there is never a dull answer to the question “what do you want to do tonight?” We continued our yearly tradition of celebrating the new year with our dear friends Thorsten and Verena, but this year Elise discovered a torchlit forest hike to an Alsatian castle ruin where we toasted the arrival of midnight with champagne around a bonfire.
Fire plays a nostalgic and even romantic role in many fond memories. From sitting around the campfire with dad and my brother as a kid, to more recent memories such as when we enjoyed a torchlit hike through snow-covered vineyards on Christmas Eve years back, and enjoying the Carnival celebration in Liestal. This hike was equally enchanting and we were amazed at how many people turned out for the procession. The circuit was several kilometers around an old village and as we were nearly finished with the hike and were arriving at the castle, we could see a line of torches in the distance, winding their way up a then far-off hill at the very beginning of the trail.
The ruined castle dates from at least the tenth century and sits on a rocky peak about 600 meters (2000 feet) above the village making for an enchanting location for a new year’s celebration. We were treated to bonfires, live music, mulled wine, and champagne on our arrival. And though the wind was blowing and the rain was spitting, everyone cheered the arrival of 2018, punctuated by fireworks erupting overhead.
I can scarcely imagine a better way to celebrate a new year.