Edit Blog Post
Published: February 28th 2012
Annecy and its mountainous surroundings, though so like home, could not hold me stationary for long and indeed I began to feel "antsy". (To get the joke, think on pronunciation.) And so off to...
Well that answer was rather difficult to decide. I wanted very badly to head towards Beaune and its nearby pilgrimage sight but somehow it seems pilgrims these days are expected to be rich and able to afford the fanciest of accommodations. Not falling beneath either category, it seems my steps were fated to take another direction.
And so I found myself in Colmar, a German jewel of a city, craftily covered in a French varnish in the Alsace region. I am an hour south of Strasbourg, an important EU center and close enough to pole-jump over into Germany. (Ok, not REALLY.)
With my blasted cold and its bacterial vehicles only poliferating in number (fancy way of saying I'm getting worse) I decided to forgo the hostel and holed up in a "chambre d'hôte" instead, complete with kitchenette and TV. I can cough and hack up as much phlegm as I like without any outside protests, and make as much soup as I want to
boot. To me, worth the price.
But enough about distasteful weaknesses of the human body and more about the beauties outside my window!
Colmar is quaint. It's the perfect word: short, small, and pronounced with a specification that gives it a character of its own. Though the entire city isn't small, the interesting part is. Cobblestoned streets (what else?) twist back and forth, leading you deeper into a world of pink, yellow, green, and blue...basically a rainbow of German cottages on steroids. Called half timbered because they consist of wooden upper floors built atop a stone foundation and with scaffolding that comes together in characteristic junctures that look like a man standing, these country-like residences have been expanded to three floors, wider at the top then on the bottom since building permits limit the amount of square footage and say nothing about the upper levels. Brasseries here boast both German and French names, their patrons a healthy mixture of both, and pretzels and sausage abound on every street. Two cathedrals rise up from this fairy tale village, their stone a mixture of jaundice yellow and blood red (disconcerting when the sun hits) to remind you that purification of
the soul is needed to sustain such free, relaxed living.
Strasbourg, the much larger neighbor to the north, is similar but modernized. Its old town hides fancier shops and the bars hold more Americans and Germans than they do locals, which, perhaps is only to be expected since the city is quite literally on the border between the latter two and the European Counsel of the EU is held here. The cathedral is the color of dried blood, giving off a much more somber feeling than its fellows in Colmar and rises like a giant from the center, its spires leading the faithful (and penitent) into its lofty, dark interior. Mass is given in a rotation of French, German, and English so that none have the excuse of not understanding.
After such a humbling experience, I thought I would take advantage of a relaxing canal boat ride around the old city. A tourist gimmick, the ride was still educational with an Irishman explaining everything I saw via headphones that I (sheepishly) turned to English. I blame this on my cold, not on the fact that the French would have been harder to keep up with. 😉 My Irish
guide and French captain took me through the old world of merchants and tanners, prisons and mansions, and on into the future via the EU Counsel headquarters. Near the end of the circuit, there was a lull in interesting buildings and a lack of "fun facts", which left children unoccupied and, as everyone knows an unoccupied child inevitably becomes a loud, impatient, obnoxious gremlin--(inhale calming breath, and yes gremlin)--which leaves the rest of us in a red internal fury just waiting for the boat to dock. So, note to anyone wanting to take the boat ride: bring ear plugs for the last 15 minutes or have your favorite bar already picked out for when the tour ends.
My last few days in Colmar have been allocated fully to getting over my cold, which despite powerful thoughts has chosen to linger. On the positive side, I have learned how to request medication at the pharmacy without too much embarrassment and have saved several euros by using my kitchen, though I might avoid pasta, soup, and eggs in the near future.
Tomorrow a new place awaits and in less than a week's time, I will be blessed with the company
of the most amazing, fantastic, and inspirational woman that I know: my mother. She and I will be enjoying all that Belgium, Amsterdam, and Italy have to offer, from chocolate and beer to wine and pasta. It should be a magnificent two weeks!
Much love to you all and, for good measure and to share the wealth, I send a great big sneeze your way!
Tot: 2.373s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 14; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0314s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb