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Published: October 21st 2017
Sunrise from my hotel room
Not a bad way to start the day!
Friday morning I spent finishing up the last blog and then had a nap. So I didn’t head out to Colmar until the early afternoon. I managed to figure out how to stop the gps from taking me onto the motorway all the time, which was nice, but it still wasn’t happy when I drove to Colmar following the Route des Vins. I’m sure if somebody else was driving, the Route des Vins would be a very different experience, but as I could not drink my way down the road, I had to be satisfied with an enjoyable drive through lots and lots of vineyards. It’s tough, I know, but somebody has to do it.
I arrived in Colmar with little plan about seeing anything in particular. I only really knew that it was a picturesque town where I would be able to take some nice photos. My plan was to just wander and see what I found.
I parked near an area known as Petite Venise, or Little Venice. There is a canal passing through and you can go for boat rides up and down it. I didn’t though, but after arriving and taking a few photos and
walking a bit, taking a few more photos, walking a bit more and then taking some more photos, I realised I was taking photos of the same people in the same boat! They weren’t kidding when they called it petite!
Leaving the canal, I bought a sandwich and sat down to listen to an accordion-playing busker. I don’t love the accordion especially, but it seemed like a pretty French moment, so I gave him a couple of euros. I then wandered around some more, taking photos of the lovely buildings. The town is as picturesque as I expected, but it is also far more touristy than I would have liked. I guess that’s the problem with travel being so common nowadays, and I shouldn’t complain because it is the same ease that allows me to travel as well.
So with my two hours of parking just about up, I headed out of town towards my hotel. One more sight awaited me before I left Colmar, however. Colmar is also the hometown of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the guy who designed the statue of liberty. On the road out of Colmar (and the road in if you come that way,
I guess) there is a roundabout with a mini-version of the statue. I’ve not seen the real thing, but I have seen another one in Las Vegas. I should probably visit the real one at some point. No photo, however, because of the driving thing. I headed back to the hotel for another sumptuous French dinner and an early night.
I woke up in the morning a little later than I expected, but still in time to catch the beautiful sunrise. It was the clouds rolling in that made it so, which gave an indication of how the day would pan out. Fortunately, the hotel serves breakfast later on the weekends, so I had not missed it.
I then headed out to visit Strasbourg. I was in two minds about when to visit Strasbourg, but ended up deciding on the weekend rather than a weekday because I thought at least the traffic should be lessened. I have no idea about when the European parliament sits, but I figured they’re politicians, so it wouldn’t be a Saturday! I’ve read that can cause a bit of chaos there.
My guess seemed to be correct and the drive to Strasbourg
had none of the traffic I encountered on my way to Verdun. This may have also been because I was avoiding the motorway. Anyway, about midday I reached the parking garage I had picked as the most likely to have free spaces, that wasn’t too far from the centre. I then realised I only had my guidebook as a map, so my first target was the tourist information centre to get a map.
The guidebook said there was one at the main train station, and as I had just passed there driving into town, I walked back there. The train station was quite nice, but there is no tourist information centre there. A lady at the station information booth told me it was in the city centre, which was, of course, back in the other direction.
Fortunately, the city centre was pretty easy to find, and nowhere near as large as it looked on the map in the book. It was plenty crowded with tourists though and the NOFX song “Thank God It’s Monday” came to mind. Oh well, most of them were more interested in the shops than anything else. I found the tourist information centre and
had to purchase a map. Possibly not the best value for money as I only had two destinations, but I guess it did help me get back to the car without having to retrace my steps.
Anyway, my two destinations were the Musee Archeologique and the Musee Historique. My guidebook indicated the latter had Roman stuff but the map from the tourist information centre said it started from the middle ages. So I headed to the archaeological museum first, which is housed within the Palais Rohan with a couple of other museums. I was glad that the tickets to each museum are sold separately because I was not interested in the other two.
I was a bit annoyed at their bag policy, though. I was not allowed to wear my backpack on my back, which is fair enough because you could easily knock something over. However, because they don’t have any lockers or cloak room, it meant I had to carry it around in my hand or on my front. Having it on my front didn’t work as it made using my camera very difficult, so I carried it by hand. Annoying, but I got over it, eventually.
The first stop was an exhibition on the archaeology itself. Unfortunately, this was all in French, so I didn’t really get much from it. But it was only one room. The rest of the museum had panels with French, English and German, and there was an English audioguide too. This made the experience much better and I soon forgot about the difficulties.
The first couple of rooms were about pre-history, then a bronze-age room and a couple of rooms about the Celtic iron age. There wasn’t really much different between this and the museum at Trier, to be honest. But it’s still cool.
The good stuff came when I reached the Roman rooms. The Roman period probably accounted for 75% of the museum and there were some really interesting things on display. What I found most interesting was the focus on the Gallo-Roman culture that developed in Alsace under Roman occupation. General Roman stuff you can see in other museums, or in books and documentaries, but this was unique from my experience.
I read every panel and listened to almost all the audioguide. Lots of people were breezing their way through, which I enjoyed because there’s
nothing worse than getting caught up with other people in a museum and you always try to read the same things at the same time. I guess most of them must have bought the Strasbourg museum pass or something, because they obviously weren’t that interested.
The final couple of rooms covered the Merovingians that ruled Alsace after the Romans left and suddenly it was all over. The museum wasn’t all that big, really, but it was just on 4 o’clock so I had been thorough! I headed outside and found a toilet before deciding what to do next. I figured I could either sit down for a bit and have something to eat, or head to the historical museum. My stomach won because my feet had the casting vote, so I found a nice restaurant just off the main square and took a table. I was lucky too, because it was the last table under cover and before I had even ordered, the rain began. Quite a few people were turned away by the rudest waiter I’ve ever seen (it was actually quite funny to see him in action!) but it was a nice way to finish the visit
The rain was pretty light as I walked back to the car and then drove back to the hotel. It wasn’t too cold, but looking at the forecast ahead, I think I’m in for a couple of cold and rainy days. I might even have to think about wearing a jacket! Well, it is that time of the year, I suppose, and I was probably lucky to get over a week of sunshine up to now.
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