· WARNING · If you aren't particularly fond of half-timbered houses, this is your notice that you'll get bored quickly. For all the rest of you- these towns are a must-see! ;-)
Our second area to stay and explore was the Alsace region of France- right over the border from Germany. Actually, both sides of our family have strong ties to the area, but that wasn't the reason to add it to the itinerary... these towns were really just too cute to pass up. ;-)
Our first day in the area took us from Traben-Trarbach down to Strasbourg. The scenery was lovely along the way, although I will confess that I spent part of the ride attempting to shake off the last lingerings of jet lag. ;-) Our goal was to make it in time for the church service at the Cathedral and when we pulled into the center of town as the clock was striking the hour, I'll admit that I considered it a hopeless cause. However, it's a jolly good thing that the bells ring for 10 minutes, as that gave us just enough time to find an underground parking garage, pick a spot, grab a few things from the car, and scurry into the cathedral! Whew!
The Cathedral is celebrating its 1,000th anniversary this year! We were able to take photos just after the service, and I managed to grab a few slightly blurry pics in the darkness before the security guards hustled everyone out. ;-) While I was taking photos, a couple came up to talk to me and started talking fluent French- my German is non-existent, but I think my French is even worse... I quickly told them I only spoke English at which point a wave of relief washed over their faces, "Oh good! We're Canadian!". I think we were all glad to converse in our natural language!
The Cathedral has the distinction of having been the tallest building in the world for over 200 years!!
We were so fortunate that our itinerary coincided with the one day a month that every museum in Strasbourg is free! We took advantage of the moment and climbed up to the top of the cathedral. I love the opportunity it provides to see the architecture up close and to marvel at all the detail.
And there were stunning views from the top! Oh, and pardon my hilariously bad attempt at a panorama shot... I'm used to my mom developing physical photos and arranging them in a scrapbook- somehow I didn't realize how very much more difficult it would be to do digitally!
I attempted to get a shot of the whole cathedral, but.... it's tall. And before I had a chance to try again, an older gentleman wondered if I didn't want to have my picture taken? Well, not particularly, but.... whatever. Apparently the spire was too tall for him, too. ;-) And yeah, I have no idea why I'm standing crooked. But hey! It's actual proof I was in Europe! ;-)
The rest of the town was chock full of charming old buildings! It was so enjoyable to just wander around and revel in the atmosphere and the beautiful weather.
We had our typical bread-and-cheese lunch in the town square- and even had prime seats to watch the swing dancing group that came by!
My request for the day was to stop at one of the many cute little cafes for a coffee that afternoon. While we were there, I wanted to get a picture with Gretel, and it was such a comedy of errors that I had to save all the failed attempts just for the memories. ;-)
Here we have Exhibit A- a lovely photo. Except for the fact that the subjects are completely out of focus.
Exhibit B- Second attempt. Looks suspiciously like everyone thought Dad was going to be in the photo, except the photographer, so only his arm remains in shot. As well as the whole shot being crooked.
Exhibit C- Overall an acceptable shot, except the composition leaves a little to be desired....
.... And here we go! 4th time's the charm! Worth the wait though, I think. ;-)
Another museum stop that we made was the Palais Rohan. No, nothing to do with Tolkien, however it was a gorgeous museum and well worth the time!!
The main level had many restored rooms- this one was my favorite. Seems like the ideal setting for a ball, don't you think?!
Aaand, I do love Empire style furniture as well.... ;-)
The Ill River
Our final destination for the day and our home for the next few days was Colmar, France- actually you can see our building on the far left of this photo- the top floor and a half were ours! :-)
Staying right in the center of town worked out wonderfully. We could spend the time just leisurely wandering the town, discovering all the winding roads and enjoying the non-touristy times. We could see a butcher, baker, and grocer right from our window, too!
The canals run throughout town....
And half-timbered houses are almost a requirement!
Funny little crooked roof! And.... pastries!
This town just oozes charm!
We could see the cathedral from our window and we loved how it even has a stork nest! We're huge Playmobil fans, and this whole town looked like it could be straight out of their catalog- even down to stork nests. ;-)
Hearing church bells throughout the day was one of my favorite aspects of the trip- we were fortunate to have nearby bells almost every place we stayed. I loved it! :-)
A few of the buildings in town had lovely tile roofs.
Ready for an even worse panorama shot? Heehee... ;-) I'm sure there is a program out there somewhere that makes this easier, but it's just not that high on the list of things to do! ;-)
This is the view from our window! Charming!
Well, there we go for our third installment! My life has been craaaaazy since getting back from this trip, so I wasn't able to compile all these posts ahead of time like I normally do so that I could have them all scheduled and auto-published like usual. Ah well, that's life! :-) I'd love to get the rest of these posts up soon- next is Switzerland, and let me tell you.... it was like a fairytale!!