Jul 2, 2012

Alsace Christmas Markets - December 2011

Christmas Markets – here we come!  This is my 1st time to the Christmas markets & I can’t wait! Also my 1st trip with AWBS (American Women Berkshire & Surrey).

Day 1 - We flew into Basel, Switzerland which is located at the meeting point of France & Germany (you can see all 3 countries at the same time).  Our 1st stop was Kayserberg, a small Alsatian town with timber framed buildings.  They were all decked out with Christmas decorations.  One interesting thing is that they have storks nesting on top of their buildings.  We spent most of the time shopping but did stop for lunch.  I went for the Flammekueche  - the menu wasn’t in English, so I kept my fingers crossed. I was rewarded with something that looked like pizza with no sauce.    I wish we would have had more time in Kayserberg – I would definitely go back.  Our next stop was Riquewihr, another tiny village with a 16th century vintner’s house.  I guess this region is known for its Riesling wine – we did a little wine tasting & a little shopping.  I bought some glass ornaments that were etched while I watched & waited – very cool!  After a long day, we jumped in the bus to head to Strasbourg, where we would be staying.  We had 7:30 pm reservations for dinner – unfortunately, we didn’t make those reservations. We are driving down the highway on the bus, having a good time – talking about all the goodies we just bought.  When all of a sudden the bus comes to a screeching halt – we had taken an exit & were going through an underpass BUT the bus did not fit!  The screeching noise was the hood of the bus getting jammed under the concrete bridge.  The bus driver yells “everyone out – don’t grab anything, just go!”, the top of the bus has the air conditioning unit & wiring – he was afraid it would start on fire.  So – out we go, into the very cold, very dark night and of course, it starts raining.   At 1st it was exciting – something to write about in our blogs but after 45 minutes of huddling together under the bridge, we decided this was lame.  Thankfully, after another 30 minutes another bus arrives to pick us up & take us to our hotel.   At this point, we had missed our dinner reservation.  Some of the ladies walked into town & grabbed a sandwich – I just called it a night.

Day 2 – We started with a walking tour of Strasbourg.  It’s an interesting place; it was French & then German & then French again.  So there are influences from both countries.  It was beautifully decorated, they even had Baccarat crystal chandeliers hanging between the streets.   We saw a Romanesque Gothic Cathedral built during the 12th – 15th centuries.  It’s pretty amazing! We stopped in to hear the choir sing – there are beautiful tapestries hanging along the walls.  It’s very cold inside & we don’t stay long.  Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg for some time, so there are some statues of him.  We stood in the courtyard of the Palace Rohan & heard about all the scandals that went on.    We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping – I bought gingerbread that was beautifully decorated & porcelain candle holders (dome shaped with Christmas scenes) & some Christmas tree napkin rings.  That night we went to dinner – I have no idea where.  They said it was a French restaurant but the person next to me had a plate of meat with a side of meat – looked German (just saying).  My favorite thing – Pretzel bread!  Oh my word – I could just eat that, it was so good!!  How have I never had this before – loved it!  I would go back just to eat this again J

Day 3 – We spend most of the morning in Colmar, it’s a beautiful place with picturesque houses & bridges.  Lots of shopping & food - I found a tea shop!  There is a gothic church there (St Martin’s) – it was built in the 1200’s.  I spent a lot of time wandering around & people watching – eating pretzels (that are so good!)  Our last stop before we left was Obernai – which sits at the foot of Mount Ste-Odile, it’s an old imperial city.  They had a live nativity set.  David our guide took a couple of us to the town hall where we got to taste a lot of different things.  It was a nice way to end our trip.

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