Monday, July 30, 2012

A Mess in Metz But Calm in Colmar

The plan was to head on Saturday morning to Metz to tour around a bit before heading to Colmar...but Metz was a mess. They had a market that day right in front of the Cathedral. And not the kind of market with touristy stuff. The kind with clothes. And mattresses. And lots and lots of people.

Add to that our "upgraded" rental tank and a teensy parking garage, and we were just not in the mood to stay there long. So we snapped a few pics of St. Stephen's Cathedral and headed out.

Our other original plan had been to stay in Thann, at the southernmost town on the Wine Route, and then head north and stay two nights in Colmar, towards the center of the route. But realizing how close together these towns actually were, we decided to stay three nights in Colmar instead. Points if you know why I snapped the picture below.

Good decision. We had a great room at the Hotel Colombier in Colmar's Petit Venice, right on one of the canals. The picture below if from the garden off of our room...if you look closely, you can see a white cat in the doorway.

We had dinner that first night at a little Wistub, where I had a traditional Alsacian dish called Choucroute. And the tables are such that they may sit someone with you who you don't know. So we spent dinner with Ots, a guy from Holland who had just retired and was walking from his home country to Basil, Switzerland. He had been at it for seven weeks.

Sunday was a lazy day around Colmar. The town is beautiful, and has really inspired me to start drawing again. I really understand why artists sit around in plazas of places like this and draw what they see. How could you not be inspired? I took tons of pictures from our little walking tour around the town to get me started!

On Monday, we headed to Thann to start the Wine Route. We had no particular place we wanted to see...we just took the back roads and stopped occasionally to take pictures. When we hit the town of Cernacy, my wife decided to head up to the Grand Ballon, the highest point in the Vosges. The Ballon is basically a radar station. You can actually see the Alps from there. The hike to the top was nice but the wind was frighteningly strong and I was not properly dressed for a hike (because, you know, I thought we were going to be visiting wineries...I was wearing a polo and a fleece). Needless to say, I thought I was going to freeze to death.

After the hike, we had some lunch and headed on, stopping at a winery to test the wines. I found I really like the Alsacian Gewurtztraminer (or something like that), and we bought four bottles (word of warning...apparently wines count as liquids when going through airport I nearly lost two of our bottles...more on that in another post).

We also spotted a stork in her nest, clacking her beak at her mate. The stork is the symbol of the Alsace...they were nearly extinct before an active breeding program created a healthy year-round population there.

We got back to Colmar in time for dinner and for my wife to prove once again that she has no gaydar. Two men from Switzerland sat next to us. I knew immediately they were a couple and in the course of chatting, I let them know that we lived together. My wife worried about me "outing" her. But a little context: They were travelling together with their dog, who was eight and who they had owned since she was 10 weeks old. They ordered one meal to share. They poured wine for each other and one swapped glasses with each other towards the end because he felt he had had too much. They smiled and commented to each other about the rainbow logo on my fleece...and here is the kicker...they whispered in German to each other about the cute male waiter. But my wife missed all that and wondered why they had asked if we lived together if they were also a couple. I told her they likely assumed two government employees had to be closeted.

One funny note...he asked what wine I liked and I said white. I had already told him about my granddad's family being from the Alsace, so he said, "of course you like whites. You are French. You are more French than this place!"

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