Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exploring Alsace

We topped off our Black Forest trip with a jaunt through Freiburg in southwest Germany followed by Colmar in the Alsace region of France before heading back to Brussels. We crammed all we could into this particular weekend!

Frieburg has the happy-go-lucky attitude of a thriving university community. There are cheerful mosaics in the sidewalks all over town. A diamond marks a jewelry shop, a cow is for a butcher, a pretzel for a baker and so on. We also had to be careful not to step in the Bachle, the permanently flowing troughs of water that run parallel to many footpaths. I think they were originally for delivering water and fire safety. But today they are big tourist traps.Freiburg is known for its ancient university and its medieval cathedral, as well as for its high standard of living and advanced environmental practices. The city is situated in the heart of a major wine-growing region and serves as the primary tourist entrepot to the scenic beauty of the Black Forest. According to meteorological statistics, the city is the sunniest and warmest in Germany. We were sure to visit Freiburg's Munster (church) which has been called 'the most beautiful in Christendom.' It was indeed gorgeous. I especially loved the colorful entrance. I think most of these cathedrals had painted detail like this lost over the year. The hues really created a unique pop! We ate a tasty lunch in Freiburg and Connor played.
I found this particular piece of equipment baffling. A spiral staircase leading to nowhere. It was good for Connor to practice her stair skills. She isn't winning any Oscars for her coordination and balance just yet!
Freiburg had a cheerful and welcoming vibe. If I was German I would love to attend university here. It made for a great stop. Actually wish we had more time there since there was a lot to do and some cute shops.
Colmar is in the Alsace region. The area was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1940, but reverted to France in 1945 at the end of World War II. It has remained a part of France since. Rick compares Alsace to a flower child referee between Germany and France. Bounded by the Rhine River on the east and the Vosges Mountains on the west, this is a green region of Hansel-and-Gretel villages, ambitious vineyards, and vibrant cities. Alsace has changed hands several times between Germany and France because of its location, natural wealth, naked vulnerability - and the fact that Germany considered the mountains as the natural border, while the French saw the Rhine as the dividing line.
I was immediately dazzled by Colmar's charm. It was a fairy tale city if there ever was one! Anytime there are full flowerboxes blooming in November I am impressed!We particularly wanted to see the Bartholdi Museum and the Unterlinden Musem, but wouldn't you know our visit on November 1 was All Saint's Day and one of only a few dates both were closed for the year. Boo!But no complaints from us. With more time to explore the area were able to ooh and aah around every magical corner. Colmar's Old Town was enormous and certainly did not disappoint!We decided we would make a priority to return to Colmar and the Alsace-Lorraine region of France before we go back to the USA. The museums we missed are supposed to be wonderful and we would love to explore the nearby town of Nancy too. This visit was just enough to wet our whistle!Click here for full album photos of Baden Baden, Black Forest, and Alsace France

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