Swapping Homes Anybody?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Across the Border: Strasbourg

... Except there is no real border anymore when you cross over from Germany into France, only a sign saying: “ You now entered France!"  and that the speed limit is 120 km/h on motorways and 90 km/h on national roads. Strasbourg is merely 50 minutes away from where we were staying in Baden- Baden and well worth a visit. In fact, Alsace is one of my favorite destinations for quick day visits. The best time to avoid huge crowds that are almost always present, is when summer school holidays are over in September. Truth be told that the month of October is indeed the best for gourmet travelers because the first fresh wines are available, all types of venison and mushrooms.

The whole region is well renowned and loved for its quaint, picturesque and medieval towns, dotted with timber framed houses which all seem to have an abundance of window boxes with flowers spilling out. Whether you drive to Riquewihr, Kaysersberg (birthplace of Albert Schweitzer), Obernai or Colmar ─ you are always in for a treat. The year before, our choice was Colmar, my all-time favorite, smaller than Strasbourg but with equally big crowds of tourists vying for sightseeing spots and restaurant tables.
Since my hubby had not seen the capital of the Alsace region and the seat of the European Parliament as well as the European Court of Human Rights. The city’s population has almost doubled in the last decade, with the greater urban area now comprising just under 1 million inhabitants.
The adjacent area to the northwest covers the magnificent natural park and mountain region of the “Vosges”, an ideal location for hikers, bikers and nature lovers. You will find fewer tourists there. I spent a whole week during my college years on a very isolated but romantic “gite”, i.e. a cottage.
We had tried to find home swapping partners on the French site, in vain. We almost made a deal, i.e. signed the exchange contract, when the French found out that it’s likely to be very hot in Florida in the month of August. Indeed. Though there are many picturesque towns of a similar nature on the German side of the border, the French has a more exotic feel to me, being German. And the food in the restaurants is different, even the baguettes are better…although a bit more expensive. Strasbourg, by the way, is very expensive territory with a normal iceream sundae I enjoy in Germany on a regular basis costing here almost twice as much.

With this being our last excursion of this year’s European stay, we enjoyed every minute in spite of the crowds, and we took plenty of photos. The weather was only glorious. We wished we could have stayed along the banks of the river Rhine which runs almost all the length of the border between the two countries. We brought home some regional delicacies like “foie gras” and wine. We skipped the pottery that is typical for this region, colorful stoneware, but just too heavy  to bring back on a plane. Hubby and I, both agreed that Colmar had a more intimate feel to it. But now we had “done” the entire Alsace.
All there was left to do after this excursion was pack up or numerous gigantic bags and clean the house we had spent 3 happy weeks in for our departure back to the US.

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