Randolph had Monday off this week, so it was a good chance to take a little 3-day trip. We settled on Strasbourg, since the drive is under 2 hours, with a day in Colmar. So, we booked an Airbnb, filled up the car, and off we went! OK, it wasn’t quite like that…
On Friday night Randolph and some of his coworkers had volunteered to work an overnight anti-drunk driving ride service. I went along for moral support/to keep Randolph awake and entertained. The time actually passed pretty quickly since the home base of the program had comfy couches and a big TV (with Netflix). We were there til 2:30 am and then scurried home to sleep as much as possible before heading to France in the morning. So, we were heading to France a bit tired but well-caffeinated.
After checking into our Airbnb we walked into the center of the city. We quickly discovered that there was a really cool Easter Market going on. Europeans sure do like their holiday markets – and so do I! Who doesn’t like the chance to fill up on local treats and check out the local wares?
We were pretty hungry by this point and had been looking for someplace to eat when we found the market. When we saw a food stand with a line (it must be good, right?) we immediately jumped in line. It didn’t disappoint. Salmon Tart + Mushroom Tart + Quiche Lorraine + Blueberry Tart = happy travelers. A good start to the weekend!
While we were waiting in line Randolph discovered a nearby pen with three chickens. He was very excited, to say the least. After lunch he made friends with some of them by feeding them hay. They were very skeptical of the weird guy paying attention to them.
Now that we were fed we were ready to continue exploring. We walked by a cheese shop with the same giant wheels as the stand pictured above. A picture for cheese-size context:
We slowly wandered our way to the city’s cathedral, Notre Dame de Strasbourg. At a glance, it’s very similar in style (on the outside) to Notre Dame de Paris, with the biggest difference being the color. This one is built of a gorgeous reddish stone. We both agreed that this Notre Dame was more beautiful.
Another thing that I really love about this one (vs in Paris) is that it’s right in the middle of everything. You’re just minding your own business walking through downtown Strasbourg and then you come to an intersection and turn your head and BAM, there’s this gorgeous, imposing cathedral staring at you.
We continued to walk around the city until we headed over to Fink’Stuebel for dinner. The restaurant had been suggested in a NY Times travel article and I’m glad we made it there. They serve traditional Alsatian food in a cute, quaint restaurant. We left very full and very happy (sorry – no pictures from there).
Sunday was the day we reserved for driving to Colmar, slightly farther south than Strasbourg. When I was doing my research for the trip I found multiple mentions of a castle along the way to Colmar. It looked cool, so I added it to the itinerary. When Sunday morning rolled around we realized we should have bought something the day before for breakfast since nothing was open early on a Sunday. We hit the road with (very) empty stomachs. We were so hungry we almost skipped the castle just so we could hurry up and get to Colmar to find food. Fortunately for us, there was a rest stop on the highway right near the castle. You could even see the castle from there, waaaaaay up high at the top of a mountain. We made a quick stop at the rest stop for food and then decided to revert back to the original plan and go to the castle. Boy, were we glad we did! The first indication that we were in for something awesome was the absolutely adorable little town we drove through along the way (Sainte Hippolyte) and the fields of grapevines (this was Alsatian wine country). We looped our way up the mountain, along the road winding through the forest. The castle, Haut Koenigsbourg, was well worth the detour!
The castle was very beautiful and quite big and it was a nice, sunny day – perfect for looking out over the surrounding countryside.
Next, we hopped back into the car and continued on to Colmar. We spent the afternoon exploring the cute little city, especially the areas with colorful houses. They were so beautiful and were the perfect place to enjoy the first day of spring! We also found some wine shops that were open, so we picked up a couple bottles of Alsatian wine (one was opened that night, the other is now on our wine rack).
Eventually we ran out of things to do (Sundays will do that to you in Europe) and we were too tired to keep walking, so it was time to head back to Strasbourg. We decided on a Japanese restaurant, Sushido, for dinner, but since they didn’t open til 7 we walked by our new favorite cathedral again.
We didn’t have a ton of time on Monday, since we needed to make it back home in time for our German classes. We made a few stops in Strasboug to make some purchases and then set the GPS to take us to Cora, the French grocery store our friends here have been raving about. To put it into perspective, this is JUST the Camembert section of the cheese aisle:
Needless to say, we left with cheeses, as well as salami, wines, and bread. I’m looking forward to trying them tonight!
Athens in a few weeks (!!!) and then the Netherlands immediately after that (tulips!).