I’m so sorry I’ve been absent these past few weeks. There will probably be an update a day to try and catch up.
I’ve been on a few adventures as of late, France, and Manchester, and two castles, oh my – each with their own unique spell and impact on my life.
France was never a place I had ever intended on visiting and yet I have found myself in the beauty and overwhelming company of it’s vineyard cover countryside twice now.
My bus pulled into Place de l’étoile exactly a month after my first visit. It’s fun to say, I practice – you should try it. All together now, “Place de l’étoile.” See and now you are smiling! It was a bit later than expected as seems to be the case with FlixBus here, but I guess so my expectations should be when traveling comes so cheap.
My friend met me at the station and due to the late nature of my transportation we drove for just a short while before heading to his home. On the way, we had a moment to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets to be found anywhere.
We were greeted on the steps of his home by his father. His family speaks many languages and I wasn’t quite sure how to greet them. I think I greeted his dad in German, Mom in French, (Which is backwards because his dad is French and mom is German,) and then spoke English the rest of the time but that’s ok – or so I would be reassured.
Dinner was probably the most entertaining meal I’ve had since arriving in Europe. We had crêpes-I mean real French crêpes… I was /only slightly/ giddy and desperately tried to hide it but y’all know how excited we get about our food in the south – I mean it’s basically a religion… you know there comes year-long bragging rights with bringing the winning dish to the county fair or the church potluck.
There was a hot skillet in the middle of the table where we each carefully guided our batter to the perfect consistency and added cheese as we so pleased. They were delicious. Adorned simply with olives, onions, and pickles, those crêpes satisfied my empty American belly. That kind of food is the kind that touches the soul – the kind where you share life with others. I learned a bit about their culture and life and hopefully shared some with them as well. The night concluded in the best way possible – with dessert crêpes. Apples and Nutella – life doesn’t get much sweeter than moments like that.
The next day we would complete our own version of the Tour de France, casually stroll into Switzerland, and race to the finish line on the autobahn (*Note: not actually racing…just driving fast – as is LEGAL in Germany and slightly frightening to this law-abiding and slow-driving Alabamian.)
We began our day visiting a collection of small Alsatian villages. When I pictured France – whether through slightly misguided glimpses from Hollywood or through sample descriptive passages – this is what I pictured. Rolling hills covered with measured vineyards that marry small villages together with their woven woodwork. I’m afraid that, at times, I may not have been the best of company. I was stunned into silence at the beauty before me – a rare feat to be sure. And regrettably, I have no pictures to show of my own.
Our first stop was a beautiful tourist town called Riquewihr.
I was originally designated as the picture taker but that changed as I ended up just looking and not actually taking the time to “preserve” the moment. I was quickly (and graciously,) relinquished from that duty.
There were Christmas stores, pottery shops, intricate architecture, and so much character that the town seemed to be something that Walt Disney dreamed up instead of real life.
We headed south to Colmar. This city was determined to not let us eat. Everywhere we went, it seemed that the restaurant was full or closed or out of food but we smiled and just explored as we pleased. We entered on the bank of a quaint walkway without a plan or a map just enjoying the moment.
At this point, we still hadn’t eaten, hunger was taking over as my (our) primary emotion, and we were debating about trying to find a McDonald’s or just go to Switzerland. We chose to go to Switzerland – to which my excitement and joy just couldn’t be contained. I actually didn’t know we were going to Switzerland til that moment. Another country on my bucket list crossed off and at that moment we also decided to drive back through Germany which means I was in three countries in one day. Not many people have that opportunity. I am still blown away that you can cross into another country without having to show your passport or be stopped or questioned here in Europe. I mean good grief, when I came from Canada back into the States, Kinsey and I were nearly questioned to the 3rd degree and we are citizens. I mean obviously we look like terrifying human beings… not.
ANYWAY! My final day in France was spent at a castle… I mean what a way to end a visit! Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg was not what I expected at all but so much more. When I think of castles (probably thanks to Disney,) I think of the overly exaggerated draping and cosmetics. What I got was beautiful old stone that had aged with the wear and tear of being transferred from the French to the German and back again. What I got was a view for the ages. What I got was the character of the people who had once called this place home.
I have been beyond blessed to experience the Alsatian region of France twice now. It is overflowing with scenery worthy of royalty, history for the ages, and perfect for making memories to last a lifetime.
Mom is currently here with me in Germany and keeps asking how long this is going to be so I hope it wasn’t overwhelming! She says hello to everyone back home! It seems unreal that my time here (at least for this journey) will be over in a little more than three weeks.
Blessings to you all, as always!