Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Paradise - Colmar, France

On Tuesday we woke up to it snowing outside. Once again te kids were elated and Liam reiterated that this time he would eat ALL of the snow. I wished him well knowing that later it was forecast to turn to rain. However in the meantime, I was slightly freaking out about having to drive in said snow. Yes I'm from New England and driving in the snow is par for the course, but I also happily left that small piece of my life behind 2 years ago. Though again, I will admit to being more in the spirit because of the snow.
Snow!!!  And Liam was happy to wear his "neck thing" (scarf) which he then spilled hot chocolate all over, at least it wasn't his neck!

The other side of the river from where we stayed in Strasbourg.  LOVE!

Waiting for daddy with the car...someone looks less than thrilled...

We found our way to Colmar which actually wasn't all that far from Freiburg which we had visited the day before. The outskirts of the town remind me of many villages we've seen in Europe - more built up and modern with the "old town" in the center.  And this old town was stunning, the further we walked into it, the more I loved it.  There were parts where there was a small river that wound thru the center and along the streets - set with the old colorful Alsatian homes, it was just picture perfect.  Of course, this would be when I got a glimpse of sun and so the pictures all have a bit of glare but in my mind it was perfect!
Entering Old Town Colmar

Posing with Frosty

Coming upon our first Christmas market in Colmar

Aidan wanted to pose in front of the snowman

We are a food focused family... pretzel and hot chocolate (that Liam then spilled all over himself)

More food and beverages for all!

Our favorite, a gofre (a waffle with nutella)

Josh with his mulled wine

Rainspot on my camera that wouldn't go away

Small river running thru the town

This rainspot is annoying me - how perfect is this picture otherwise???

Trying again - love the Alsatian architecture!

Aidan told us after that this was such a baby ride...
did he really only figure that out when he got on it?

Sheep in a manger

On strike!  We are not walking any further!

Both kids got a kick out of the horse ride - like a merry go round but yet not...


I wish all of Europe looked like this... so quaint!

However when it came to the markets we found that they didn't have as much variety as far as products to sell and food to eat.  Stall after stall sold much of the same thing though it was still incredibly enjoyable.  But if we had to choose one that we liked better for the market, I would say it was Freiburg, however for the picture perfect scenery, it was Colmar. 
After a few hours of off and on freezing rain, we decided it was time to head back to Strasbourg.  We had planned to go to Riqueweir but we were all just so frozen from the rain and temperatures and honestly, we pushed the kids to go to 4 markets in 4 days and we can only push them so much to do the things that we want to do.  That's not to say the kids didn't have fun, but it certainly wasn't their cup of tea.

On the way back to Strasbourg, we saw a rainbow which was pretty cool.  It was hanging right over the edge of a village on the outskirt of some farmland.  Amazing!  Of course it was on Josh's side of the car so I couldn't really get a picture and with all the rain, I think I damaged my brand new camera (will be making a trip to FNAC today for a replacement). 
We had promised Aidan we would go ice skating in Strasbourg so when we got back, I went in search of the ice rink as well as some cheese and bread.  One of the things I love about life here is the fresh bread and pair it with a great cheese from a cheese shop and I'm in heaven.  Aidan and I had walked past a cheese shop the day before and I went out on a mission to find it.  Now keep in mind I speak NO French whatsoever other than Merci and Bonjour.  That's it.  I was determined to go in and get what I needed though it was frustrating not to be able to ask questions.  I pointed to the cheese that I wanted and she didn't even ask me if I wanted anything else.  She told me the total but didn't show me the receipt like they would in BCN so I had no idea how much it would be.  I handed her 10 euros figuring it couldn't be more than that.  She finally handed me the receipt with my change and it turned out she was looking to see if I had the change since it was 5.56 euro.  I did have the change but I had no idea what she had been saying to me.  It reminded me of how frustrating things were when we first moved to Spain and trying to navigate something as simple as ordering some cheese and paying for it.  It all seems so simple in that respect here (there are plenty of other things that are not so simple still) as I've been ordering cheese in Spanish for 2 years now and feel pretty confident about it.  And while it was frustrating to feel like I was back at square one, it also made me feel good to know just how far I have come with my Spanish to feel good about my ability to speak when needed. 

Anyways, I found the ice skating rink too which turned out was just behind the building across the street from our apartment (it was a tall and wide building which is why I hadn't seen it before).  Aidan was happy to hear I'd found it and bonus, it's close by.  We had another casual dinner in a semi-touristy area again but the food was delicious and so it was worth while.  Unfotunately when we went to go to the rink after dinner, it turned out that it was closing in just 15 minutes and so we weren't able to skate.  We promised him that on our next vacation, next week we will find a place to go skating or we will go in Barcelona before we leave for that vacation.  And as a concession we also decided that this was the night to start building a Christmas village - if only we'd decided that when we'd gone to Colmar and Freiburg we could have collected a building from each of those as well.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20. 
We had these at Paul and Aimee's - chocolate covered marshmallows with a wafer bottom... yum!  Bought a 9 pack to bring back with us, too bad most of them got squished in transit! 

One more day to go and then back home to BCN and the warm weather!!


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