We left Strasbourg this morning and drove to Colmar, about an hour away. Colmar is where Frederic Bartholdi was born – the Statue of Liberty sculptor – and the town celebrates him with a museum and his name on some buildings and businesses. Since the museum wasn’topen until later in the afternoon, our plan was to visit the Unterlinden Art Museum there, but there was also a holiday market.
The museum was interesting, but the market was excellent. We got a few gifts and some hot cider in their Calmor Christmas mug.
We had lunch in a restaurant near the museum and walked around the city center, checking out the holiday decorations. It was very cold out, so we left and headed south toward Arles, where we will spend a few days. It is seven hours away, so we won’t get there today.
photos: a Statue of Liberty replica in the center of a roundabout. It was very foggy; at the Unterlinden museum; the entrance to the holiday market
We explored Strasbourg today, checking out the Christmas markets, Petite France – the historic part of the city, the huge Cathedral, some ice skating, and the shops. Strasbourg is such a lively place, and the River Ill adds some beautiful ambiance to the city.
The decorations in the cities we have visited are all unbelievably extravagant and unlike anything I have ever seen. Strasbourg is no exception. It calls itself the “capital of Christmas,” and the lights and displays are on every street.
There is a huge police presence throughout the city and most of the officers are cradling their cocked weapons as they walk or stand, and they are constantly looking all around. It is unsettling to observe, but if prevents a repeat of last year’s December terrorist attack here, it is necessary.
photos: the Ill river, running through the city; ice skaters. The rink seems to be a very large piece of plywood and somehow a thin layer of snow is spread on top. Skaters rent orange plastic skates they strap to their shoes – regular ice skates wouldn’t work; the decorations on one street in the city
Today was a driving day: Salzburg, Austria to Strasbourg, France. The distance is about 5 1/2 hours but with snow coming down when we left this morning then a complete nightmare of the center of the city being closed off for security reasons, it took us closer to seven hours.
Last year at this time, the Strasbourg Christmas Market was the scene of a terrorist attack, with people killed and injured. This year there is no entry to the city at all by car, so we parked at a garage and walked to where we are staying. We got to a checkpoint and were stopped by police to open our luggage. We didn’t understand it all at first, but remembered the whole awful tragedy once we arrived at our lodging and talked with people there.
Strasbourg is a bigger city than I realized, so we will enjoy checking it out tomorrow. We had dinner at one of the few restaurants open on Monday, and by the time we were finished the market was closed for the day and the streets were quiet.
photos: snow in Salzburg this morning; decorations we walked by in Strasbourg this evening; a building in the city
December first! The year is almost over.
There were probably half as many people at the Christmas market today as last night so we were able to walk around, check out the booths, and have some hot punch in a Salzburg festival mug.
It seems that most everything at this city’s market is a holiday decoration or Christmas-related. Other markets we have visited have more random handmade gifts that are not necessarily Christmas- themed.
We had lunch at a busy pub where we were cautioned “One hour!” before I guess we would be asked to leave. That was fine since everything was served quickly and my goulash was very good.
We walked along by the river until the late afternoon. We go to Strausbourg tomorrow.
photos: Mulled wine mug from Salzburg’s holiday market; the river today; a street performer seeming to defy gravity.