Re-reading the four posts from our trip to the Alsace region of France, it occurs to me that I come across as kind of negative and curmudgeonly. If the truth be told, I truly am a cranky person sometimes, though I also have my jovial moments. I tend to write and say what I’m thinking, which can be off-putting for some people. Other people have told me they enjoy my frank nature because I say out loud what they are thinking and don’t want to risk saying.
Anyway, while some readers may have gotten the impression that I didn’t like Colmar, allow me to explain. I did have a good time. I almost always have fun when I travel with Bill, even when I end up in a predicament. And when something mortifying happens, like I get asked if I’m pregnant when I’m not, it usually turns into a funny story. I always learn something new whenever and wherever I travel, whether it’s the lay of the land, or appreciation for a new food or product, or even a new word or two.
Our trip to Colmar started off kind of badly, but by the time we were on our way home, I was marveling about how pretty France is and majestic parts of Germany are. Even in the rain, the beauty of the Alsace region and the Black Forest is breathtaking and very inspiring.
So, here are a few things I learned on our trip to Colmar.
1. In France, if you are pregnant, they are more concerned about you eating rare meat that might pass on an infection than they are if you’re drinking a glass of wine. The incident at La Taverne was initially offensive to me because I am not pregnant and I’m American and have a poor body image. I’d probably have a poor body image if I were French, too, but the bottom line is that those poor servers who got the stink eye from me after asking about the status of my womb weren’t really trying to be rude. And yes, though it was initially a mortifying moment for me, they provided me with a funny story. Next time I go to France, I’ll invest in some Spanx or control top pantyhose.
2. Colmar is cute, charming, and very busy! I had no idea how busy it would be there. I was under the impression that it was a quiet town. It’s not, and that’s not a bad thing. It took me a bit by surprise, but I think if we went back there and the weather was a bit more agreeable, I’d love it. I wasn’t all that impressed by what we saw of Mulhouse, but I bet it has its secret charming places, too. And even if it doesn’t, a lot of times, interactions with people make a place more special than ambiance and old buildings do.
3. Being in France on a Sunday can be fun, even though a lot of things will be closed. I’m glad we took a drive around the area. Just looking at the scenery is worthwhile. And I’m really glad we visited Remiremont and the areas surrounding it. While we may not get the chance to vacation there, I can definitely see why people would. If we stay here long enough, we may have to go back there… though I will be more careful about drinking water and wine and I will scope out where the public toilets are!
4. Sometimes hotel restaurants, even at small, basic establishments, are really excellent. I made the proprietor at Le Relais du Ried smile big when I complimented him on the talents of his chef. We really enjoyed our dinner there. Also, I’m kind of glad we stayed in a hotel outside of Colmar. We saved significant money and I thought the little neighborhoods around the hotel were adorable.
5. If you go to Colmar and you want to eat out, you may want to ask your concierge about reservations. We saw a lot of places that had signs on the door that read “Complet”, meaning that the place was fully booked for the evening. In Europe, people aren’t rushed in restaurants like they are in the United States. Personally, I like it that way. Having been a waitress in my younger days, I know how American restaurants like to “turn and burn” tables. But who wants to rush through a delicious meal? I like the fact that in European countries, you are encouraged to enjoy your meal and take your time. It makes for less stress on the wait staff, who can then offer you better service. It also makes for better enjoyment and digestion of your food and more time to converse with your companion(s), if you happen to have them.
6. Say hello and goodbye. Though I have spent a lot of time in Europe, particularly in Germany and France, I never noticed how more likely it is that people will speak to you here. In France, it was “Bon jour, madame!” and “Au revoir! Bonne journee!” everywhere I turned. In Germany, older people sitting near us in a restaurant said “Grüß Gott“ (May God greet you– commonly heard in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg) and “Auf Wiedersehen” (Until we meet again). Americans aren’t as much into greetings, so when you offer one in the local language, it’s a pleasant surprise for our hosts.
7. French honey from Alsace is absolutely delicious! And so is Alsatian riesling. I must rethink the previously negative opinion I had of certain white wines made of riesling grapes. They aren’t all sweet and cloying and they are worth trying.
Getting this picture was worth the trip!