Thanksgiving in Alsace, Part I

France Paris, Ribeauville, France   Dec 10, 2014    By

“Have yourself…a merry, little Christmas…” That’s the song that played in the cafe while I was having lunch in Ribeauville. As I sipped my glass of Alsatian white wine, and slowly ate and savored my salade de chevre chaud (warm goat cheese salad…very good), it made me think of another holiday spent away from friends and family…wondering how I got here.

In the literal sense, I got here via bus from Colmar. I had a brief conversation with the driver, who expressed his opinion that President Obama is going through hard times according to the news, and that he probably needs to drink more wine…a very interesting and somewhat simplistic solution. In the not-so-literal sense, however, I’ve spent many holidays away from home due to my own choices…and that’s just how life played out…however when my days as a ‘traveler’ are done I look forward to spending holidays the way normal people do. As exciting as it can be sometimes, I don’t think moving solo like a phantom through foreign cities and villages is a great option for holiday travel. All these experiences will help me to appreciate the times in the future. And right on cue…as I was taking notes in the cafe in Ribeauville for this entry, ‘White Christmas’ started playing…a song used in Kurt Vonnegut’s book ‘Mother Night’ that also reminds me of lonely holidays!

Now back to happier things, the Alsatian Gewurztraminer was wonderful! It wasn’t just the wine, however, as Ribeauville is a beautiful village. What stood out the most is the architecture of the houses and buildings, which is a characteristic of the entire Alsace region. The multi-colored buildings – aqua blue, bright orange, maroon, purple, etc. – were like nothing I’ve seen before. I talked to someone who said Alsace is very strict about how the buildings look, and you need to get a city permit in order to change anything on the outside of your house…kind of like a city-wide HOA working to preserve the look of the region.

alsace winethanksgiving lunch in alsace

As if the buildings weren’t beautiful enough, the entire city was littered with flowers and Christmas decorations. Although they only have their Christmas market for two weekends in December, the spirit definitely seemed to be here in Alsace.

ribeauville - village in alsaceribeauville - village in alsaceribeauville - village in alsace

ribeauville - village in alsaceribeauville - village in alsaceribeauville - village in alsace

ribeauville - village in alsaceribeauville - village in alsace ribeauville - village in alsace

As I left the cafe, the song ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ was playing…one of my holiday favorites. Oddly this most reminds me of a scene from the Tom Hanks movie ‘Catch me if you Can’…a truly great film. In the scene, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character escapes the FBI and runs to his mom’s house years after he saw her last…only to find that she’s moved on with a new husband and child. See the movie…I highly recommend it!

The three hours I was in Ribeauville the streets were mostly silent and devoid of people….probably because I was there early afternoon and this is when France, especially the Alsace region, usually shuts down. This did, however, allow me to walk in peace through most of the city streets. Strangely there are no dog photos on this entry, as the only dog I saw started angrily barking when I pulled my camera out…must’ve been having a bad hair day.

Before I caught the bus, I had a glass of Louis Sipp wine (really good) and chatted with a couple of bartenders about California…as is common for Europeans they cite San Francisco as their favorite city. I told them tales of the unchanging, sunny and perfect weather in San Diego, and they seemed intrigued. I made it to my bus on-time, and was off to the next village!

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