Colmar for Christmas…when my temporary landlord, Wolfgang, picked me up from the train station, he reminded me I booked this trip a year ago. I’ve read about Christmas in the Alsace region in France, and that Colmar was one of the places to go….so I planned very early. 🙂
When Wolfgang took me to the apartment I’d be staying at, I was stunned…easily the nicest place I’ve stayed on my solo travels. It helps when there are no hostel options, so you’re forced to get better accommodations. 🙂
It was only a 10 minute walk to the main town of Colmar, but the first night Wolfgang politely offered to drive me into the main town centre. The first night’s dinner wasn’t that healthy…a casserole with potatoes, cheese and onions. French food isn’t known as the healthiest, as it’s typically very rich and they use a lot of cream in their dishes.
The best thing about dinner was this woman sitting beside me had her dog with her, so he kept me company during a typically boring solo dinner. 🙂
I walked around the town centre a bit, checking out all the brightly decorated buildings, and then stumbled upon ‘Sport’s Cafe’, the only bar in Colmar with WiFi, I think. The poor grammar in the name was off-putting, as I don’t think they needed the apostrophe…probably just messed up the sign when they made it. I met some locals here and an odd tradition. One of the women was a ‘Catherinette’, basically a woman who has reached the age of 25 and is still single. Because that day was the feast of St. Catherine, she had to wear a giant hat indicating her unmarried status. Later in the night I took a taxi back to the apartment, as I was still unsure about the layout of the city streets.
Colmar is a cute city, like one of those small towns with a gimmick…Punxsutawny and Groundhog Day, for example. Colmar’s gimmick is Christmas, and they do it really well. A bartender I spoke with says the city gets one million tourists in December, and that for the period from late November through early January, it’s Christmas all the time…which I’m sure gets a bit annoying. It reminds me of that Simpsons episode when they went to a club at a resort, and it was New Year’s Eve every day of the year.
I caught a choir concert at a nice area called ‘Little Venice’, where boats of kids came down the canal and sang Christmas songs.
Of course there were many Christmas markets in Colmar, but those are being saved for a separate blog entry. My last day in Colmar I went to the museum for Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, most famously known for designing the Statue of Liberty. The museum was set in Bartholdi’s childhood home, and still had many of the original rooms preserved, which were beautiful. I was impressed with the amount of his work they had on display, and especially liked a really cool statue of a horse-mounted soldier angrily brandishing a sword. They of course had many references to his work with the Statue of Liberty, including a gift the city of New York gave him that read ‘from the New York world and over 121,000 Americans to Auguste Bartholdi and the great liberty loving people of France.’ I’m not usually impressed with museums, so overall this was a nice surprise and a good way to spend a couple of hours.
My last night in Colmar I found a Moroccan restaurant, so I was pretty excited about that. The food, however, was just average. I really wanted this one salad as an appetizer, but the waiter insisted to try another one which he said was much better…I succumbed to the peer pressure, as usual, and didn’t end up liking the salad he recommended.
After dinner I got lost for about 30 minutes while walking back to the apartment. I never really got the hang of the streets around here, as they definitely weren’t laid out in a grid. Although I had a map, I was frustrated at the lack of street signs in Colmar, so often I didn’t know where I was. I eventually found my way, and the next morning Wolfgang met me at the apartment and drove me to the train station. This was a great time in a cool city, I definitely felt the Christmas spirit!