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Strasbourg (12/8-11)

December 11th, 2006 · No Comments

During the Christmas season cities all over Germany and France (especially in the Alsace region) explode with outside markets. They sell seasonal food and drink as well as regional & not-so-regional crafts. So, we set out for Strasbourg and neighboring Colmar in northern France for some Vin Chaud (hot spiced wine) and possibly latkes (potato pancakes).

For those of you wondering, Zookie blessed us with his presence for this Christmas season trip.

For photos, click here.



We took the very convenient TGV from central Paris straight to Strasbourg. There was a really big storm that day, so all the trains were delayed. Things got back to normal relatively quickly, and we were on our way. Zookie even enjoyed sitting in his own seat (only for a minute).

We had planned this trip to meet up with a friend, Michelle, who we know from the Stanford GSB. She was working just an hour away for SAP in the German city of Heidelberg. After meeting up, we went to the town center: the Cathedral. Interestingly the surrounding square dates back to Roman times. When we arrived in the late morning, the space was packed with tons of people and rows of vendor stalls. We threw ourselves into the chaos (quickly buying a vin chaud (spiced mulled wine) & a warm orange juice with honey to warm up). We indulged in wintry treats in view of the same place where Martin Luther nailed his theses to the Cathedral doors – and started the Reformation.

While Kimberly and Michelle took a tour of the Cathedral, Zookie and I scoped out the scene in hopes of finding the “popular” food stalls. After making our first round I stopped in front of an interesting wood carvings stall. All of a sudden I heard this ear piercing howl/scream. I looked down to see Zookie crying in pain while another dog was biting his nose. I tossed my wine aside and eventually pried the other dog off Zookie. The event probably lasted 30 seconds but it seemed like forever, the entire time Zookie was screaming in pain – I felt horrible, frustrated, and angry at the owner. All I could muster in French was “where is your muzzle, your dog needs a muzzle…” Miraculously, when I knelt down to check Zookie – there wasn’t a scratch! I checked again and again and he looked fine. A woman nearby came to say hello to Zookie and offered him some pizza. He, of course, greedily chowed down and seemed back to normal. As we walked back to the Cathedral, Zookie tugged and pulled towards every dog we passed – he wanted to play with everyone as if nothing ever happened. Luckily, everything else during the trip went smoothly.

Although we never found any latkes (we think that a trip across the border to Germany would have been required) we tried a local dish called Flammenkuche which is similar to a thin crust pizza with lots of ham and emmentaler cheese. We also had a good meal at Brasserie de l’Ancienne Douane, which served very traditional fare (great for the cold weather). However, one of the highlights was not so appetizing: Kimberly’s meal arrived at the table with a huge fat-covered piece of pork roast that still had many hairs left on the skin….yum.

Strasbourg also has a fantastic neighborhood, La Petite France, that used to be home to the tanners, millers, and fishermen. So this area is filled with little canals – used for trade back then. With great architecture it was fun to wander and discover hidden canals, small bridges, and even more Christmas markets. La Petite France was especially picturesque at night time when they light up a number of houses.

We also visited Colmar, another smaller town in Alsace, with similar markets but a significantly less commercial feel than Strasbourg (and better snacks). We bought some wooden ornaments, tried some more traditional food: sausages, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Zookie also met some baby goats that were in a pen for the kids. Plus, some of the exposed timber buildings date back to the 1600’s (Colmar was left untouched after WWII even though many towns along the German-French border were obliterated).

It was great to see the two different towns and Christmas markets, although quite a zoo, filled with tourists and locals getting into the holiday spirit!

Tags: France

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