Flembe, creme brulee, and wine d’alsace

Lets see how do I describe Colmar… I think disgustingly cute will work. Every direction, every corner, every shop, every house are all disgustingly cute. We spent the day window shopping eating pastries, planning the next few days and wandering the streets.

The evening came and we were still wandering around gawking at the fountains and architecture. The city lights some of the facades up  with different colors at night adding to the uniqueness of the original color of the building. We grabbed some donars for dinner and slowly walked back to the tent for an early night. I had acquired World War Z sometime in spain, so we watched that together on the smallest screen known to man and went to bed.

In the morning we packed our camp up and grabbed the bus to the train station to stow our bags for the day. We didn’t have a plan; was just going to try asking a hotel or something. Turns out, next to the station on the north side is a bicycle rental. They do not advertise it but they will hold luggage for free. If you plan on visiting Colmar and do not know were your planning on staying, this may be handy for a bit. They like tips.

We spent the day shopping and wandering the streets again trying more pastries since they will be the last french ones we get to end our 6 day pastry binge. Thank you France, we came, we gorged, and now I’m sure we are both 10lbs heavier from from your flakey buttery confections.

At the station we talked to the attendant about a ticket to basil and he informed us the cost for the both of us would be close to the regional pass for 5 people and we should just get this. Basically what this meant was, you and 4 of your friends could spend the day exploring all of the Alsace region from Basil Switzerland up to Strasbourg, France hopping on and off the train where ever you please. When we heard this we decided to only spend a few more hours in Colmar and grab the train up to Strasbourg for dinner then head back down to continue to conquer our next country, Switzerland.

I met someone from Strasbourg in Valencia and he told me about some great places to visit and some unique things to eat. I tried to reach out to him to meet up, but he was away at a festival for the weekend so we wandering with a tourists map we acquired at the station instead.

Another suggestion. If you plan on visiting Strasbourg for only a day or so, stow your luggage somewhere else, IE back in Colmar where it is for free, because the lockers at the main station cost 9eu for each one. Luckily we were able to cram both our packs into one locker.

It happened to be a saturday and the entire city was in a hustle bustle. We had arrived just after 4pm and as we walked around we started seeing people with make up and shredded clothes all over the place. We had just missed their zombie walk by minutes 😦 Imagine walking out of a train station and seeing that as your welcome to a new city. Damn.

The women working at the information counter had told us the cathedral was a great sight to see and today was special. The normal fee to climb the spires was waived and we were able to explore the buildings roof and see the view of the city. We had considered doing this in Paris, at Notre Dame but didn’t.

Free is nice, but you don’t just hike up a spire, look and then hike back down. You get to walk across parts of the roof and explore some fascinating area of these larger churches you would otherwise never see. At the very top, they have a ancient human powered elevator wheel. People used to walk in it like mice to haul equipment and other items up and down the church. The main spire had engravings in stones of people dating back to mid 16th century. I didn’t ask but it entertains me to think it is 5 hundred year old graphiti  🙂 On the way back down it down-poured. It rained so hard the gargoyles were overflowing and rain was running down the steps in the staircase we walked down. This just added to the unique experience.

After the rain died down we headed over to old town to have a try at some regional cuisine. On the way over we ran into a parade having to do something with music or cultures from around the world. There was all types of music and dance in motion one style after another. Another great thing to stumble into to make our day even better.

Once in old town we looked for a good place to try flembé, or flammkuchen. Traditionally it is a flatbread crispy pizza thing with a cream sauce, onions, cheese and bacon, but you can make it with other toppings like salmon and capers. Either way it is amazing!! I made sure to get a recipe.

We also tried some wine from the region and finish the evening off with a creme brûlée. After that we grabbed the next train south to meet up with a friend who was expecting us in Olten, Switzerland.

People ask me why I love to travel. It’s not only the great places to visit or get wasted at but half of it is the people. It is also the same reason I am an advocate of using hostels vs hotel rooms. Traveling is meeting people and experiencing their stories. Think of it like the Yelp version but with more emotion, more personal, less corporate and with a lot more drinking involved. 🙂

Any ways, Amongst many others, I met Michael in Belize on a tiny island where there are no cars, sunsets are amazing and I didn’t wear shoes for 9 days straight.

Since I was late I missed him at the station, but luckily I had his address and he lived close to the station, so we walked. When we got to his place, I was greeted with yelling out the window, “We don’t buy any!” and scribbled on a piece of printer paper taped to the front door, “The Matterhorn Hostel”. He was gracious to give us his spare room, also taped on the door another piece of paper, “The Dorm”. Inside was a cozy bed, towels, even the code to the wifi. Everything you look for in a hostel when you get in. This is my review for The Matterhorn Hostel. If you can find it. It is the best hostel I have stayed at, ever. Most gracious host, hospitality and entertainer. I am grateful to have such an amazing friend.

We settled in and joined michael and his girlfriend Denise for an amazing assortment of sliced meats and delicious Swiss cheeses and some wine for dinner.

After talking, catching up and sharing stories we went out to one of their favorite bars down the street. Literally, it was like 5 doors down, on the same block, but around the corner so I will say, ‘down the street’. You could see the balcony of his apartment through the window. Denise’s sister also lived on the other side of the courtyard behind his apartment. 3 doors down the other direction from the bar. Yes it is a smaller town.

Anyways. The rest of the night gets a little blurry after that, but the abridged version goes something like this. Beer, shot, beer, shot, beer, walk to next bar, beer, shot, beer, shot, beer, cram all of us into a passport photobooth and make funny faces, walk to another bar, beer, beer, walk to the civic center with more beers, go swimming, walk home make more foods and proceed to play drinking games until around 6 am. Honestly, I really don’t know when. Just that Michael went MIA with a handful of pistachios for a bit there. Welcome to Switzerland.


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