Thursday, December 8, 2016

Home for the Holidays

Actually, I am not going home for the holidays. I'll be with David and his family. That's kind of hard, since I've never been away before... but in a lot of ways I felt like visiting Strasbourg with my mom was like going home! It was my home in 2013-2014, after all.

I always knew I wanted to show my mom around the Strasbourg Christmas markets someday, and we accomplished that on this trip. I don't believe that the Christmas season could be more magical in any other place- which explains why I ended up coming back to Strasbourg during this season every year since I lived there. Next year will probably be the first year I don't make it back, so I tried to make the most of it!

The first stop, after dragging our heavy luggage over cobblestones to get to the hotel (note the oh so subtle complaining), was to Place Kléber, the main square of the city.

Then we hit up the Christmas markets outside the cathedral (I like to call it my own personal cathedral). We were good friends when I lived here.

It was getting dark out by the time we hit up the small markets in the medieval part of the city, Petite France.

This cute store is open year-round, and I've bought hand-made ornaments here each of the 4 years I've been in Strasbourg for the Christmas season. This year I also caved and bought the nativity set I've been eyeing up for years.

The next day, in order to experience some small town Alsatian charm, we started out by taking the train to Obernai. Obernai is just 1 train stop away from the even tinier town where I worked during 2013-2014: Barr. We almost went there too, but tiny towns tend to have very inconvenient train schedules (I'm dealing with that now living in little Mandelieu).

Obernai has a nativity scene with live animals- which I remembered from visiting in 2013! Much to my surprise and delight, the same cute white donkey was still there. I learned this time his name is Léo. And yes, my mom did laugh at a 27 year old being excited about a donkey. When you're separated from your beloved white dog, weird things happen to your brain and you get excited by all white fluffy animals. 

I need to mention that it was COLD! Not cold by Wisconsin standards, but 35 degrees was pretty cold to be outside for hours at a time. Even more so when it hasn't been colder than 60 where I'm living in the south. My mom ended up buying a warm hat at a little store right next to this wishing well I found.

We stepped inside the cathedral to warm up a bit. European traveler tip: it didn't help. Gothic cathedrals are just as cold and drafty as the outside. The only thing that actually worked to warm up was hot chocolate- we might have had several a day on this trip. As a side note though, I LOVED that it was cold. I don't think I could have entered fully into the Christmas spirit unless my hands were a little numb.

After heading back to Strasbourg, we made an obligatory stop at my favorite mall. After lunch at my favorite pasta place (it's so fun to get to visit all of your old favorites!), Mom opted for a nap and I opted to keep wandering around. I was determined to see everything!

I popped inside my cathedral and then walked through Petite France to get some pictures in the daylight. I used to live very close to here. It felt so weird to walk by my street several times.

With mom, the last market we went to was in Place Broglie. It's the biggest market in Strasbourg, so we spent a lonnnnng time browsing through the ornaments. We also sampled some gingerbread cookies, called bredeles, and had cheese crepes for dinner.

I'm so happy that I could spend a few days in this place I love (and Paris, of course! which I also love). 

After spending 2 days at the Christmas markets, we left winter behind and flew from Strasbourg down south to Nice with some suitcases that were a little fuller than before.

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