More one-way trips to new places. I want to count how many trains we have taken since Italy. San Giovanni (home of the Mitchells) to Venice and back, then a train to Rome. After that we took 2 trains to Zurich, with a short layover in Milan. It took 3 trains to get from Zurich to Nancy. Zurich to Basel (layover), Basel to Strasbourg (layover), and Strasbourg to Nancy. It has been wonderful staying with all the people that have hosted us so wonderfully. Jean Louis and Claire have been hosting us in the most spectacular way, and making us feel soooooo at home. Claire is an incredibly amazing cook, so we have been eating superb French food.

The food is so good in France, and we have had such a good time, that Alex is starting to worry a little bit. He showed us the Grandeur of Spain, with Granada and Ronda, and all the Roman and Moorish history hidden there. We all loved Spain so much, but now it is Janet’s turn to show off her country. France has been amazing since the second we got here, and it might be taking the lead against Spain.

We have been in the part of France were Janet’s family came from, Alsace. We stayed with Jean Louis and Claire in Nancy, which isn’t quite part of Alsace, but they are relatives, so we wanted to visit them.

We woke up and got ready, as we had to very often. Backpacks packed, shoes tied, coats zippered, we drove to the train station. We had plenty of time, so we ate a snack before the train because our breakfast wasn’t very big. We ate some leftover cookies from Zurich, and some other snacks that Alex had stocked up on the day before.

But before long, our train was there and another train ride was ahead of us. We were backtracking. Several days ago we had gone on trains from Zurich, to Basel, to Strasbourg, and then to Nancy. Now we would ride from Nancy to Strasbourg, and from Strasbourg to Colmar. We had done Nancy first even though it was farther away because we wanted to hit Colmar when Jean Louis and Claire’s daughter Virginie was on a work break. We would be able to meet with her if we came then, not earlier.

The train ride was not long, and the time passed swift as the wind. We took a half-hour train (so short) from Strasbourg to Colmar, where we hopped off the train and began the walk to our airbnb.

After a while we arrived in front of the apartment building, and found the keys hidden behind a sign in the parking lot. We punched in the code and took the keys out of their clever hiding spot, and then went inside to settle in. We unloaded our packs and settled into a new place, for like the 23rd time this trip (I counted).

Colmar is in Alsace, a region in France both bordering Germany and Switzerland. It has a unique mix of French and German cultures, and a little bit of Swiss culture rolled in there. To be Alsacian is different from being French. It is part of France, but it has its own culture. It is a big soup of French, German, and Swiss ingredients. There are also a lot of those amazing gingerbread-looking houses.

It really looked quite medieval. It was amazing.

After we settled in, we rested until the sun had set. By then, it was time to get our of the house and see Colmar. The whole place was lit up at night, like some grand festival celebrating the most important day of the year. Everything was colorful, and people seemed to be in the Christmas spirit (even though it was still early November). We walked around, and got dinner in the warmest, snuggest place possible. We saw shops of all kinds and festival goods, as we just soaked in the whole experience. I felt so happy to be here. This was the land of the Buchers. Buchers were in this whole area, living their lives here hundreds of years ago. At Jean Louis and Claire’s house, they had kept records of family history, and it was and will be very fun to delve and search for answers about our family heritage. We did some of that in Spain, with Alex’s family, after we found the Alvear winery.

Colmar is a place of wonder and magic. It is so cute with its houses, and the whole jolly, cold, calm, Christmassy feeling pervading and wafting through the air like a little ghost, making its way into everybody’s hearts and minds, making them all warm and fuzzy.

Below: Pictures from Colmar