Désolée pour le retard, it’s been a busy couple of semaines. (Side note, les Français need a decent mot for ‘fortnight’, une quinzaine just doesn’t cut it.) The week before last, Laurence est arrivé à Colmar; grâce à my fantastic directions provided en anglais et en français, he made it from the airport to la gare de Colmar all by himself, even managing to conveniently time son arrivée with my arrival at the station after la dernière (et seule) classe of the day. We finally got round to watching ‘The Theory of Everything’, which was just as merveilleux as tout le monde had said, but also très triste!
Après quelques heures of classes, we headed to la Suisse for the weekend; it was assez difficile to keep that a secret from Laurence! Both trains were à l’heure, and after an accidental tour of the industrial estate of Lucerne (because j’ai oublié the directions which I had printed out especially to avoid situations like this…) we found the ibis budget. Ensuite, we wandered into la vieille ville seeing a few people in strange costumes avant d’aller au bar ‘California’ for tea, how Swiss indeed. Upon our return to notre chambre, it became apparent that the ibis budget was, to dire the least, not soundproof at all. Case in point: le couple in the chambre below us.
The following day (incidentally le jour de Saint-Valentin), we set off to explore Lucerne armed with un plan de la ville and a booklet of coupons for free things. By mid afternoon, we had obtained plein de (free) choses: apricot jam, a collectable spoon, Lindors, a cowbell and a strange Nepalese music CD.
Après crossing the bridge into town, we saw Chapel Bridge; c’était un pont en bois, with lots of random pieces of art if you look upwards. Afterwards, we explored le marché and found something for le petit déjeuner.
Ensuite, we saw the lion monument – which, bizarrement, was located in different places depending on which map you looked at. Malheureusement, I’ve forgotten exactly what it commemorated…but that’s what Google’s for, non?
Next it was le temps pour a quick trip to co-op pour quelques chocolats (what’s not to love about pick and mix lindors?) and, à ma plus grande joie, an innocent smoothie avec un chapeau (I’m legitimately allowed to be suréxcitée over this, c’était la première fois that I’ve seen one!). We walked back into town via Museggmauer (the old walls/ramparts), encountering le yak le plus mignon que j’ai jamais vu!
We saw the Nadelwehranlage (needle dam facility) avant de traverser Spreuer Bridge and walking on towards le lac.
We then saw le début of ‘Fasnacht’ (the winter carnival) avec beaucoup de gens in ridiculous costumes, including a few who had painted their faces black and donned some afro wigs…
Next, nous sommes allés à la gare to take the train to Zurich! As it was seulement une heure away by train, I decided to combine les deux villes into one trip.
When we arrived, after checking into easyHotel (oui, there is a hotel version of easyJet), we headed into la vieille ville…where we promptly located Cake and Friends. For anyone in Zurich, this is un café fantastique avec a huge selection of cakes, available in any combination you fancy: you choose deux flavours (we chose banana and carrot) and they both come served on the same plate. Or, you can go the whole cochon and get a selection of six, as the couple next to us did. Après feeling un peu malade during the afternoon, an early night was in order so that we could make the most of la journée prochaine.
Le matin suivant, we went to the station to prendre le train à Uetliberg, une montagne overlooking Zurich. Le ciel was grey when we left Zurich, but at the top of the mountain il y avait beaucoup de soleil! Malheureusement, we didn’t manage to go sledging but on a passé quelques heures in the sun, which was lovely.
We then returned to Cake and Friends pour manger quelque chose (apple tart pour moi, creamy-amaretto-y thing pour Laurence) before going on a boat on Lake Zurich.
With un peu de temps to spare, we went up the cathedral for une vue panoramique of Zurich.
Après collecting a few more cartes postales for my collection, it was time to take le train home to Colmar…and say bonjour to a un pizza hawaiien from Domino’s! C’était un week-end génial!
The following day, with deux classes annulées we decided to spend la journée à Freiburg. After un croissant chocolat-banane and a brioche pomme pour le petit déjeuner, we headed to the bus stop. Thinking that we’d use the stop un peu plus proche, I accidently picked the wrong one and we missed le bus. At least it meant there was time for un chocolat chaud at L’Amandine. Having complètement forgotten to bring lunch with us, we bought something at une boulangerie before going to the other bus stop à la gare. Upon notre arrivée à Freiburg, we discovered that everything was fermé. It turned out it was Carnaval; as such, we spent l’après-midi watching the parade where free bonbons were thrown into la foule.
It was un événement très intéressant to see, although some costumes/ masks m’avaient fait peur! One band even played ‘Born to be wild’! Laurence was très heureux as there were bratwursts partout; j’étais contente with a giant pretzel.
On Shrove Tuesday, being truly britannique, we made pancakes. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out quite like they do normalement (maybe because j’ai oublié that French flour has no rising agent?) but they still tasted délicieux with Canadian sirop d’érable/ jus de citron/ Nutella/ confiture (delete as appropriate).
Après avoir mangé almost all our pancakes, I had a class. Normalement, there are quatre ou cinq élèves; that day, there were two. Not exactly ideal, mais j’ai continué with my lesson on Shrove Tuesday complete with recipes and pancake race videos. After a detour home via la boulangerie (baguettes are an essential part of la vie française) and a short break for le déjeuner, it was back to school to invigilate un examen. En plus, j’ai skypé ma mère to say Happy Birthday; heureusement the French postal system didn’t let me down, and her cadeau arrived on time.
Wednesday, comme d’habitude, was my day off, so we went to Saint Dié des Vosges. En route, we had a long correspondance between le train et le bus, so I showed Laurence la ville de Sélestat. Bien sûr, our little detour involved a boulangerie – which had little hedgehog cakes!
Il n’y avait pas beaucoup à faire, but it was sunny which made a change from cloudy Colmar. We had a wander around la ville, saw la tour de la liberté (a peculiar little structure from which you could get une vue panoramique of la ville) and a hideous concrete block designed by Le Corbusier.
Ensuite, on est retourné à Colmar in time for un chocolat chaud at Jupiler Café (un peu awkward that depuis mon arrivée ici I thought it was called Jupiter Café…) which was délicieux! After that, we went to Le Palais des Légendes (une crêperie fantastique!) where I introduced Laurence to galettes pour la première fois dans sa vie.
Comme d’habitude, I opted for un galette nature (and ended up with two!) whilst Laurence went for something plus exciting. I had no room for a crêpe afterwards (Laurence, of course, did) so opted for une glace framboise-mangue. Après avoir mangé we met Simone au cinéma to see ‘American Sniper’ (en anglais); c’était un film super, mais la fin était vraiment triste.
On Thursday, j’avais deux classes; I always seem to have fewer hours dans la semaine avant les vacances. Between classes, we went to Bagelstein for lunch (trop bien) and had a wander around Colmar.
Après quelques heures of classes on Friday morning and frantic route-planning and map-printing for my trip (vous aurez besoin de voir the next blogpost for details on that) it was finalement les vacances d’hiver! We spent some time in Colmar, parce que Laurence hadn’t yet seen it in the sun (le pauvre) before catching the train to Munster.
Avant de getting off the train, l’homme sitting to our left approached us, wanting to know what two English speakers were doing in Munster. Après explaining why, it transpired that he was caring for his mother-in-law and was actually Australian. Il y avait beaucoup de soleil à Munster and lots of cigognes sitting on their perches.
We walked through l’abbaye, at which point a man standing devant un café shouted “You speak English!” to us…tellement bizarre! We went to the viewpoint pour une vue très jolie, avant de boire un jus de pommes chaud dans un café (flashback to les marchés de Noël!) and un macaron cassis from une boulangerie.
Whilst cooking tea, or to be plus précis, the microwaveable frites it looked as though we had managed to break le four à micro-ondes. Luckily, I didn’t have to explain that petit cauchemar to anyone as trente minutes plus tarde it was functioning again perfectly normally.
On Saturday (our last full day ensemble) we went to Mulhouse. On our way to la gare, whilst walking through le marché Place St Joseph, an old man came out with “Vous êtes mariés?”. Je suis un peu trop jeune for that I think, Monsieur. I took Laurence to the zoo in Mulhouse (oui, je suis un peu obsédée with zoos): c’était great fun and les ours polaires were being très cooperative when it came to photos. We also saw la fin du Carnaval in Mulhouse, followed by lots of groups playing music dans la ville.
Then, avec a hideous 6am alarm, Sunday came around and it was time to aller à l’aéroport. Il n’y avait pas du temps for a final croissant chocolat-banane before the (trop early) train to Saint Louis. We had un peu de temps to kill at the airport before Laurence had to go through security, and then trop quickly it was time to say bye, with the added “See you in 10 weeks…in Montréal!”