The occasion presented itself to take Evelin to my old haunts this past weekend — we spent a day each in the Black Forest (Germany), Basel (Switzerland), and Strasbourg (Alsace, France). Ev’s admittedly a bigger fan than I of Christmas celebrations; I’d been feeling a bit of Heimatschmerz (homesickness) of late — this quick romantic sortie to the Weinländer of my youth fit the bill for both of us, providing reminiscent sights, sounds, smells, and tastes (replete of course with raclette, Heisse Maroni, cheese crêpes, local Gebäck and gateau, chocolates, marzipan delicacies, and Glühwein galore).
Our 77 remedial hours in “the old country” included some speedy Autobahn travel back and forth across Southern Germany, ambling through outdoor Christmas markets in Basel and Strasbourg, a museum visit in each of the three adjacent countries, and some time with my kid brother Phil, his lovely wife Tammy, and their two boys (who live in the quaint old village of Holzen in the Kanderntal).
Below are a few pics from the weekend outing. You can view more on my Facebook page here.
Basel, Switzerland, is a humanist city on Rhine located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet. Its famous Christmas market was our destination on Saturday (Ev and I were accompanied by my brother Phil and his wife Tammy); the market now includes the area around Basel’s 1000-year-old Münster (cathedral) as well as the traditional Barfüsserplatz, where we also visited the Historisches Museum (which houses the Upper Rhine’s most comprehensive cultural history collection).
Holzen (bei Kandern) is the quaint old village in the Black Forest where my brother Phil and his family live. We stayed with them for two nights, during which the seasons changed dramatically. We felt fortunate to be able to take in the exhibition “Pop Art Design” and view the showrooms at the Vitra Design Museum in nearby Weil am Rhein (designed by Frank Gehry, the museum is somewhat of a ‘Mecca’ for the worldwide design and architectural community; creations of Charles and Ray Eames such as their famous ‘Lounge Chair’ feature prominently).
Straßburg (aka Strasbourg) is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France, and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Dating back over 3500 years, the city has held Christmas markets since 1570. Strasbourg’s famous cathedral, the world’s highest still-standing structure built entirely in the Middle Ages, was visible from our charming attic room at the Hotel Gutenberg (Strasbourg was also where Johannes Gutenberg created the first European moveable type printing press in the 1400s).