"You say you've been overseas
I say over where
You say just a holiday
My Alsatian heir."
-from the song Moonlight over Paris
Whoever was referred to as the Alsatian heir in the song must have been very lucky. I'm not sure if it's me, because I still AM overseas, and was on a holiday yesterday (and today!). As a form of revenge on my flat-hunting saga last month which resulted to missed excursions organized by the Sprachlehrinstitut, I signed up for at least three excursions this month.
"Schoenes Wochenende" as what most people would greet each other on Fridays as the week draws to an end. And schoen it was yesterday, made especially sweeter due to the fact that it had been cold and gray for the past weekdays. It was just one of the things I was praying for so as not to ruin our trip to Alsace in France, which lies near the southwest border of Germany.
Alsace is also famous for storks. Two stops are nestling on top of the tower.
Our trip was made special by our bus driver, Uwe (U-ve) Koch, who also served as our tourguide as he announced some interesting bits and pieces of facts about the road we're passing through. He spoke acceptable English, and this he said he learned from his Filipina wife. He was delighted to learn that one of his passengers is a Filipino. At one point, and to my surprise, played through the sound system the marching tune of the Lupang Hinirang, the Philippine National Anthem. He also played some speech, and found out from Uwe that it was actually Erap giving a speech. For what reason he got it, only he knows.
Alsace for quite a while in history was the subject of a tug-o-war between Germany and France, especially it lies near the demarcation line between the two countries which is the Rhine River.
On the left grows potatoes and on the right grows, uh, Eiffel Towers.
Our first stop was a Haut-Koenigsburg, a medieval castle restored during the early part of the last century. The castle is situated on top of a mountain, and its stategic location gives one the view of the Alsatian slopes. The castle now functions as a museum as a repository of ruins and replica of artifacts left during the 30 Years War when it was last used. This include spears, armors of knights, rubbles of stones with ornate designs.
Deutschkurs students waiting in the yard to get inside.
Our second destination was the town of Requiwihr. Requiwihr is a quaint town which must have come to life straight from a fairy-tale book. Although more compact, it is actually how I first envisioned Freiburg to be: small alleys, colorful houses whose windows are adorned with flowers, and biscuit and candy stores. It is fortified by walls, and outside of which are just so more quaint houses and hectares of rolling vineyards.
Typical Requiwihr dwellings along the main road.
Alsatians selling grapes by the road side.
Taken from the Alsatian air.
The Alsatian heir!
Behind the quaintness of the town lies, Diebesturm, literally "thieves' tower." This is another museum which used to be a torture chamber during the medieval times. The penitentiary building during the times of yore. Various implements for torturing are on display from finger-crushers, nipple-extractors, and many others which even your imagination could not define. Another part of the museum features documentation of the wreck caused by the Second World War.
Another museum in the guise of a tower houses memorabilia of the old town like old door/gate mechanisms, charcoal-operated flat irons, and rifles and the target it has riddled with bullets.
Our last stop was the house of Albert Schweitzer, a Nobel Prize winner, theologian, doctor, musician all rolled into one. His house-turned-museum features artifacts from his medical service in Africa, like two boats and other African thingamags, honestly some of which looked like came from some of Philippines indigenous groups.
On our way back to Freiburg, Uwe passed us through Colmar and gave us one bit of trivia. The sculptor of the Statue of Liberty in New York, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was born and grew up in Colmar, a town in Alsace. A replica of the statue was built and stands in a major highway in honor of him.
New York, France...
A schoenes Wochenende to everyone!