Renaissance faire in real life

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 15, 2012

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Flag of France  , Alsace,
Friday, July 22, 2011

We spent most of the day in Olton, Switzerland enjoying the day. Adriana and I went out to play chess on a life-sized chessboard. She cornered my king in about half an hour. In the early afternoon we left the blazing green rolling hills of northern Switzerland for the flat and fertile farmlands of Alsace. The rain continued to pelt us the entire drive. Our GPS had mapped us on a very unusual route, rather than taking my suggestions of how we would like to drive from one place to the other (fastest route), it decided we hadn't seen enough of the countryside, so it took us on a tour of the smallest and windiest roads in both countries. Despite this, we arrived in Riquewihr almost to the minute of the time we were supposed to check into our new apartment. We left the kids in the car while Estela and I checked in, got a tour of the apartment and shown our reserved parking space. The main street of Riquewihr is packed with tourists during the day and it would be difficult to get a car into and out of our downtown parking spot, so we took the essentials and settled into the house we would occupy for the next month.

The apartment is a rather large two bedroom with a full kitchen, dining room and large living room. We have a TV (only French and German channels) and a misbehaving wireless internet. The apartment is located on the top floor of a building that also houses a wine cellar and tasting room and a tourist shop. The building is so photogenic that tourists stop all day long taking pictures of it. The apartment gives us a place to add some permanence to our trip; after more than a week of wandering around we have a place to hang things up and not worry about repacking for a while. But Colmar, a ten-minute drive away, has a train station that can take us to all other major cities in Europe. Not that we would ever want to leave this hallucination of a village.

Riquewihr got my attention while I was researching places centrally located in France, and the pictures I found on the internet had my head spinning. We found this apartment and booked it almost a year ago. The main street is like a walk through fantasyland, except the buildings are original and probably built to the standards of the sixteenth century. But the streets are curved and the buildings have sagged into a slightly leaning posture in no consistent direction. Most of the dwellings have dates stamped above the doors, most of which date to 1500s. The quaintness of this town attracts a mob of tourists each day, every one of which takes hundreds of pictures as they wander by. But in the early mornings before the tourists arrive and the late evenings after the streets drain of people, the place seems more alive to me. During these times, the town looks like it should look and probably did look four hundred years ago, at least in my unimaginative mind. At any time I expect a large green guy and a talking donkey to come loping around a corner.

Estela, Mason and I went for an evening walk and let me take some time exposure photos, as you can see a sampling of here on this blog. You will see a lot of interesting photos over the next month as Adriana and I work on our photography techniques. To be here for a month and to be able to enjoy the early morning hours and late evening quiet in a town like Riquewihr is like having Disneyland open to you and your family for a night with all the rides open. Now if I can only get my kids off he internet…
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