An Experience in ALSACE

We stayed at the small Hotel Le Moulin on a little river.  Having visited many of the big cities in Europe we decided to spend our first days in the Alsace country-side.  We went to sleep listening to the river and woke to bird song and recouped quickly from jet-lag.  Our days were spent exploring the history of a picturesque town nestled between forests and vineyards next to the Vosges Mts.

Hotel Le Moulin

Hotel Le Moulin

 

Just down the road and downstream from  our inn was this Tower built in 1420.

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Tom, my geologist husband, not only admires the architecture of old buildings, but also examines rocks used in construction.

T aeolian ss_pst0198

These sandstone blocks are continental in origin (as opposed to marine) and aeolian (ancient sand dunes).

 

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Picturesque little house on the canal

 

 

 

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Le Patisserie window

 

 

 

 

 

Canal through downtown Wissembourg.  A town far enough off the beaten track that not even the woman at the Tourist Information kiosk spoke English – to my delight! (I used to be able to practice my language skills in Europe, but nowadays it is harder to find someone who doesn’t speak English well!) I was surprised a TI even existed in this town – but there were some German tourists interested in the history and charm.

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Canal through town

 

The photo below shows an old Custom house (on left) used before the European Union, at a small town French-German border.  The little blue sign reads Bundes-Republik Deutschland.

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Nowadays one just drives across.  What a difference it was 25 yrs. ago when a German guard held us for almost an hour since he couldn’t understand my German (understandably), claiming he spoke no English or French (less understandable…what is the likelihood of someone who lives on the border not to speak French?)

I was dying to pee when he finally let us go and as soon as we came to a quiet spot with some trees, I ran into the bushes. I noticed a straight trench that was grown over and partially filled in; with a jolt I recognized it as a World War I trench. On this spot, and in the whole area, so many young men died on both sides.  I will never forget that eerie sensation – more disconcerting than any other gravesite – it was hallowed ground.  It began to thunder and I could almost imagine the fear of hearing the shells overhead.  My great uncle died in WWI – age 18. I looked around and none of the trees were more than 60 years old (I was there in the late 80’s) when the vegetation was annihilated by the war.

Hiking around the other day we found evidence of other WWI trenches.  Nothing worth a picture unfortunately. I wish I had a picture of that trench I discovered on my first trip to the French-German border I remember it as near Strasbourg, but my husband thinks we crossed farther north, near Bitche.  Here is photo from the internet of Canadian soldiers fighting in a trench during WWI.

 

canadian-soldiers-going-over-trench

 

Traveling often yields unexpected experiences: educational,  mind-blowing, humorous or yielding a new understanding and appreciation.  Do you have one to share?

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