Tasha & Kiri's Winter En France travel blog

Tannenbaum

Stern und Krippe

Street sledding on Christmas Day

Christmas Day wintry walk along the lakeshore of Bodensee\ Lake Constance

Doro my German exchange partnerin

hiking in to the Bodenwald farm Boxing Day

going to the Bodenwald

Aussicht (Lookout) from the Bodenwald ridge

Opa Biehler Kiri and little cousin looking at bison

Falco, the big bull bison


Christmas in Konstanz

Ah, Christmas! The time of year we associate with togetherness with family and friends. And here we are, thousands of kilometres away, on the other side of an ocean… And yet, what a lovely “family” Christmas we had at the home of “Familie Biehler” in Konstanz!

Our train from Strasbourg went through the centre of the Black Forest, which has always seemed a special place to me (maybe because I love its special cake? and also its mysterious name! and the characteristic farm houses nestled into steep valleys, which we glimpsed from the train…) We were met at the train station in Konstanz – and it was so good to see the friendly face of my old German exchange “Papa” again! And then, to come “home” to the house where I had lived for several months when I was a teenager, and find that it was pretty much the same, with “Mama” greeting us at the front door. Who says you can’t go home again? (I have been back here 3 times since my original exchange in 1979. Every visit has been a happy reunion.)

The next day, Christmas Eve, my German exchange partner, Doro, arrived from Basel with her husband and 3 children. Christmas Eve is when most of Europe celebrates, and so in the early evening we all trooped across the street to brother Markus’ house for the Christmas gathering, present opening, and delicious Christmas feast. Although unexpected, there were even a few thoughtful gifts for Kiri and me. It was all lovely. And, to top it off, it started to snow! The first white Christmas in many decades, we were told! So, although we certainly thought of family and friends at home in Canada, we can’t say that we really missed you. Sorry! We hope the same for you!

Christmas Day it was snowy enough to take the kids out sledding… And, of course, there was more feasting…

And on Boxing Day we all went to the Bodenwald, a half hour’s drive away, where Papa Biehler and his brothers (and now extended family) raise bison! They have been doing this for 40 years now. So again, Kiri and I got to do some wwoofing-style work, mucking out the stable area where the bison come for hay, and filling the hay mangers. It was not only beautifully snowy, but gloriously sunny as well – a perfect winter wonderland for a Christmas outing!

The rest of the week was spent much as we would have with my own family: small walks, card and board games, sleeping in, eating and more eating, visiting with the cousins, … Fortunately, Doro’s kids also speak French, having been raised in Switzerland with a French father, and Markus’ 2 girls have learned a little English in school, so they all could communicate with Kirianne more or less.

New Year’s Eve was a little sombre, because Pa came down with a sudden stomach flu. Because of his past history of heart problems, my recent experience with my mom’s heart attack which manifest itself with initial symptoms of stomach upset and nausea, and the very sudden and painful onset of this stomach complaint, we were all a little anxious about it, whether we should take him to the hospital, …

So our enjoyment of the fireworks and the bottle of champagne were half-hearted. Happily, Pa is back on his feet again as I write this on January 2.

So next… Kirianne and I search for another WWOOFing host in the south of France. So far, I have received no invitations from my earlier outreach. We can stay here for another week, I estimate, before we will have worn out our welcome. Afterwards we’ll stop for a couple of days in Basel to see where Doro lives. Then we’ll head to the south of France and work it out as we go!

We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

With love,

Tasha and Kirianne



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