We get out for a walk early as Colmar, for its size is a rich little place. We look for work by their famous resident, the 19th century prolific sculptor, A. Bartholdi. In particular, we visit the small scale replica of Lady Liberty, (100 feet high) the piece he created that was ultimately gifted to the U.S.A, i.e. the Statue of Liberty.
We also seek out the Unterlinden Museum in which is the huge Issenheim Altarpiece created in the 1500’s, depicting various realistic scenes from the New Testament; it is acclaimed as one of the most dramatic and moving works of art ever created – and, it is.
Finally, before we leave Colmar, we walk around the pedestrianed old city enjoying the shops. This is a quaint and peaceful place where Albert Schweitzer spent much of his childhood, and is revered for his work.
We then drive a portion of the Route du Vin going through millions of acres of Alsace vineyards with picturesque villages every few kilometers. One we particularly enjoy is Ribeauville. We stop and walk around, spotting a stork sitting on a nest – the nest is on what turns out to be a very large memorial – acknowledging a group of American soldiers who routed the Germans in 1945. As before, the gratitude of the French for the liberation from the Nazis is ever present.
We seek out a stork rehabilitation/reintroduction center, but it is closed. Alsace was always breeding grounds for these birds, but by the ‘80’s there were only two pairs left in the wild. We see numerous places where rooftops have round iron platters mounted on top, to attract the nesting birds. At the moment, most are in Africa, but one was in a nest on the monument.
We decide to have a spot of lunch in this little town and sit outside to enjoy a “tart” – it is like a thin-crusted pizza with Munster cheese, onions, and ham – different. We then proceed to the night’s destination, Strasbourg, a few kilometers west of the Rhine River…..a crossroad between northern Europe and the Mediterranean. We certainly see the evidence of this in the myriad of trucks, from many different countries, on the thoroughfare. And only a few years ago, this land saw residents change nationality four times in 75 years due to war.
The road signs show that we are at the border: both French and German sounding cities – all very strange.