Christmas Markets

I got a letter last week from the nice train people in Marseille. They thanked me for my refund request of a while ago and are assuring me they’re looking into the problem. It’s taken long enough!

Yesterday I went on a trip with Sellappan to Colmar and Kaysersberg in Alsace. We set off early in the morning catching the train to Colmar, hoping to get to Kaysersberg early enough to spend the morning there. Unfortunately, there was a lack of buses between 8 and 11am, meaning that we ended up starting our day in Colmar instead. We had a quick look around the markets, and did some souvenir shopping.

We got the bus to Kaysersberg at about 11, reaching Kaysersberg half an hour later, after a nice trip though the vineyards of the Lower Vosges. Kaysersberg is a beautiful little place, full of gingerbread houses and meandering streets. The atmosphere was amazing, with everyone wandering around wearing santa hats and clutching mugs of steaming mulled wine. Someone even had a bubblemaker spitting soapbubbles into the streets. There was a lot of street entertainment too, ranging from a white Charlie Chaplin style living statue, who enchanted all the passing children, to the obligatory old lady playing the accordion.

The cold added to the general festivity, as everyone huddled together around the market stalls or tried to jam into the already-full restaurants. We needed the hot wine to keep us feeling warm in the street, the only heat coming from the occasional shop we went into, mostly for the heat, too. I came across a shop selling minatures of every liqueur imaginable, including one made from spiced bread – an Alsace tradition – and found some good Christmas gifts.

On the way back from Kaysersberg we bumped into three of the other assistants on their way to Colmar too, so we all wandered around together, taking in most of the markets. As everyone knows, the best thing about Christmas markets is the food, so we made the most of the free samples and got some hotdogs with sauerkraut.

The place was packed, and as the Christmas lights came on we headed home again, to get warm!

This Friday was the Christmas meal for all the teachers working with the assistants. We went to a Moroccan restaurant…for five hours. This is pretty short for French meal standards, and we had a good time chatting. I had meatballs and couscous, followed by ice cream. Not the most Moroccan thing I could have chosen, but very nice all the same. The meal was accompanied by delicious Moroccan bread, which reminded me somewhat of the stotties back home, but darker in colour and slightly spicy.

The terminales and I are getting on quite well now, and they worked hard on their presentations, so we’re having a fun week this week, with minimal writing down of things. I asked each Thursday class what they wanted to do, and they all agreed to learn some Scottish country dancing from me, which I’m hardly qualified to teach, but at least they’ll be bouncing about in the right general direction to some music they’ve not heard before. I’m really looking forward to Thursday!

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