Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weekend in Alsace

Last Friday we all took a plane to Baden-Baden, for a weekend exploring Alsace. The 6 am flight left us all a bit groggy for the first event, a visit to Rastatt and the Visus Media studios, where we were hosted by Matthias Weyrauch. After a lovely lunch, Tristan gave us a presentation about the studio's work, then a photoshoot, then we were off to the races at Iffezheim. Few were prepared for how fun that was... thanks Matthias for the treat! Here are some photos.

I lost a lot of money on this race (5 euro)

Taking a lap after the race

Matthias' intern; Isabelle, our SIU Coordinator for the trip; Rob J; and Matthias

After the races we warmed up in the bus (it was pretty chilly there, even with Gluhwein, Wurstel and Linsensuppe), we drove off to Strasbourg. Imagine our disappointment when we saw where we were staying (view from my window):

Chateau Pourtales was built in the 18th century as a hunting lodge and soon after expanded to its current proportions. Its famous (repeated) guests included Albert Schweitzer, Friedrich Schiller, and Franz Liszt. There's also a ghost. Its extensive grounds are filled with footpaths that are used by townspeople and students; and they are lined with site-specific contemporary sculpture. Nearby-very near- is a Radfahrweg (bike trail) that winds through three countries, from Frankfurt to Basel.

At this point my camera stopped taking photos. Until we went on a sidetrip to Colmar, which was picturesque enough. Here are photos, without commentary:

Matthias Grunewald's Isenheim Alterpiece:

My camera is in bad shape, or maybe it's the memory card. I don't have shots of the wineries or the wine tastings. Also I don't have any from Strasbourg, although it is of course almost as amazing to a tourist as Colmar. The Cathedral especially. I bought boots at Galleries Lafayette - and they're not practical either. Also I paid retail.

Maybe the highlight of the trip - if you could imagine anything topping those scenes from Colmar - was the bonfire and "BBQ" hosted by Isabelle and Willi at the Chateau. Around 2 big campfires were 26 leisure chairs, and a big grill area out of which would come the most heavenly food - fish, then chicken, then a variety of local sausages, accompanied by seven or eight sauces, salads, breads, and your choice of Alsatian wines and beers. One student declared it her favorite night of the entire Ai Study Abroad program so far. Probably not an exaggeration!

Special thanks to Isabelle and Willi for the fabulous time in Strasbourg and at the Chateau.

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