Cute Colmar

Saturday, August 05, 2017
Colmar, Grand Est, France
We departed Paris this morning from the Gare de l'Est station, and headed for Colmar. Colmar is a town in the Alsace region known for its canals, flowers, half-timbered houses and major charm. I mean, it's so charming you almost want to hate it. It reminds me of Bruges, but without as many canals, and possibly even more charming and not as big. 
We rode the TGV, and at one point we were going over 200 mph. The scenery was pretty flat, and reminded us of western Iowa, but watching things go by so quickly was incredible. The train was very nice, and we stayed busy by writing postcards and dosing off. 
We arrived at the Colmar station and decided to buy our train tickets to Basel (Switzerland) for tomorrow. This will just be a day trip. We walked 10 minutes to our room at the Ibis Styles, which is also super cute. Colmar definitely has a German feel to it, with it also being close to the border. Walking through a park to our hotel, we could already see huge baskets of flowers. Apparently, home owners and businesses also take great pride in their flowers, and you can tell.  
We strolled the town a bit and received a canal ride at 3:30. After this, Mary thought it would be fun to go to a local pool, so before the trip, I had found a Kroc Center-like indoor pool. It was a good 15-minute walk, and I almost didn't find it, but eventually we did. Now, if there is anything to really make you feel like a foreigner, it's visiting a local pool. I get this first-hand all the time. I've been to local pools in Iceland, Estonia, Germany, you name it, and there is always something you don't know. 
First, we incorrectly assumed that we could rent a towel. Nope. We paid our fee and walked into the (of course) co-ed locker room. An attendant told us we had to remove our shoes. Ok, no problem, and she helped us with the locker key card thingie that is always impossible to figure out. We already had our suits on under our clothes, so that was easy. I decided to grab my phone and take a few pics inside. The shower area was also prevalent before the pool area, as it's customary to actually wash and get wet before going into a foreign pool.
We went inside, and it was nice. Lots of families. Mary jumped in right away, and I started snapping a few photos. I was approached by a worker who I thought was going to yell at me for taking photos, which I would somewhat understand.  She pointed at my swimsuit, which was a tankini that was a little flowy. "This," she said, "not allowed. You need one of those (pointing to a bikini) or just one, meaning a one piece. You speak English?"
Yes, I said, standing in disbelief. 
You don't understand?, she asked. 
"Oh, I understand, I said. "My swimsuit is not acceptable, but the guy who looks like Santa Claus over there with a Speedo barely covering his junk is perfectly fine?"   
She said, pointing to my top, "this is like streetwear."  
I laughed and said, "it actually IS a swimsuit. Do you think I would walk around the street with 3/4 of my boobs showing? Hell no!"
She said, "I know, but that is the rule." I explained that I wouldn't even go in the water, but just wanted to keep an eye on my niece. Then she said that today it was fine, but if I come back next time, I have to wear the correct suit. I wanted to tell her that I was doing her a favor by NOT wearing a two piece, but if all of Colmar wanted to see more of my Wisconsin whiteness, it's on. 
She was actually nice about it, and while I didn't say most of those things (just thought them), it was fine. Mary swam around for a good hour, I dunked in my feet, and then we changed and walked back.
I had read about Caveau St Pierre being a very good restaurant, overlooking the canal and tucked in a corner, off the main drag. We showed up and happened to get the last table outside. I had tarte flambee (Alsace pizza), and Mary had pasta with vegetables. We tried some snails in cream sauce (yum!) and shared a fruit tart for dessert. It was one of the best meals we have had, and in a beautiful area. 
Tomorrow we head to Basel, Switzerland, and it should be a great day! 
Thanks for reading,
Jamie and Mary