Milan to Colmar

Eleven nights down and second country finished. Time to leave Italy and its incredible food. But first some early morning photos of Milan, perfect time to get a good shot of the Duomo with no one else there. Well no one but a 6am wedding photo shoot that is… Not the first 6am wedding shoot I have encountered in Europe.

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Milan Centrale is the train station you would expect Milan to have. It is as rich and glamorous as the city itself. An opulent, majestic structure.

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Milan to Basel is about a 4 hour trip. My plan was to spend a couple of hours in Basel before taking the short trip from Basel to Colmar. The train ride was, once again, comfortable and scenic. This was my first glimpse of Switzerland and hopefully won’t be my last. We passed through many beautiful small towns. Of which all of my photos from the train are awful.

Unfortunately it rained for most of the trip. When I arrived in Basel it really looked like one of those days when the rain was just not going to let up. I made the decision to skip Basel and catch an earlier train to Colmar. I’ll have to save a closer look at Switzerland for another trip.

Basel station was a bit of a mess when I was there in May. Mind you, the selection of pastries on offer was awesome 😀 Basel is right on the border of Switzerland and France and the train station actually has French and Swiss sections. But with a lot of work going on the French section was a little hard to find and involved a walk in the rain. But I eventually figured it out and found my platform. I did have to purchase my ticket at the SBB (Swiss rail) office as the French machine wasn’t very user friendly despite an English language button. It was easier to talk to a human. This was a regional train, thus didn’t require booking ahead.

It is about a 45 min trip to Colmar from Basel. Why did I choose Colmar as a location? Every list of beautiful towns ever features Colmar. Colmar has cobblestone streets, picturesque canals and streets and streets filled with half timbered buildings. I had been interested in seeing the Alsace region for a long time, both to photograph and for the food. It is located so close to Germany and at times has been part of Germany so there is a lot of crossover of food, architecture and culture. Once there I realised that there is quite a Swiss influence as well given how close it is too.

I wonder if the guy at Colmar station thought I was taking a photo of him.

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I was staying at another airbnb in Colmar, right in the heart of the historic part of the city. Colmar is actually quite big and has a modern, by French standards, section where the train station is and then the older picturesque section. I had seen a lot of photos but had presumed the historic centre wouldn’t be very big. How wrong I was! I found this canine friend on the walk from the station, reminding me of my own black poodle at home.

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It was about a 20 minute walk from the station and I got a little confused by street numbers but eventually found my apartment and host, right across from the Cathedral. Perfect position. Beautiful apartment with everything you could ever need, and a much welcome washing machine! It was upstairs in a building with stairs that were so old and warped that even I decided it was worth using the lift! Washing on, it was time to explore.

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I had already walked past some lovely areas as I made my way to the apartment but as I walked and walked I realised how little I had seen and how huge the historic area was. So many buildings looked like they were straight out of Beauty and the Beast! I walked and took photos for a couple of hours and was completely taken in by how cute this amazing city was. I had been feeling a little flat, thinking a lot about my Dad and missing him and this city was exactly what I needed. I could simply wander and lose myself in photography.

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I made a visit to the local tourist office. My plans for the next few days were loosely structured around visiting some nearby villages. The office was helpful with maps and bus timetables that enabled me to solidify my plans.

Dinner was by one of the picturesque canals. Flammkuchen (German) or tarte flambe (French) is the iconic local dish. Basically a very thin pizza dough covered in cream cheese, onions and bacon. I also tried the local wine Gewürztraminer. Both were delicious.

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A bit more wandering and an early night rounded off a great but tiring day that saw me in three countries.

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