Well we had a good week since I wrote last. I finished up the Fall Semester and started the Winter Term at school. We had a wonderful weekend in Colmar, France. Julie got the house all decorated for Christmas, and I think we have all the plans finalized for the kids coming in two weeks! Below is my contribution to the Christmas Decorations. I wrap the lights around the balcony rail and hang the star. Well I also carry up the rest of the decorations from the basement.
I have to admit it was a good but strange feeling know that as long as I do no worse than a C- on the finals I had an A locked up in the classes. Well one of them that is a guess. I have never seen a class where it took so long to get grades back. Many of us have complained to the professor this semester how long it has taken. In fact two of the assignments from the first weeks of class have not been graded. I had a problem with the last lab and wound up having to delete my virtual computers and re-create them. I told the professor that I am very angry that because he is 4 weeks behind in grading that I had to redo three of the previous labs. He worked with me, and decided that with everything I had already turned in for the computer labs, there was no reason to access the virtual computers. So that was helpful. I only had to re-do one computer lab. I am really glad that class is over. I learned a lot, but it was a disorganized mess from the very first. The class I am taking this winter term unfortunately means I will be waking up at 2:30 multiple Wednesday mornings to attend the lecture.
The lectures are always recorded but there are times I prefer to attend live. For example: There is a case due this coming weekend. My group is struggling a little so I want to attend live to ask questions so that I can work on it tomorrow afternoon. I have learned that the time difference does make this school thing harder. If I wake up in the morning, and need to ask a question I know that I will not get an answer back until late afternoon. Well that just means I have wasted a good 5 or 6 hours!
We have been to Colmar before. It is a cute little town about 100 miles from where we live. We had been told that Colmar goes all out for the Holiday celebration so we wanted to see for ourselves. It turns out at least the old part of town does go all out. The majority of the buildings are well decorated; so it is really pretty during the day. At night, though, it almost seems magical. The picture above is of the Cathedral. Many buildings have fantastic light shows that begin as soon as the sun goes down and lasts through at least midnight. (Maybe later, but we are getting old, so staying up past 12 is a chore!) I finally stopped taking pictures, because I realized none of the pictures were really doing justice to how great everything was displayed.
Julie really liked the markets. It seemed like every plaza big enough to have three or four booths had a market going. The ONLY problem is that they closed at 8:00 PM. Thinking about it, though, what a GREAT idea for all the permanent bars and restaurants. They get extra traffic because once the Glühwein and Grog booths close for the night everyone wants to keep the party going! The markets stalls were not at all like Prague. The majority of the goods seemed to be local, or at least within Europe. Whereas in Prague it seemed like every booth had Made in China everywhere. She didn’t buy much, but she did have a blast looking. Julie did make me go shopping though. 🙁
She has a Christmas party with her Boss next week, and she made me go buy a sweater because the only sweaters I own are over 10 years old. Once again I learned that I hate clothes shopping here. Back in the US I rarely even need to try something on. I know my size, and brands I like; so I just go pick something off the shelf. That doesn’t work here. We went into a men’s store, and a clerk came over to help. Julie told her what we were looking for, and she went and grabbed a size. She seemed surprised when I tried it on, and told her it wouldn’t fit. She had grabbed an XL. It turned out I bought two sweaters, and had to buy two different sizes. They were that different. I almost didn’t try on the second sweater because I figured it would be like in the US a size is a size. NOPE. The second sweater in the same size could have held two Georges. It was that much bigger. I hope I don’t gain much weight this year, because since I won’t be back in the US until next November, I have a long time to go if my clothes don’t fit.
We had a fun adventure Friday getting to the town. We normally stay in hotels, but since we decided to do this late, I could not find a room in the city limits. I did find an apartment we could stay in, though. The apartment was on the small side, but it was smack in the middle of where we wanted to be. It came with a parking space; so I thought it would be perfect. I did not account for how big the Christmas Markets are, however, nor did I account for the city closing all the streets that would let me get to the apartment building. It was one of those times I disliked modern technology. All of the mapping programs showed me only one way to get to the building. I tried driving to a different part of town, hoping Maps would re-route and show me a different way, but my hopes were short lived. We wound up having to park about a kilometer away from the hotel and walk in. In one way this was a good thing, though, because it meant I would not have had to fight the streets two times Friday evening. Once going to the apartment, and then having to leave because the remote control for the garage was not in the lock box it was supposed to sit. So I would have had to drive OUT of the mess because there is no street parking at the apartment building. I think what irritated me the most out of the parking was when I got a message Saturday morning from the rental company. Letting me know that all of the roads into the building would be closed unless I came in after 9:00 PM….. I kept asking myself where was this information last night when it would have helped. We would have either delayed our arrival, or just made a plan to find a parking spot. Oh well, sometimes a little adventure is good for the soul.
Saturday evening we found a nice place to eat dinner. I think we have eaten better in France than any other country we have visited. Italy would come in second, but I like French food a little more. I was glad that neither Julie or I speak French. We had a small issue with our waiter. We ordered a really nice bottle of wine. As the waiter was opening it he swore and I saw that the cork was in pieces. He went and got a second bottle, but he managed to tear the cork in that one as well. I admit to not being truly aware of what our response should be. If I were at home, I would have simply gotten the cork out, and strained the wine into a decanter to catch the cork. But he didn’t do any of that. He took both wine bottles away so we could not see what he did with the remains of the cork, and came back and tried to serve one of the bottles. I refused the bottle, and told him not worry about it, just bring us a bottle of water instead. He brought out a THIRD bottle of wine. At least he was able to get the cork out of that one, but I really do not want to know what he was saying about me as he opened the bottle. I got back home, and went to the internet for guidance. I have learned that what I should have done was taste the wine that was offered. If I could taste the cork, then I should have refused the wine, but not until I tasted it. Julie and I kind of thought since they took the bottle away we should not drink it. After thinking about it, though, that doesn’t make sense. They make mixed drinks away from the table, and they are certainly not cooking our dinner in front of us; so why would we think they did something nefarious with the wine? I just hope they don’t take the cost of the wine out of his paycheck.
This weekend we are staying around home. We are having dinner with some friends on Saturday and going to some of the local Christmas Markets on Thursday evening, and Sunday. In two weekends, we are heading to Innsbruck, Austria for the weekend. That should be fun, it will be our first real visit to Austria. I say real visit, because we have driven through the country, and visited for a day, but never longer. After our Austria trip, we have a couple of days to prepare, and we get to see the kids again. We are both excited about that.
I hope all your Christmas preparations are coming along, and that. you enjoy the pictures from Colmar. Talk to you soon.