This was another transition day as we moved from the modern urban centrum of Milan, Italy, to the historic capital of Alsace, France – Strasbourg. While not much happens at our start and end points, our journey / commute is where we find some points to discuss.
I have heard a joke since I moved to Europe. It goes something like this…
What do you call someone who speaks more than three languages? Polyglot.
What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks only one language? American.
I find it is a very true reflection of a tendency for Americans to only speak English. I defend my homeland by explaining that there are 340 million English speakers in the USA and over 1 Billion over the whole world. It makes sense that we have only mastered English. Another reason is the mere size of our country. For most people in the USA they would have to drive a 1000 miles to find a another country with a different language. Here in the Netherlands where I live, I can drive 1 hour east and speak German, 1 hour south and speak French, 1 hour west to the UK and speak English, while having at least three distinct dialects here in the Netherlands alone.
Anyways, I have been very proud of my building language skills. I do not want to be an example of the joke, I want to be an exception. I am fully bilingual already with Spanish. I am learning Dutch and I try to use other languages when I am in their country.
On this travel day we had breakfast in Italy in Italian, had lunch in German in Switzerland and finished the day in France with French. My middle aged brain was quite fried by the end of the day. I consistently embarrass my son as I literally mix three languages in one sentence and completely confuse the waiters and hotel staff.
So, the interesting part of our day beyond my multilingual difficulties were the views along the way in Switzerland and a side trip to Colmar, France.
We have now been in Switzerland every year we have been here. It is such a beautiful place and we of course love the peace and tranquility that we find there. While we raced over the Alps from the Italian border until the French countryside my wife grabbed a few snaps (in honor or our Australian friends) as we sped along at 130 KM.
We moved along our path and took a late afternoon detour to Colmar, France in the Alsace province of France. It considers itself the capital of Alsatian Wine of which we are fond of Gewürztraminer. Colmar is the home town of the the sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty. We neglected to take a picture of the Statue or Liberty that they have there, because the only other one we had ever seen besides in New York Harbor and in Paris was advertising a brothel in Sint. Truiden, Belgium. It was only later that we learned the statue’s sculptor hailed from Colmar.
Colmar is a beautiful little town with a quaint downtown central market. It is very picturesque and was well worth the mini stop we did there on our way to the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg.
Once in Strasbourg, we did settle in for the evening and I had a wonderful Alsatian dinner of sauerkraut and a variety of simmered meats. It is called choucroute in French and it is a wonderful heavy meal for a wonderful heavy guy.