Sometimes I take photos of alleyways that make me gasp, not knowing if I’ve photographed them already. Other times, I find new streets that I am sure I’ve never been down, and a smile spreads across my face as I trot down it, with joy.
And this familiar city can surprise me with events that I never anticipated. This Saturday was the largest market of the year, with the entire city barricaded off to just pedestrians and cyclists. I was expecting more antiques (and regretted not getting the Orthodox Icon) and I had no idea how busy it would be. It was positively overwhelming! You cannot tell from the photos, but you could barely move in the street.
Not only did market vendors set up a booth in every open nook and cranny, stores also had their own racks of Solde merchandise, ready for the picking. I didn’t leave with anything other than some really inexpensive emmental bretzels from Paul (a rarity if you know the franchise Paul).
I lose track of where I’ve been in this city and sometimes come along to parts of it by accident and feel like Indian Jones. That happened today when I just let walking take over, and I ended up on the opposite side of the island in the city centre. The population changes, the storefronts change, and the restaurants have a different vibe (they looked a little more Parisian, despite next to no tourists being present).
I even walked into this woo-woo store (as Jordan calls it) that sold Tibetan and Japanese goods like clothing, housewares, and spiritual items. One of the people working in the shop stopped me on the way out to ask me why my accent sounded so weird, “Is it Italian? It doesn’t sound like an Italian accent but has hints of it.” I explained with a laugh and he proceeded to ask if he could give me a “sound bath” (which is ringing meditation bells around a person) and gave me some free incense.
This is not the first shop owner that has begun treating me like a local. The man who runs the rug shop next to the apartment always waves “Hello,” when he sees me, and even passed along an Iranian salad recipe to me, to make for me and, “[my] love”. A few market stalls are frequented every Tuesday (and every Saturday if I can pull myself out of bed) and the cheese stall owner, the olive dude, and the bread master always say, “Hello” with a bigger smile to their regulars, like myself. They always follow it up with a, “ca va?”
It seems like a small thing or a little kind gesture but it all adds into Strasbourg feeling like home.
I am still as in love with the city as my first day here. And – if you check out the pictures – I did end up grabbing that Hemingway book (in French – It’s actually Hills Like Wild Elephants), as it was only 1EURO50.
That’s another thing that separates Strasbourg from Paris: the prices in stores, in the markets, in the restaurants, in the grocery shops, are all significantly lower than the prices in Paris. It’s almost shocking.
And if you’re wondering (because you know I’m a fan), I didn’t grab the copy of Le Petit Prince; it was too similar to other editions I have, including a French edition I brought with me. I really like my collection to be unique.
The windows are open letting in the breeze from the rain that’s falling.
The heatwave has passed.
I am happy.
Life is swell.
What was life like before all this? Before Jordan?? I do not recall. I truly have no recollection.
Follow your dreams, people, because it makes every day like a fantasy.