Saturday, September 28, 2013
I've mentioned before the advantages of visiting a European city on a Sunday. Stores are closed (even supermarkets!) and normally vibrant city centers are absolutely dead--giving me the opportunity to soak up the old town areas in peace--though a big downside being most pastry shops also being closed. That was the plan when arriving in Fribourg, Switzerland (population 36,000) early on a Sunday morning. Well, you can imagine my disappointment in finding a big food and crafts festival going on over the weekend. Though I see quite a few beer garden tents set-up on the shopping streets it's early in the morning and they haven't opened.
Fribourg lies on the border line separating the French-speaking part of Switzerland from the German-speaking. That explains why the University of Fribourg (10,000 students) is home to Switzerland's only bilingual university. But, what makes Fribourg so special is this tidbit: it is home to one of the largest preserved medieval city centers in Europe.
Fribourg is familiar to me as I cycled through years ago to visit several companies having their headquarters here. Heard of Scott Sports? They are a big maker of bicycles, motorsports gear, sportswear and winter equipment. They've been here since 1978 and I visited them in 2004. Villars chocolate has been manufacturing chocolate in Fribourg since 1901 and though my visit was quite a few years ago (2003) I remember the disappointing reception.
See how quiet this street looks, in a few hours it will be packed with people.
Monday, September 9, 2013
I've been to Dijon, France (population 150,000) on multiple occasions
and regulars have received dispatches from those visits. And no, the buildings are not all mustard colored. This trip finds me in Dole (population 25,000), located about 25 miles south of Dijon. What's Dole's claim to fame? It's the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. This French chemist (1822-1895) doesn't receive enough credit for improving our quality of life. He's the man best known for inventing the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization. Did you know Louis (I wonder if his buddies called him Louie?) is also responsible for the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax? His medical discoveries were numerous but, he also made significant discoveries in chemistry. Pasteur's motivations for curing infectious diseases might have something to do with three of his five children dying of typhoid.
It isn't hard to find where Pasteur was born as there are numerous sign's around Dole pointing you in the right direction---like this brown arrow sign.