Monday, 21 June 2010

Into the valley

I leave for the Euromineral show in Sainte-Marie aux Mines, Alsace tomorrow morning. It's the smaller of the two shows I regularly go to, but cheaper and offers a few different dealers. It's not exactly tiny - there are around 900 dealers and over 20,000 visitors. The setting is refreshingly green after the desert of Tucson, too. It's close to the German and Swiss borders, in an area famous for its wines, and every little village has its own vineyards. If I wasn't working so hard, I might be able to go around a few and try some. And nearby is Montagne des Singes - Monkey Mountain. This is as great as it sounds - a fenced-off hilltop full of Barbary macaques. I've probably mentioned this before, but it's worth bringing it up again. There are also a lot of storks flapping around. Storks are good.

Sainte-Marie aux Mines was a silver mining town and Euromineral has its origins in a local mining exhibition in 1962, which developed into a regular event and then a small scale trade show after only four years. It has grown steadily ever since, and now takes over the town for around a week as the streets are closed and tents put up. The locals put up with a lot of noise and mess for a while, but the town does well from it and everyone is generally made very welcome.

I used to camp in one of the town's two campsites but prices rose, amenities declined and I gave up a few years ago. Now I stay with a group of friends in an organic cider farm a few miles away. Lovely place, but can get busy with mosquitoes. Riley will be running the shop while I'm away.

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