A Brief Stop in Alsace

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Oct 07, 2009

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Flag of France  , Alsace,
Thursday, October 1, 2009

He Said:

Well, since I was the one who wasn't too sure about spending the night in Strasbourg, I’m pretty much the asshole here. I had a few reasons: 1) The ride from Reims to Munich was set to be a long one, so I thought it might be a good idea to get even closer than Strasbourg, 2) I was really curious to check out a new city in Germany such as Ulm, and 3) I was under the impression that Strasbourg was predominately an industrial-type town that had sustained a lot of damage during the war.  Sometimes traveling is all about last minute decisions that turn out to be can’t-miss surprises, and that’s exactly what Strasbourg became.

Though there aren’t many first class sights in Strasbourg – unless you count the Kronenbourg Brewery that can only be seen with reservations we didn’t have and the EU Parliament which is really just a bunch of politicians – the ambience of the town is a site in itself.  We walked from our hotel near the train station and crossed a bridge over a branch of L’Ill River, which surrounds the historical center of Strasbourg.  We checked out some stained glass in St. Pierre’s, we went into a Virgin Records (an interesting experience in another country), we walked through Place Kleber, and we eventually found our way to Place Gutenberg.  Gutenberg moved to and lived in Strasbourg when he invented the printing press around 1440, and this invention led to the Gutenberg Bible, which is one of the first books ever printed.

The famous cathedral in Strasbourg is massive and impressive for its size alone.  Add in the fact that it survived so many wars, and its pinkish fašade seems even more impressive.  We walked around inside and out and saw the enormous astronomical clock that was built in the 1500s while chomping on some gourmet candy we bought at a nearby shop.

Strasbourg, like other towns in Alsace, has a distinct, half-timber-style architecture that is very German looking – not surprising since this part of France has so often switched back and forth between the French and the Germans.  It makes for some very scenic pedestrian lanes, cafÚs, and winstubs that I couldn’t stop taking photos of.  We eventually found one we liked near the idyllic Petite France section of town, and we had a great Alsatian meal – me with a classic tarte flambee (Alsatian pizza-like dish) and the local brew, Kronenbourg.

We concluded our pleasant, one-night sojourn in Strasbourg by watching the Marseilles-Real Madrid game in the hotel, and we finally found out the correct pronunciation of the region’s famous wine – GewŘrztraminer.  The 'w’ is pronounced as a ‘v’, and the ‘er’ is said with an accent making it sound like ‘air’.  This question had bothered me since the last time we were in Alsace.

Au revoir, France.  A bien tot.

She Said:

Deciding where to go on a whim for a day that isn’t already scheduled into the itinerary used to be our most fun task.  But we quickly discovered that with time restraints, money considerations, and more than just two of us to consider, it’s not that easy.  After looking up train options, researching towns and hotels, and too much deliberation (mostly between Challi), we decided on Strasbourg. 

Although Chad reported it an "industrial city", it turned out to be quite the opposite, with charming (yes, I said charming) half-timbered architecture, great food, and canals running throughout the town.  The cathedral, (because there is one in every city and you’ve got to see each one!), although awesome with rose windows and a spectacular astronomical clock, was not the best I’ve seen.  You know I’ve seen too many cathedrals if I’ve become picky!  We walked though what they call “Petit France” and had a traditional, delicious Alsatian dinner.  Even though I remembered the delicious stew I had last time we were in Alsace and suggested it very highly to everyone else, I decided on the safe stomach option and got a salad.  Bad idea. 

After dinner, we casually strolled through town back to the hotel where we finally got an internet signal.  We tried to do some blogging and catch up on life over the pond back home.  Once again, during my traditional nighttime shower after completely flooding the bathroom, I went to bed for a very early train to Munich!  Oktoberfest, here we come!

Sidebar about euro showers: why can’t Europeans put up shower doors or shower curtains?  No matter how careful you are, the floor gets soaked every time. Do they all take baths?

Pam and Glenn Said:

You could definitely tell the German influence here at this border town.  What an interesting city on the L’Ill River.  We had a great time walking around the old city where Glenn enjoyed a traditional stew of three different kinds of meat.  (If he knew what was in it, he probably wouldn’t have eaten it.)
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