Friday, November 02, 2007

Rhine River Cruise Part 2 - Strasbourg

Strasbourg, possibly the best European spot we visited on this trip. Partly due to our earlier than expected embarkation and partly due to our willingness to ditch the lunch on the ship in order to spend more time in this charming French city.

Our boat docked about a ½ hour’s walk from the old city. To reach the center we passed by the old citadel walls, the botanical gardens connected to the University, and the river or canal surrounding the city.

As an aside, whenever we were on our own in a city, we always sought out the W.C.’s. These public toilets (at least for the women) always came with a specific charge or an expected tip, but every one of them were clean and spotless. Well worth ½ a Euro.

As we crossed the bridge going into the center of Strasbourg, we caught our first glimpse of the cathedral. How magnificent and awe-inspiring! It boggles the mind that our ancestors were capable of building such a magnificent structure, yet, the majority of the population dwell in such lowly abodes.

Strasbourg Cathedral draws its fame from the astrological clock which parades about the apostles at noon…except on Sunday when we happened to be there. Thus, we looked at the clock, but missed the procession.
No matter. We did climb up to the top of the cathedral (all 66 meters!). Since it happened to be Sunday we were allowed to climb for free instead of paying 2 Euros for the privilege.

After our climb we scouted around for a place to eat. Shops and cafes in the main square were open to cater to tourists, but the primary retail boulevard rested on Sunday.
After a few wayward turns we ended up at Place Gutenberg, about a block from the cathedral. The place contained a few cafes all with outdoor seating and a double-decker working carousel.
As with every day of our trip, it was a beautiful autumnal afternoon. We sat outside at the Bierstub and ordered a bottle of Alsatian Pinot Gris – a full-bodied, food worthy, white wine. Fruity, yet, fat. (My Dad had a beer.)
For our dining pleasure we indulged in a frisee salad with boiled eggs and lardons, onion tart, Quiche Lorraine, and steak frites. Typical French and oh so yummy! Locals and tourists alike ordered wine served in ceramic pitchers, and feasted on sausages or grandmere’s casserole. My folks also had a view of the cathedral worth a heavy sigh. Aaahhh… The interior of the boit also captivated our imagination with the carved wooden chairs and the painted plaster walls.

After a mighty fine lunch we browsed the tourist shops and came upon La Cure Gourmande, an Artisan Sucrecuitier. A cookie and candy shop! And they offered a seemingly endless supply of samples. Madeleines, nougats, hard fruit candies, and candy-coated chocolate covered almonds (referred to as olives). We needed no other dessert.

We then headed over to Petite France, the oldest part of Strasbourg dating back to the 14th century with the storied half-timbered structures and the cascades of colorful blooms in the multitude of flowerboxes. Expectations well met.

We disembarked from Strasbourg after dinner. Once again we left our cabin curtains open to catch any interesting glimpses as we headed back into Germany. We were not disappointed, but in a more surreal and quite industrial way. We cruised by the BASF chemical plant, apparently, the largest one in the world. The complex carried on for miles and employed 60,000 workers. Basically, a small city. In the morning we docked at Worms…


Eiffel Tartan said...

You got some beautiful pictures of my town! I'm so glad you all enjoyed yourselves. When I was there it was truly like coming home, even though I had never been there before. :) said...

Thank you for sharing your trip.I am in the middle of planning ours for next year and now know where one place that will be included.Your photography is beautiful.
Dianne Sheridan Australia