We headed to France today, but only just. Strasbourg is a town right on the border between France and Germany, making it a perfect quick day-trip for a few of us to check out. We got off to a later start than I’d have liked, but thankfully the city is only about 1.5 hours from us so we arrived shortly before noon. We parked near the city center, just a short walk from the main cathedral, “Our Lady of Strasbourg”. The church was not yet open for visitors so we circled the building, grabbed some pictures, and went exploring through the city streets.
Everything there is densely packed, but after getting lost in a few narrow alleyways we found a plaza housing some beautiful old-style buildings. Steep roofs and wooden frames with colorful paint give the town a fairy-tale feel. We found some neat art installations at the plaza, with children running around, playing and having fun in the open square. When you visit a place like this it’s easy to forget that people actually live here; seeing the children playing rather than staring at the beautiful scenery was a little surreal until I remembered that.
We stopped in for lunch at a place which served Flammkuchen, as we had been told to try it here. Flammkuchen is similar to pizza if it were served on very flat bread, with less sauce and some interesting toppings. We had some normal ingredients like bacon and mushroom, but also goat cheese, honey, and cucumbers. The food tasted great and the price was very reasonable. We ate our fill and thought we had finished the meal when the waitress brought out a second round of platters, explaining to us that we had only been served half of our food. Despite our claims that we were full just seconds prior, we had no trouble finishing the second round of Flammkuchen and left the restaurant warm and happy.
After lunch, we circled back towards the now-open cathedral and toured the inside. One of the guys with us had never seen a major church before and was blown away by the scale of it all. Beautiful stained glass bathed the main corridor in a medley of colors, and Gothic decorations lined the walls in an imposing fashion. We made our rounds through the church and stepped outside to wait in line to visit the roof. After a long narrow climb we were treated to awesome views overlooking the city. From our vantage point we could make out the sprawling expanse of religious, residential, and commercial buildings and the surrounding countryside.
We made our way down to ground level, then ducked into a small cafe to grab some Macaroons. I had never had the small pastries before and I was not disappointed. While they were a little expensive, the small treats tasted great, and featured a small gelato filling. The weather was cold for frozen treats, but we ignored the temperature as we enjoyed our dessert. I had vanilla, pistachio, and hazelnut. Surprisingly, the vanilla was my favorite; I thought the unusual flavors would appeal to me more, but the strong vanilla flavor couldn’t be beat.
After dessert, we wandered around some old streets for awhile before finding our car again. We drove along the river on a makeshift “river cruise”. We saw tons of bridges over the Rhine river, including a nicely decorated church sitting right in the middle of the river. We parked near some official-looking buildings and walked through some gardens. We didn’t spend a ton of time here – people wanted to head home in time to celebrate one other trainee’s birthday a few days early. Someone let slip that my birthday had happened on this past Thursday, so I was dragged out to join in on the celebrations in Stuttgart.
I enjoyed my brief stint in France, and may add more towns to my wishlist for future trips. I realize that Strasburg has a very German feel to it; to experience more of France would require me to venture further past the border. Perhaps I’ll make that happen. Until then..
Best wishes and safe travels everyone!