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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Strasbourg- the old and the modern city

Like so many of the smaller idyllic, picturesque towns, Strasbourg has an old part of town and preserved its medieval houses.
You may know that Strasbourg is the seat of several European institutions, such as the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights, its European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Audiovisual Observatory) and the Eurocorps, as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union. The city is also the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine and the International Institute of Human Rights. A pretty nice, cosy quarter of town where these buildings are situated. I could certainly live here. And they have Italian ice cream Gelaterias! An extra bonus as my Irish housekeeper would say.
It is also only a day trip away from Frankfurt and you can tie it in with the Black Forest.

Most tourists are interested to see the cute, photogenic houses in their twisting lanes with the Cathedral of Notre Dame completed in all its Gothic splendor in 1439.

We were there on a Friday afternoon and picked up my best friend who came on one of these long distance buses for a very keen price: EUR 41. The train ticket would have set her back by over 200!
Naturally we ambled straight to the Cathedral...like everybody else.In other words:it was busy.But I have never been to Strasbourg or any of the other Alsatian towns when it as not busy.
 The altar area fascinated me most because of the blue shine it had in this light anyway. The multi-colored glass stained windows would have been worth many shots too.

Here are some street impressions that make you want to go- if you have the travel bug like me that is.

With hundreds of restaurants vying for your business it is always hard to tell the good ones from the tourist rip-offs. The closer you get to a tourist attraction like the Cathedral, be aware that some of these great sounding or looking restaurants don't need to offer great food and service because busloads of more tourists will come every day. Maison Kammerzell is the most renowned, maybe oldest house with the longest tradition. My friend had fond memories of eating their as a youngster with her parents there. So naturally we did her the favor and headed there. At the higher end of the price scale as expected, we had a wonderful seat outside overlooking the madding  crowds.
The restaurant was busy, I give them that but service was bad. We waited for our food almost an hour and when it came, mine was cold. I like my food warmer and usually, here in the States, ask them just to zap it. We waited another 30 min. By then hubby and my friend were through their dishes, kindly   sharing them with me. My appetite was gone and I hungered for another ice-cream, honestly. The management was not pleased when I told them I had lost my appetite and was unwilling to eat the food when it eventually appeared; never mind pay for it. In an establishment like this, I had expected they'd warn us that one of the dishes needed extra time for fresh preparation and maybe send an appetizer together with an apology. Not so. 
Well, I had room for what I was yearning for now.Got it on the way back thru the busy streets. There is so much more to see but the heat of almost 90 degrees had worn us out already.

Lonely Planet says, "History seeps through the twisting lanes and cafe-rimmed plazas of Grande Île, Strasbourg's Unesco World Heritage-listed island bordered by the River Ill. These streets – with their photogenic line-up of wonky, timber-framed houses in sherbet colours – are made for aimless ambling...The alleys are at their most atmospheric when lantern-lit at night."

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/alsace-and-lorraine/strasbourg/sights/neighbourhoods-villages/grande-le#ixzz3kWnSZcoU"

While sitting outside the restaurant, four heavily armed French soldiers made their way through the crowd. We had read that Strasbourg's Cathedral was among the most protected historic buildings in Europe in these terrorist endangered times. The next morning, we woke up to the terrible news of the attempted attack on the Amsterdam- Paris train, Thalys, which was prevented by three brave American young men, tourists themselves on their way to see Paris.

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