Easter Weekend 2013, Part One: Strasbourg, France

The Friday and Monday surrounding Easter weekend this year were public holidays in Bavaria.  Since I had a long weekend, I decided to do a whirlwind tour through Strasbourg France, Freiburg Germany, Zurich Switzerland, and the Rhine Falls near the Swiss-German border.  I’m going to write about them one at a time, though.  First up, Strasbourg!

I’ve been trying to perfect the art of packing light for my travels, and I think I did very well on this trip.  For a four day, nine train journey to all of the aforementioned places, this was my entire pack, including my DSLR.


I arrived in Strasbourg around 9pm, and made my way to the hotel first to drop off my belongings.  I stayed at the Hotel Cathedrale, and was quite surprised when I arrived to see just how close the hotel was to the Cathédrale Notre Dame.  The entrance to the hotel is just across a courtyard from the Cathedrale, which made my sightseeing the next day quite easy to plan.  Since I arrived into town quite late, I grabbed a quick dinner at The Dubliner’s Irish Pub, a few blocks from the hotel.  I saw the pub on my walk to the hotel, and while I wasn’t in the mood to try local cuisine right away, I know I can always count on tasty food in an Irish pub.  Plus, this is a great way to start the holiday weekend:


Walking back to the hotel from the pub, I snapped this picture.  The entranceway to the Cathedrale is just like one of the large churches I saw in Barcelona, very typical of the time period in which it was constructed.


The hotel also had a variety of gargoyles around the elevators and stairways, to watch over you and protect you while you slept.  I slept very well.


The next morning, I had the hotel breakfast (not bad), and walked out to find the nearest tram station.  From there, I went back to the main train station, because it has an amazing glass dome in front, and I wanted to get a picture.


From there, I made my way back into the center of town, partially by tram and partially on foot.  You can see the tram in the background of this picture of a rather pretty town square.


This building was on my path back to the center of town, and I was utterly fascinated by the giant barrel in front.


After my walk back toward the hotel, I finally went into the Cathedrale.    It’s enormous-  you can get a sense of scale from the people in this photograph.


Inside, the arched roof is amazing.


I’ve noticed memorials to fallen American soldiers in various places around Europe- it’s rather strange (but heartwarming) to see tributes to Americans in all these other random places.


Inside the Cathedrale, there is an astrometric clock that was built in 1838.  There are various moving pieces  on the quarter and half hours.  At 12:30, there is a “procession of the Apostles” on the upper level, and the mechanical roosters even crow.  I’m really not sure how they reproduced the sound of a rooster using mechanical means in the 1800s, but it’s there.


The upper level is Christ-  the Apostles move past him at 12:30.  The lower level shows mankind at different ages, walking past Death.  You can see the old man figure to the right of death in this photo.


In the courtyard outside the Cathedrale, street artists try to get tourists to stop for a sketch.  I saw a lot of these on Charles Bridge in Prague, too.


For a small fee, you can also climb up the 332 steps to the tower platform if you like to see things from tall places, which I really and truly do.  Here’s what the view is like on a mostly clear day:

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Climbing back down the other side, there are some nifty gargoyles keeping watch.  I especially liked this fellow:


After the tower climb, I was good and hungry for some lunch.  I went back to a place I’d spotted earlier, La Crepe Gourmande, on a side street a short walk from the Cathedrale.  I had “Galette Paysanne,” which is a buckwheat crepe or pancake with onions and bacon inside.   Oh, and an egg on top.  It was delicious.


After lunch, I took a boat tour on the river, in these glass topped tour boats.  The audio portion is available in many different languages, including English.  The tour goes through two locks, which is a fascinating experience if you like transportation technology as much as I do.  The tour went past the ARTE headquarters as well as the European parliament, neither of which are pictured here because I didn’t take very many pictures from the boat. I did get a few nice shots, though, and they follow this one.

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Also, since it was a sunny day a lot of people were out on the banks of the L’ill river.  People were reading, walking, holding hands, picnicking.  It was a nice day for that sort of thing.


All that was left after my day of sightseeing in Strasbourg was a nice dinner- I went to Cafe Rohan near the Cathedrale, and had some local Alsace cuisine.  I had Baeckeoffe in a crock pot, which is a beef, lamb and pork stew cooked with potatoes and carrots.  It was delicious, and hearty-  I’m glad I didn’t skip the regional food entirely while I was in Alsace.

Have you ever been to Strasbourg?