Saturday, October 22, 2016
As this was the last weekend, Myriam and Thierry felt a trip to Strasbourg was in order, and who was I to refuse? Strasbourg is an Alsatian city very close to the border of Germany. Within its 'Petite France' quarter are many examples of Germanic-inspired architecture. It is beyond quaint, with its medieval, timbered houses and copious branches of the river Ill. The city is architected so that the river is divided by structures several times, allowing for many water views and walkways. Our main touring was done on foot, meandering along the banks, taking note of the ancient buildings, stopping for a bretzel (soft, salted pretzel), and just generally soaking in the atmosphere. We stopped at the cathedral, the second most visited one in France after Paris' Notre Dame (personally, I think the one in Chartres should have this honor instead). For lunch, we dined in one of the 'winstubs,' or homey, Alsace restaurants that abound in the old neighbourhood. Ben would have loved it, as many of the offerings are akin to heavier, German fare. Myriam and Thierry selected 'choucoutre' (sauerkraut with sausage and ham); Nico, a 'flammekueche' (a cross between a pizza and quiche Lorraine with cream sauce, cheese and bacon -- sadly, he chose Munster); and I, a veal cordon bleu, in which I was not disappointed! It was very filling and held us for the rest of the day. Strasbourg is very walkable as many of the streets have been reclaimed from the cars and are now well-used pedestrian walkways. They also have a great tramway and many bike paths, being very successful in their efforts to transform the city into an environmentally-minded space.
On the way out of the city, we stopped briefly at the European Parliament; although much of the work is carried out in Brussels, the parliament is legally bound to meet in Strasbourg twelve times a year so there is much controversy about the heavy financial burden this imposes on the budget, for what seems to be inopportune and unnecessary. Nearby is the building for the European Council, an organization founded after the second world war to promote democracy and human rights in Europe. I would have liked to see inside and, if Ben were with me, we likely would have found a way, but as it was, the day was growing long and there was still a two hour trip back. The evening was spent digesting, preparing for the next big meal, planned for tomorrow.