Day 9

I was reluctant to drive to Strasbourg. I knew it to be a large industrialized city on the Rhine, home of a university and the EU Parliament. I didn’t know it to be much of a tourist destination. But, stubbornly sticking to the itinerary I’d mapped out a few weeks earlier, we left Lorraine, entered Alsace and drove toward Strasbourg.

It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

Without a specific destination in mind, the GPS stops being helpful once we enter a city. At that point we just followed the signs to “Centre.” This is always a good idea for tourists driving in France, as the “Centre” is the oldest part of town. Fortunately the road we were on took us easily into the Centre of Strasbourg, directly to a parking garage with a convenient available space.

We were delighted to find ourselves in a beautiful and charming town, not the crowded frantic city I expected. The cathedral was stunning, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

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Tucked in tightly among the buildings surrounding it, it was impossible to get a photo of the cathedral that captured its immensity and grandeur.

Build from gorgeous sandstone, its color is remarkable. For quite a while it was the tallest building on earth, and remains the tallest structure built in the Middle Ages.

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It was amusing to watch the people who, like me, were trying in vain to photograph the entire front of the cathedral.

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The interior was stunning as well, of course

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This fantastic clock is one of the cathedral’s claims to fame

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Built over the course of a couple hundred years, construction began in the late 12th Century and was finished in the early 15th century, half a century before Columbus sailed west, searching for a shortcut to India.

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This memorial, near the altar, warmed my American heart. Expressions of gratitude like this are common in the parts of France we’ve visited. Thousands of American soldiers died in the campaign to liberate Alsace.

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Open air cafes and markets are common. I bought a Camus novel here. Because, books.

The old part of the city is actually an island. The area alongside the river that surrounds it is lovely.

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The cathedral spire is visible in the background

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We were quite lucky to find a room in the little hotel directly across from the cathedral, which is beautifully illuminated at night.

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During the summer there is an amazing show on the east side of the cathedral, tracing the history of the cathedral with music and lights.

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After a full day, we settled down for the evening. Having not been away from the farm for more than one weekend a year in over 12 years, we were now nine days into our vacation. I worried a little about things back home, but no much. So far, we had no regrets over our long overdue time away.

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