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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15 comments on “Day 9

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, what an awesome vacation. It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around building any thing for two hundred years. In our culture today people get mad if there house isn’t finished on time. Two hundred year would have taken several generations of workers and master craftsmen to finish it. It always amazes me at the massiveness of these buildings and how they built them with out the modern machinery. What a different world we live in today.

    Having been stationed in Germany for a year and a half during my military years, I saw many local castles. The kind with moats and every thing. No one lives there now and they are mostly on display for tourists. I can’t imagine how long it took to build even a small castle. Some would cover acres within the moat. Almost every town had one. Every town had a town square where the farmers market would be held during the summer months. All the shops around the square were specialty shops. Since few had a refrigerator, daily shopping had to be done. The milk store, bread bakery, meat shop were all in a row and had daily customers. The town I was stationed near was about 3,000 people but had many shops for a small town. It was a good year and half for me.

    Have a great day remembering France.

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    • Bill says:

      We’ve never been to Germany, but Strasbourg is right on the border. We thought we might walk over a bridge into Germany just so we could feel like we’ve been there, but we didn’t have the chance to do that.

      I’m also amazed and impressed by the buildings they were capable of putting up back then, and that they’re still sound after 700 years or more. There are old timber-framed houses in the towns we visited that are that old too, and still occupied. I’m sure you saw some of them when you were in Germany. Here in Virginia something that is 2 or 3 hundred years old is ancient. That’s no big deal in Europe.

      I like the idea of daily shopping and having separate shops for everything (rather than supermarkets). But in our modern hurried lives, with both spouses working away from home, that sort of life seems virtually impossible. There are supermarkets in France now, and they seem to be growing in popularity, even as many of the locals resist going to them.

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  2. avwalters says:

    I’ve not been to Strasbourg. My parents lived their for a summer (as it was the only place they could find immersion language programs in French (for her) and German (for him.)) They loved it. Your photos reveal what appealed to them–that it had the rhythms of a small town. Thankfully, someone forgot to tell Strasbourg that it was a city.

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  3. BeeHappee says:

    Strasbourg and Camus. ❤

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    • Bill says:

      I am such a nerd. In the window of a Paris bookstore across the street from the Sorbonne I saw bottles of organic wine flanked by books by Sartre and Nietzsche. That would look silly and pretentious here, but seemed perfectly normal there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Spectacular! Thank you for sharing.

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    • Bill says:

      Aw thanks. It’s not the kind of thing I usually blog about and I don’t want to be that person who bores people with his vacation pictures. So it makes me glad to see that some people enjoy seeing them. We’ll be returning to vegetables and baby goats soon. 🙂

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  5. Beautiful! The cathedral lit up at night is quite spectacular. It’s kind of nice stretching your vacation out a bit by blogging – remembering all that you enjoyed even though you are “back in the saddle”.

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    • Bill says:

      My original thought was to post while on vacation, as Allison did on her blog. That wasn’t feasible so I then planned to post about it when we returned. But I delayed, and decided I didn’t want to do it all at once. So here it is almost 3 months later and I’m stretching it out, as you say. But I’m finding it fun to go back and look at the pictures now. Only five days left though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. freethnkr1965 says:

    “Because, books.” Just awesome!

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  7. shoreacres says:

    I’ve never really had much of a vision of Strasbourg in my mind, so this was interesting. Of course the cathedral’s impressive — and whoever took the photo of you and Cheri did a great job. The photo of the sidewalk café brought to mind this painting by Van Gogh.

    The only times I’ve live-blogged while traveling was during hurricane evacuations and their aftermath. That was primarily to keep people up to date on real events, and to help keep myself sane. But for vacations/general travel? I’d much rather immerse myself in the experience, and write about it later. I always need time to sort out the important from the unimportant, and to figure out why the important seem so. Shoot, I’ve still got a Kansas story from three years ago to tell. The best part is, I got new details on this trip!

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    • Bill says:

      I used to keep a journal when traveling, to record impressions and to help me remember things. I planned to do that on this trip, but never got started on it. I rationalized that I’d create a post hoc journal with a series of blog posts. I’m not doing a very good job of that. 🙂

      I don’t have your gift for creating beautiful well-crafted stories based on travel experiences. My posts are more like the modern day equivalent of the annoying uncle who always insisted on showing you all his vacation pictures. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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