Strasbourg

And finally reaching the end of our holiday in France, we only had one more full day, and we decided to make the most of it.

The day dawned bright and hot and sunny, and we made our way to the boat dock to reserve a trip for the afternoon [recommended action by the tourist office- it gets very crowded!] And then we decided to split up to use the Museum Entry part of our Strasbourg Pass- I went to the Archaeological Museum, and Ruth went to a Decorative Arts museum. She later changed her mind and came to wander around the Archaeological Museum too- she said that I’d made the right choice! It certainly was very interesting. It was very thoroughly set out, with everything from pottery to bones to jewelry, daring from Pre-Historic times to the Romans. I was most interested in the section on the Pagan religions and worshiping practices in the area.

Remains

Remains

Sadly,no Eowyn.

Sadly,no Eowyn.

Graves in the floor.

Graves in the floor.

ooooh

ooooh

At quarter to twelve we went to queue up at the cathedral to see the astronomical clock. This is the third astronomical clock installed in the cathedral, and this one dates from 1843. Us and over fifty other people stood in darkness and watched a short video detailing some of the things that we could expect to see when the five minute show started. The clock was very, very big and incredibly detailed with everything from angels and the 12 disciples to an 18 inch statue of Christ and a life size rooster model that crows three times at half past midday. I think that last one was my favorite part, to be perfectly honest. It was very realistic! But the whole thing was very well done and it’s amazing to think that it still works.

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After that we went to buy a picnic lunch and then to hire bikes! That was another included offer as part of our ever-giving Strasbourg Passes. We decided to bike to the Orangerie Park. We stopped first to eat our lunch in the glaring but nonetheless welcome sun, before biking to the miniature zoo/farm. There were a lot of birds, peacocks and stocks and parrots and flamingos, as well as monkeys, goats and snakes. I was so delighted by the flamingos [they matched my boots!!] that I took about fifty photos of them. Still not sure how I feel about the captivity and living situations of all these animals and birds. As far as captivities go, they seemed like very livable conditions, but I feel like I don’t know enough to judge. I’d rather leave that to someone with more knowledge/experience with animals.

colours!

colours!

Chalet Josephine

Chalet Josephine

FLOWERS

FLOWERS

love hearts.

love hearts.

storks!

storks!

The park was absolutely beautiful, and the trees and flowers were all in bloom, and spring was in the air. Next we cycled to the European Parliment buildings, past the lines of flags, and then back along another leafy track into the city center.

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European Parliment.

European Parliment.

Next item on the agenda was ice cream- of course! I didn’t even have to think about what flavour I would get…peach and raspberry, thank you!

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Ruth opted for a similar colour scheme.

Ruth opted for a similar colour scheme.

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let's stop and admire these flowers.

let’s stop and admire these flowers.

And then it was time for our hour long boat ride, mostly around the area of Petite France and the old town. It was lovely sitting back in a boat, listening to an English [I would have been prepared for German, just saying] audio guide recounting snippets of history as we drifted past old buildings. Actually, the audio guides were very good- they had a wide range of languages including Esperanto! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto

Ruth was very impressed.

The boat was a canal boat, and at one point [two actually- when we came back!] we went through a lock. For those of you who know even less about boats that I do, it’s when the boat goes into a closed area on the river, more water is pushed in, thus raising the level of the water and the boat, and then the boat sails- drives? swims?- forward onto the next, higher level of water. If anyone can explain this better than I can, please do! It was quite exciting as we felt ourselves slowly getting higher, and some of the kids aboard got high fives from passer-byers on the bridge next to us as we got up to their level.

In the lock.

In the lock.

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Views...

Views…

From the boat...

From the boat…

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After the boat ride wandered around the shops a little, mostly window shopping as they were closing. Then it was time for dinner in a Turkish restaurant [apparently we were the latest in a long line of customers to say ‘merhaba’ that night] and a rather [on my behalf] tired walk back to the B&B.

On Friday we had only the morning to wander around, so we did just that. We saw a market with some goats [Important Fact!! goats are very cute!!] and a fish market and it was Good Friday, of course, so people were out buying fish despite the weather being grey and cold and wet. Rather glad it came that day and not the previous one!

Seen in Strasbourg one rainy Friday morning...

Seen in Strasbourg one rainy Friday morning…

Goats!

Goats!

And then it was time to say goodbye to both Ruth and France, and I got on my train back to Switzerland and that was the end of quite possibly the best holiday I’ve ever had. Thank you Ruth for being such a wonderful traveling companion, and putting up with all my selfies! I would love to go back to France- it seems the more that I travel the longer my list of places to travel get! Oh well…

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Last Day in Paris + Strasbourg!

Remember when I thought I was going to write all my France blog posts in the week after I got back? Yeah….

Skipping past the backlog of blog posts that I need to write, let’s go straight to our last day in Paris.

Our train didn’t leave until just after lunch, so we decided to spend the morning at Bibliotheque Nationale. Intended to be the repository of everything published in France, the library’s current building was consecrated in 1996, but it’s origins date back to the Royal Library of Charles X in 1368, in the Louvre Palace.

In the main entrance there were two giant globes, based on designs of  Vincenzo Coronelli from 1681-1683. One was a terrestrial globe, and showed the countries of the earth, albeit in a rather decorative fashion.  No named New Zealand on the map, as it had been discovered at the time but not yet named so. If I remember correctly, Australia was marked ‘inconnu’. The second globe was a celestial one, with illustrations of the heavens and the stars. A lot of mythological stuff, you know.

Globes...

Globes…

We didn’t have a huge amount of time to wander around- I went to watch a video about the installation of the globes, and Ruth wandered around an exhibition about WWI. We both looked at an installation about “Peace”, with the same word written in all the different languages of the world.

"Peace"

“Peace”

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In the courtyard of the library, there was a miniature forest of ancient pine trees, imported from the countryside and planted here, amid their own ecosystem of bugs and insects and other forest plants and greenery. Some of the trees were hundreds of years old!

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Ancient trees in the courtyard of a modern library...

Ancient trees in the courtyard of a modern library…

After the library we went to catch our train, and after waving goodbye to Paris and a several hour train ride, we were in Strasbourg. Ruth had suggested visiting the town, which I didn’t know very much about beforehand. Fun fact- it’s the official seat of the European Parliment! In Eastern France, and very close [fifteen minutes with bike, apparently] to the German border.

We only had one and a half days to explore Strasbourg, so we made our way straight to our bed and breakfast to drop our bags and get started. After a quick trip to the information center, where we each purchased the “Strasbourg Pass”, which just includes tickets to all the major attractions in the town. I have to say, I absolutely love being under 18 and traveling in Europe- so so so many cool things are free to do, and my Strasbourg Pass was automatically worth it just by taking one boat trip.

But that and more we planned to do the next day- that day we just climbed up the cathedral! And I have to say, the view was so spectacular, and it was so very windy, that I can’t tell you very much about the cathedral itself, only that it was old and beautiful, with lots and lots of stairs to get to the top, and very much worth visiting.

 

The cathedral...amazingly Gothic.

The cathedral…amazingly Gothic.

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View from the top

View from the top

Looking down during a break in the seemingly millions of stairs.

Looking down during a break in the seemingly millions of stairs.

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After that we wandered through the area of Strasbourg known as Petite France- the oldest and most famous/touristy part of the town. It was getting dark around then, but we still managed to see a lot of the very picturesque cottages, looking like they’d jumped straight off a biscuit tin.

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Petite France...all the restaurants in that area were very expensive!

Petite France…all the restaurants in that area were very expensive!

And that was Day 1 in Strasbourg!