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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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…