Thursday, June 11, 2009

At the crossroad: Strasbourg

Like every weekend, I took a trip (I know I don't write about each and one of them, but trust me, I don't sit around, I'm just a procrastinator so I never get to write about all I want do). The last trip was to Strasbourg to meet up with friends: Russians Ukrainian, Uzbek, a Romanian and our gracious French hosts. A tour of Babel with one common language: French (changes a bit from English being the mother of all tongues). Much fun was had, good food, good wine (Alsatian wines are now my favorites) all in all, good times.

It wasn't suny, still we went out for a visit of the city. There are quite a few things to see and even thought I have visited on different occasions, Strasbourg still manages to surprise me. You can instantly see that it has always been quite a rich part of the world: park, beautiful houses, monuments, a Cathedral that once stood as the highest building in the world.

Strasbourg is a unique place also because of it's history, that of a piece of land that two nations fought over for centuries. An expert eye can tell you only by the architecture that you're not in France, but not in Germany either: Strasbourg has it's own style. And it suits it just fine.

You have the large, central, German-style square and the large, long, almost Haussmann like avenues. And than you see buildings that you won't find in either of these styles.

The young lady climbing a pole will meet a guy right over the boarder between France and Germany.

The Little France reminded me a bit of Amsterdam's canals and riverside cafes, a nice place to stroll around or take a tour in a bateau mouche.

The name of the neighbourhood, one of the oldest and best preserved (a UNESCO Heritage site), is quite a funny story. No, they didn't bring all the French toghether in this strip of land surrounded by water. In fact this was the poor neighbourhood, a sort of Red Quarter with pimps and prostitutes. Of course there were frequent outbreaks of all sort of STD's and because back in the day a sexually transmitted desease was also known as a French desease, the neighbourhood got the name of little France.

Of course, now it's quite expensive and full of tourists, restaurants, cafes, nothing like what it used to be. I think the houses look like ginger bread houses (btw, ginger bread is one of the local specialties, they love it here and it's quite good).

And the Cathedral, Notre Dame de Strasbourg, just one picture of it, but I'll put up more in another post.

There are many strories and legends surrounding this Cathedral. One of them says that the Devil is caught inside and all tourists try to look for it's statue, somewhere on the facade. I dare you to go there and recognize him. The wind is hauling outside the Cathedral, waiting for it's trapped master. The stained glass rosary is also very beautiful and unlike others it doesn't have religious motives but it has to do with the town's wealth and prestige.

And I would have endded this post here, but I have to say a word about the European Union and the buildings related to it. I tried to vote this Sunday, as you know it was election day for the European Parliament (the building is pictured below, see how tiny we are in comparison?).

I didn't manage to vote but I strolled around the neighbourhood where the European buildings are: some old and a bit communist like in style, some new and shinny.

In the posh neighbourhood where all the Consulates are I saw this Art-Nouveau house that reminded me of Barcelona and how much I want to go there and see Gaudi's buildings(apparently the architect on this one also worked with Gaudi).

I really felt like I was in the heart of Europe with all this places and buildings reminding me of placed I visited or want to visit on the old continent. It's a great city, always something to discover. In fact I have more to say on the subject...


  1. I love reading about all of your travels and I so wish to do the same!

  2. @jane: hey thanks for reading. I started writing mainly for friends and family but I find it's a great way to meet new people and share experiences.


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