Welcome back! 🙂
For those of you who haven’t read my previous post, I spent the past weekend in Strasbourg for the Christmas markets (for the post, check it out here).
After a long, tiring journey from Friday to Saturday, I was exploring the streets again on Sunday. Woke up around 8h00, had some breakfast, and decided to go out and properly check out Strasbourg in the daytime.
First went back to Place Kléber, where the lovely Christmas tree was standing. Not a lot of people were out and about yet, so the place was pretty empty.
Next went to the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, which is known to be the tallest one in France. And judging from the looks of it, I can imagine that!
Next decided to head over to Palais Rohan, a building not only known for its baroque architecture, but also for housing three, important museums in the city (the Archaeological museum, the Fine-Arts museum, and the Decorative Arts museum). Didn’t go inside, but nevertheless looked quite lovely from the outside:
It was also located near the quai, where I got fantastic views of the houses by the water. For me, I definitely experienced serious déjà vu, as the sights and sounds reminded me a lot of those in Bruges and Ghent.
Wrapped around the quai, and headed back to Petite France, a picturesque neighborhood which is quite, well, petite. Passed by the musée alsacien (Alsatian Museum) where I visited the following day, and got a bit lost before finding my way to Petite France. Thankfully, Strasbourg isn’t a big city, so many things are within walking distance.
Definitely was very charmed by Petite France, with its cute houses and architecture that are reminiscent of those in Germany (again, Strasbourg has a distinct German influence, mainly because it’s so close to the French-German border). Although not super huge, I was nevertheless delighted at the cuteness of it all:
Wandered a bit some more, bought a few souvenirs from one of the tourist shops, then headed back around 11h30 to Lacie’s flat for a break. Had lunch with her, then around 14h00 took the train for thirty minutes to Colmar, a small town known for being the capital of Alsatian wine (whoohoo!). There were also Christmas markets going on over there, and I found the town even cuter than Strasbourg (although both are wonderful!). There’s also the “Petite Venise,” which is similar to the Petite France in Strasbourg. Lacie showed me the canals in Colmar, surprisingly quiet for such a touristy day like Sunday, and the atmosphere of it all just made me feel…at peace.
Checked out more of the Christmas markets, even bought a cute pillow ornament as a souvenir (definitely a spontaneous purchase). But I swear, it was so adorable, and the design was fantastic:
Any case, it started getting dark around 16h30 (combination of the rain and the winter season), so Lacie and I decided to head back to Strasbourg. Train left twenty minutes late, which was annoying, but in any case we returned to the city close to 18h00, where we rested before she, along with her two housemates, prepared a raclette dinner for the night. They also invited the neighbors from upstairs to join as well.
Now, a raclette is the name of both a type of cheese and the dish that serves the cheese; one melts the cheese on this machine before scraping it off on a pile of boiled potatoes. Also accompanied with onions and charcuterie meats. Very hearty meal, not to forget communal! We started eating around 20h00, along with some wine and salad. Quite delicious and filling- I was super stuffed in the end… 😛
Lacie, who was actually from Australia, offered us some Vegemite and Tim-Tams afterwards. Now, I’ve heard about the notoriety of Vegemite (being “disgusting” and everything), but really, it wasn’t that bad. Especially when Lacie served it with bread and butter- strongly salty, but having it “in moderation” (as she had said) makes it quite nice! And the Tim-Tams were absolutely lovely; she taught us a trick on how to eat them, by biting off corners on the sides before dunking them into a cup of hot tea, and sucking through it like a straw, getting some tea through before popping the rest into one’s mouth. From what I’ve read, this technique is called the “Tim-Tam Slam;” pretty cool and fun! 🙂
Any case, it was getting late; I was super tired, and it didn’t help that I was sick. Started getting sick around Friday, which progressively got worse throughout the weekend. Didn’t help that the guests and Lacie’s housemates kept talking. And talking. And talking. Normally, I am decent when it comes to understanding French, but with the combination of fatigue and the fact that they were speaking rapidly, I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Decided to excuse myself three hours later(!) in order to shower and turn in for the night.
Finally, the guests left around a quarter to midnight, after almost four hours. By then, I was done, and bid everyone goodnight before crashing onto the couch (where I was sleeping). Sweet dreams…
Woke up the next day, and packed for my journey home. Lacie had to teach, so I left with her around 9h00. Bid her goodbye, thanked her for the hospitality, then set off to explore Strasbourg one last time before catching the Ouibus at noon back to Paris, where I would take the train back to Normandy.
Went inside the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Strasbourg (couldn’t do it the previous day, because it had been Sunday), and checked out the astronomical clock that was featured in there. Not as impressive as that in Rouen or in Prague, but not bad. The rest of the church, though, was pretty damn nice.
Next went into the musée alsacien (Alsatian museum), where I got the low-down on the history of the daily life of those living in the Alsace region during the pre-industrial and industrial ages. I got to see what the people wore, as well as layouts of their homes (with the museum a model of one) and other artifacts during the time period. Didn’t spend much time in the museum (since I was on a tight schedule), but nevertheless learned a bit more about this distinctive culture.
Left the museum, and had about an hour before I had to get back to the bus station to catch the Ouibus. Wandered a bit throughout the Christmas markets again, bought myself a mannala (a type of chocolate-chip bread shaped like a gingerbread man, only reserved during the holidays) and a vin chaud (hot wine) as food tokens of my trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try späetzle (small egg noodles), but perhaps another time!
Booked it to the bus station, where I caught the bus back to Paris. Arrived earlier than expected, which gave me some time to get over to Gare Saint-Lazare, as well as buy myself some dinner, before taking the 20h00 train back to Normandy. Arrive a bit past 22h00 in Le Havre, where I stayed the night with another assistant before catching the bus back to my small town the following day, before I had to work.
Overall, a tiring, but worthwhile journey. Although I spent perhaps seventy percent of the time traveling to and from places, nevertheless I saved a ton of money (like, close to sixty percent off) of my travel expenses, as well as didn’t have to pay for accommodation (thank you, Lacie!). Time is definitely money, but I was glad that I was able to get out of town and explore a bit of France before the actual winter holidays come, within the next two weeks. I’m looking forward!
With that being said, I wish you well this December. Take care! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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