Sunday, September 10, 2017

[STRASBOURG] The French Daytrip

Strasbourg has a long history of switching sides. I think this is true for the entire region of Alsace-Lorraine, though. It must be inevitable when you are a city lying just across the border. With the long history of animosity between the Germans and the French, this area has always been crucial in defining their political borders. But one thing hasn’t really changed, and that is the mere fact that this region has always been on the tourist map. Nowadays, it’s a mini metropolis just an hour away from Freiburg. Daytrip!

To be honest, I wasn’t really planning to go back to France. You know. French Embassy denies you a visa. German Embassy grants you one. But then I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to cross the border, take an awesome FUCK-YOU selfie, post it on Facebook, and then tag my favorite embassy? It sounds juvenile, yeah, but hella fun. The trip has since evolved into a reunion of sorts, with some friends from Paris deciding to drop by to join the daytrip. At this point, I just have no fucks left to give to random embassies.

Strasbourg was a pleasant surprise. The walk from the bus station to the city center took less than 10 minutes. As with most cities with a preserved old town, the cobblestoned streets and narrow alleys serve as your cue that you have reached your destination. As it was a Sunday, most shops were closed, but the tourists would start multiplying later on during the day. My first tourist attraction was that area with the museum and the bridge where you can hop on a boat with a glass roof for a historical tour.

The city has plenty of these small houses with a distinct style representative of the region. They usually have two to three stories and the façade is laced with black or brown geometrical patterns that make the whole thing resemble a cake. It sounds weird to have that certain kind of reaction to a house, like it’s so yummy I want to eat it, but that’s just how I felt seeing them. But not all of the houses looked like that. Some were colorful enough and many of them just compete for your attention.

The plan was to head straight to the Airbnb place where my friends were staying, but the Notre Dame cathedral was such an apparition that I just had to stop and take a plethora of photos. I guess I simply got used to the same boring architectural style of cathedrals in Germany. I’ve seen cathedrals constructed in Gothic style before, but not a lot. I haven’t seen the Notre Dame in Paris so I have no point of comparison, but Strasbourg’s felt quite surreal. I mean, not Sagrada Familia kind of surreal, but it’s impressive like that.

I guess what really grabbed my attention were the intricate details. The mini spires and the sculptures on each area of the façade are just so intricate. If you know something about architecture or you are a big fan of it, then you’d probably be spending a lot of time just admiring the design. The interior is just as magnificent with all the stained-glass paintings placed in lieu of windows. Surprisingly, photography inside is allowed, but wearing any kind of cap or hat is forbidden. That, I found rather weird.

We just went back to that same area after they checked out from their Airbnb room. After a good lunch at Le Pfifferbriader, we checked out the river once again and took photos. We didn’t have much time to spare so we sort of ended our Strasbourg excursion at Notre Dame. Somehow they felt that they haven’t seen much. I think the city has more to offer, but judging on the number of photos and videos I took, I think I can say that I have seen A LOT. Sometimes it’s not just about the land area you cover.

Or maybe there are cities where you can stay in one place and just stare at the same thing for half a day and be totally satisfied with it. That’s what Strasbourg was to me, at least. Even if you chain me to a bridge by the Rhine, I wouldn’t mind. If I could paint, I would. Now I know where the inspiration for those old school paintings of these towns came from. After they boarded the train to Paris, their friend took me to this area called Petite France. It’s a pity that they missed it because the views were awesome!

True enough, from the perspective of a local, Petite France IS representative of Strasbourg. This is the opposite view coming from tourists who hail the cathedral as the only thing you have to see to say that you’ve been to Alsace. I guess I’ll have to agree with the local on this one. From that ex-prison/bridge at Petite France, you can see most of the attractions the city has to offer in a panoramic view, the Notre Dame included. I can only imagine how awesome the views are at night!
[STRASBOURG] The French Daytrip
[GRAND-EST] Budget and Itinerary

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