Starting October 3rd and continuing for about 2 weeks, Germany pretty much shuts down to celebrate the tearing down of The Berlin Wall. In light of many shops and services becoming unavailable here in Germany for the next two weeks, Marylou and Jim's arrival, and Daniel's newfound free time we decided to make the 2 hour drive to Strasbourg France! Bonjour!!
The 800,000 strong Strasbourg, established in 12 BC as a Roman camp, sits pretty much on the border of France and Germany. It serves as the seat for the European Parliament. It is an important center of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail and river communications. It is the second biggest port on the Rhine River.
Our first stop was at the sandstone Roman Catholic cathedral, built in 1100. The gothic architecture with the heads of evil creatures adorning its walls, mouths open wide, would surely scare any Christian into submission! At 466 feet tall, it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874. Today, it is the world's highest still standing structure entirely built in the middle ages. I was a bit nervous to be quite honest walking the square outside the cathedral, and even the cathedral itself. It was definitely an mixed crowd including quite a few beggars on the front steps. Sure enough, one of the first items to draw our attention was the cautionary note of pick pockets displayed on the pillars of the Cathedral. Luggage locks are always a good idea. The cathedral also houses one of the very first astronomical clocks. The artwork in this cathedral is incredible.
From the cathedral we perused the historic center. Streets constructed long before the birth of our country were lined with quaint store fronts and vendors selling everything from hats to roasted chestnuts. We bought some chestnuts that were quite mushier than I anticipated. Nice flavor though!
We had a late lunch at an outdoor Italian cafe where Marylou and Jim sipped wine and the kids finished off with heaping cups of chocolate mousse.
With a stroll along the riverside streets and over Medieval bridges linking the historic center with the rest of the city, it was a gorgeous day. The kids took a small bit of time to play on a riverside playground where a mix of French and German children could be heard playing their games.
My favorite part of the day? Liam plucking a couple brightly painted geraniums from a box lining one of the bridges, running over to me yelling, "Blumen! Mama I picked you some blumen!" (Yes, he calls me Mama although this is something new.) A middle aged German man smiling ear to ear stopped in his tracks to listen to Liam tell me about his blumen (flowers). There was no better end to the day than watching my 3 year old son's perspective on life grow and change before my very eyes, immersed in all this foreign culture. Perhaps in 3 years the only culture that will be foreign to him will be that of the United States.
Medieval Bridge of Strasbourg France
Beside the cathedral in Strasbourg France
In front of the cathedral in Strasbourg France