Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011--Off to Alsace

Yesterday we took our first day trip to Strasbourg, a 2+ hour trip on the fast train up into the Alsace region.  We were up early to get on the Metro, then to Gare l'Est, and finally arrived at our destination.  It was colder than Paris but drier, and we were lucky to have a beautiful day.  This is a real gem of a city and one you can see in a day.  There is a tourist office in the train station, and the woman gave us a couple pamphlets and map and off we went.  

The major attraction is the cathedral in the center of the city--the building is the most impressive aside from Notre Dame.  Its bell tower was once regarded as the tallest building in the world.  The thing is made of this dark, reddish stone, and the front is elaborate with its many, intricate statues and lacy spires.  The interior is classic gothic with majestic ribbed vaults and dark, gorgeous stained glass.  It was so dark I could not take any decent shots of the interior, and the exterior is so tall and grand my pictures can capture only a small portion of its majesty.  Inside in the back corner there is an elaborate astronomical clock which features the twelve apostles parading out and death banging a gong.

Strasbourg Cathedral

cathedral at night

Astronomical clock

Maison Kammerzell

We exited the building and to the right found the Palais Rohan, another building similar to the Parisian hotels we visited a few days ago in the Marais.

Palais Rohan

Rohan courtyard

Mary makes a new friend in the Rohan courtyard

We wandered all around the city and found the University of Strasbourg, which seems more like an American university than a European one because there is actually a central campus rather than a collection of institutes strewn all about the city.  

entrance to university
After lunch we walked along the Rive L'Ill and came to the La Petite France section, which features many half-timerberd houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.  The city is remarkable for the array of different architectural styles--Maggie, here's a place made for you!

Petite France

entrance to Petite France section

We then walked through the many narrow sides streets and finally stopped to rest until the sun went down.  

street scene

Protestant church, see I'm inter-denominational

beautiful streets of fanned paving stones

The city is also famous for its celebration of Christmas.  There were gorgeous lights everywhere across the streets, and rarely did one street imitate another.  Outside the cafe we visited, a temporary arch proudly proclaimed, "The center of Christmas!"

Galleries Lafayette

Our train was 50 minutes late, so by the time we arrived home, we were completely out of gas.

There is one mildly alarming turn of events, however.  Mary has encountered a number of challenges in her blogging, and her mood has been fluctuating dramatically.  One minute she denounces the "whole blogging thing," and then the next moment is oddly serene.  She has arrived at her own method of self-medication, the evidence of which I share below.

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