Sunday, July 26, 2015

Strasbourg, France Part 1

Strasbourg Canal
Notre Dame of Strasbourg at Night

We arrived in Strasbourg on Monday, the 20th at about 8pm and it was still 95 degrees out.  The nice lady checking us into the apartment told me that they had just started with a heat wave and it was going to last several days.  Well she was right.  It lasted about 4 days and we soon realized that air conditioning is wonderful. But unfortunately the apartment we rented did not have a/c, and it was a third floor walk up, which in Europe means 4th floor.  Luckily, the nice lady left us 4 fans that we used non stop.  Since the windows had been closed all day and the apartment was about 10 degrees hotter then outside we dropped off our bags and took the kids for a bit to eat. We got a few pizzas and a tarte flambee (like a thin pizza with a cream based sauce, yum) a couple of rounds of Edelweiss beer at a cute little cafĂ©  After dinner we walked over to the Cathedral.  What an amazing sight!  It is the tallest Cathedral in France and is celebrating its 1000th anniversary.  It is really incredible to realize that this church has been here for 1000 years.  I wondered how many people had walked through its doors or just stood outside as I was just taking it in.  On our way back to the apartment the kids noticed a beautiful carousel in the Place Gutenberg.  Since it was past 11pm, we promised the kids we would come back to ride it another day.

On Tuesday we set out to visit Strasbourg itself.  Our place is well situated and was very easy to walk to anywhere in the city.  First we set out to the Ponts Couvert (covered bridges),  They are no longer covered, the wood structure is no longer there but the bridge and towers still stand.  Once we crossed the bridge we arrived in Petit France, a small area in old Strasbourg which has many of the original buildings still standing.  The houses have a German influence and are very quaint with flower filled boxes at each window.  We continued our walk to visit Place Kleber, see I was on the hunt for a special cuckoo clock that I had seen here with my mother some 24 years ago.  No clock in sight but a pretty square nonetheless.  We headed over to a restaurant, L'Ancienne Douane, to get a choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with different pork sausages and hams) a traditional dish served in this region.  It was scrumptious.  I had been waiting to get this for quite a while and it was better then I remembered.  It was also so nice to be sitting in the shade with another Edelweiss on the canal watching the boats go by.  By the way, it was also 95 degrees that day.  We were all pretty sweaty but so was everyone else.  At times I did feel like I was actually melting.  Once we got back to the apartment I had each of the kids take a cold shower before they went to sleep.  It helped tremendously. 

Altes Schloss
On Wednesday we headed to Baden-Baden, Germany.  I had never been to Germany before so I was very excited for this day trip.  Once there we walked around the town and got a some "hot dogs" for lunch.  Since it was also extremely hot in Baden-Baden, we decided to head up to Merkur Mountain to get a view of the city below.  Much to the children's delight we rode the funicular up the 1,214 foot elevation difference.  We were all amazed by the steep grade, in some places it was between 23% and 54%.  Once at the top the view was stunning.  The Black Forest below was gorgeous.  And as a side note it was significantly cooler at the top of Merkur Mountain.  We let the kids play at the playground and we all went to the top of the observation tower.  Joel raced the elevator I rode with the girls.  He beat us running up the 145 stairs, he also beat us running down.  We got a snack of ice cream for the kids and beer for the adults.  I was quite happy to sit at the restaurant and take in the picturesque view around me.  I decided I want to be one of those people who take the photos for puzzles.  They are always the nicest pictures and really how hard can it be to take a picture of a stunning place.  Even my amateur pictures look great when you take a picture of such natural beauty.  We decided to walk down the mountain.  Listen, after a 0.5liter beer anything sounds doable.  We all left very loudly and buoyantly down the trail.  Once halfway down it got significantly quieter and hotter.  Looking around you understand how they came up with the name Black forest.  The vegetation is so thick and dark.  By now Justin and I were taking turn carrying Eden.  She is not light.  Once we got back to the car we headed towards Altes Schloss (a castle in ruins).  It was pretty amazing walking around the ruins.  We were able to climb up the tower and again get a stunning view of the city and Black Forest below and of Merkur Mountain.  We took lots of pictures and I took some of the castle itself.  Again I thought  super cool puzzle pic.  We headed back down the mountain, in the car and started to look for the former Canadian air force base where Norma and Bob met for the first time.  It was pretty neat to see where they met and started their romance.  If it wasn't for this place they would have never met and Jonathan and Justin would not be. We drove home on a smaller road and got to enjoy the countryside.  We were all so tired, we had walked 14,999 steps, 7.37 miles sometimes carrying a fluffy 2 year old.  We were beat, but I did wish I had taken 1 more step.

By the way, I kept seeing signs for Ausfahrt pointing in a direction, I thought it was a town name that you could somehow reach from anywhere, but it turned out it is the German word for exit.  More cold showers and off to bed.

From Justin:  Driving in Germany for the first time was an interesting experience.  Of course I've heard about the autobahn and wondered what it would be like.  What I didn't realize is that most of the roads are an "autobahn" and don't have a speed limit.   The first highway I got on was packed with trucks and had a center barrier and not much of a shoulder.  It had some hills and curves.  The trucks are limited to go 90 km/hour.   A road like this in France had a speed limit of 110 km/hr or sometimes 130 km/hr.   I wondered what the speed limit was on this road as it didn't show up on the GPS as it did in France.  Soon thereafter my doors were blown off by an Audi whizzing by me in the left lane.   I soon concluded that there was no speed limit.   I was cruising around 150 km/hr and still getting routinely passed.  It is a bit disconcerting to be passing trucks going slow on your right and having cars come up behind you so fast.   I was worried that a truck would switch lanes and I might not be able to get to the leftmost of the 3 lanes due to the really fast cars.    I did get into the fast lane once and got up to 162 km/hr (101 mph) and still had to get over to get passed.    A Porsche 911 passed me once at this speed like I was standing still.  I don't know what the fatality rate is on the German highways but I shutter to imagine what an accident at these speeds would look like.  At any rate it was a bit fun driving fast but more nerve-wracking than I had expected.

Eden's Favorite Store in Strasbourg
Park in Baden-Baden Germany

Riding in the Funicular up Merkur Mountain
At the top of Merkur Mountain

View of the Black Forest

The 5 kiddos indicating their birth order on blocks numbered accordingly

Hiking in the Black Forest

The Castle reached to the sky

Boys finding unique areas in the castle

Outside the Canadian Air Force base in Baden Baden where Justin's parents met

The streets were aptly named for a Canadian base

Carousel in Strasbourg 

1 comment:

  1. Kyle is so jealous of the fast driving, but is not buying that an Audi passed you! ;) Sounds like everyone is having a ball!