Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The road to Strasbourg

After our night in Basel, we caught the train from Basel to Strasbourg. They come every hour and, this time of year, they run a Christmas town special.  We couldn't take advantage of that since you have to return to Basel the next day, but it just shows how easy and popular it is to go from Basel to Strasbourg!

Anyways, we boarded the train (I was so excited to take the train in Europe! So European!) and a little over an hour later, we arrived in Strasbourg.  I should probably just refer to Strasbourg as heaven from here on out because that's basically what it was.  Paris will always have a special place in my heart, but Strasbourg might be my new favorite French city (don't kill me Szeps!).  The buildings were beautiful and the streets made you feel like you were in a little French town, even though Strasbourg is quite large.  Add in all of the Christmas decorations and you've just described my heaven.

The train station in Strasbourg has penguins on the outside!

Once we exited the train station, we had to go meet our host for our AirBnB.  We had texted her the day before to let her know of our travel plans and arranged to meet at the apartment after our train arrived.  When we arrived at the apartment, there was a man standing outside who asked if we were Michel (the French pronunciation of Michael).  We were a little surprised since the person we had been communicating with was a woman, but we agreed.  He explained that Veronique, our host, had double booked the apartment, so we were being upgraded to another apartment nearby that was "bigger and has a beautiful view."  We reluctantly agreed and followed him to the apartment.   When we arrived, we had mixed feelings about the apartment, but didn't know what to say.  On one hand, it was a huge loft.  The downstairs had a large table, a lounge area with a television and a small kitchen.  On the other hand, the upstairs wasn't quite what we were looking for.  It was one big loft room made into two bed rooms with a curtain.  As Mike put it, "not exactly what I wanted when I'm sharing an apartment with my little sister and her boyfriend."  There was one bed in one room and then two mattresses on the floor in the other room.  Poor Kelly and Sean toughed it out on the mattresses all weekend.   Lastly, you had to walk through the mattress room if you wanted to go to the bathroom (which I do at least once a night) or if you wanted to go downstairs. We made do, despite the imperfections.  It would have been perfect for four friends or even a family with two kids, but not exactly what two couples wanted.  Oh well.  There are worse things that we could have stumbled upon.  Plus, the view from the apartment is stunning.

Strasbourg rooftops

After we dropped off our stuff, we hit the streets for a little exploration.

This chapel is, again, the center of the town and can be seen from almost anywhere in Strasbourg.

Strasbourg claims to be the capital of Christmas and, after our weekend there, I believe it!

There's no picture that can explain or show how massive the cathedral was.  It's huge! I felt like an ant standing next to it.

There were so many Christmas markets, they had a map of all of them! I was in heaven!

We wandered through a bunch of them, scoping things out. While we were in one of the markets, we stumbled upon a memorial for the lives lost in the Paris bombings, which hurt my heart. 

After a lot of walking and window shopping, it was time for lunch! When we checked TripAdvisor, one of the highest voted restaurants was a tapas restaurant.  Mike and I know we aren't very good tapas partners since Mike likes meat and I like vegetables (and meat), but we decided to give it a try anyways.  I'm SO glad we did.  We may have gone a little overboard with the ordering, but oh well!

This goat cheese, honey and nut bruchetta was to die for.  I'm going to be making that for our next special occasion, party or Tuesday. Nomz.

Minus the pickle, these were a big hit with Mike.  Potato and meat! Yum!

After lunch, we walked around a bit more and fell in love even more with this French city.

We even found a Star Wars themed Christmas exhibit! "Je suis ton pere...Noel!"  It was a contest where groups made different interpretations of that sentence.  Pretty entertaining!

Is that Mike or Pere Noel?  Je ne sais pas!

We perused some more Christmas markets, drank some beer and mulled wine, and just soaked up the ambiance of the city. 

We ended the night at an Indian restaurant, Cinnamon, that was also highly recommended on TripAdvisor.  TripAdvisor has never let us down and we were very happy with our garlic naan and butter chicken.  Kelly and Sean arrived late that night, but we were so tired that we had fallen asleep! Whoops! Sorry guys! Luckily, after a few minutes of endless phone calls, we woke up and let them in.  We described our day's events to them before we realized that it was 1:00am and they probably wanted to go to bed. Ha! 

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