Today was a fabulous and very jam-packed day in Strasbourg, France! Strasbourg is the legislative and democratic capital of the Europe Union and is known as the “Amsterdam of France.” The canals that fill the city are lined with half-timbered homes and the streets are busied with locals carrying their groceries on their way home from the nearby market. The Strasbourg city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Christmas market is the said to be the most beautiful, popular, and well-known Christmas market in Europe.
Before hitting the markets we roamed the streets of the city and stopped to tour the Cathedrale Nortre-Dame de Strasbourg which has a beautiful mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Inside of the cathedral, on the pulpit, is the sculpture of a tiny dog. This dog was put here to depict the time when Geiler of Kaysersberg preached on this pulpit and would bring his dog with him, who would sleep along side him. The dog is still shown here sleeping, and tourists come from all over the world to rub his head for good luck.
The cathedral is 142 meters (466 feet) and was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874, and we got to climb the 350 stairs to the top! The view of the city and Christmas market was absolutely breathtaking.
We were instructed to try tarte flambée, a specialty of the region, and that is exactly what we did! We looked for the busiest chalet, placed our order and waited for it to warm up. Flambée is an Alsatian dish, like a French pizza, covered in formage blanc, onions and lardon.
After spending hours in the markets, we decided we needed to put our feet up and relax for a little. So we hoped on a river cruise to get a tour of the city by boat. Little did we know that this tour would point out the top 40 attractions in the city, how informative! But the best part of the boat tour was that we were able to go through a series of locks that lead us from one canal to another. It was so cool to be in the boat and see us rise and be lowered in relation to the people on the streets.
When the sun began to set we decided to call it a day and head back to the Viking Bragi. Our boat for the evening was docked right next to the Pont de L’Europe, a pedestrian bridge that connects Strasbourg, France with Kehl, Germany. So we decided to take a casual sunset stroll over the bridge from France to Germany. How cool! No passport, no checkpoints, no security, we were able to walk between the two countries in less than 10 minutes!
Even though our day in Strasbourg was long, I was somewhat peer-pressured into participating in the Viking Bragi activity for the night, a European Christmas Quiz hosted by the Program Director on the boat. I had not planned on participating, so when I arrived late and without a team, I joined an older gentleman, Fred, who was sitting by himself and I think had intended to be a silent observer of the trivia game prior to my arrival. Well, ironically, our small team of two ended up winning the quiz and were rewarded with a complementary bottle of sparkling wine! It ended up being a very fun time and the perfect activity to unwind after an exhilarating day.