Still in Strasbourg. Still living with a grumpy bear with a sore foot. Still (both) impatient with the challenges this brings. Still want to whack him with a bat occasionally. Not with any sense of malice mind, just to change the sour puss expression on his face.
We’ve mastered the bike ride in and head straight for cathedral square. Thankfully, it’s quieter today – being Sunday most shops are closed. There must be a special mass as preists dressed in a variety of ceremonial robes go to and fro and it’s being televised into the square. The choir is in fine voice. I even find a good angle for a shot of the cathedral.
The day’s plan remains simple: lunch then a river cruise. Himself misfires his lunch order and is delivered half a giant chicken, not cooked to his liking. It was about double the size it appears in the photo below.
He’s not happy. Meanwhile my classic Alsacian tarte of white onion and lardon is superb, with pastry light as a feather.
After lunch I discover a haberdashery store that I could lose a a few days in, but sadly, it’s closed.
The river cruise presents challenges too. We just can’t get it right here. All reviews say “if you like taking photos, take the uncovered boat”. Which of course is sold out. In the covered boat we go, with its blue rounded roof, which I’ll come to curse heartily in time.
The boats are packed and despite an open section at the back, the boat police demand we are all seated “for safety”. They don’t take well to being challenged either. I did try.
The good news is that the commentary is very good. We learn about Strasbourg’s history, the creation of each of the quarters, the beautiful covered bridges and most interestingly, its political history. Strasbourg was hotly contested over centuries, passing from France to Germany and back again, over many years. Under German rule in the late 1800s, significant expansion took place, with the city planning exhibiting the best building styles of the time. Mosy interestingly, as late as 1890, the then German rulers built a synagogue, to accommodate the growing Jewish population. Times changed quickly. By WWII, Strasbourg was under punitive Nazi rule where even wearing a beret or whistling French tunes was considering a crime. The commentary is quite (fairly) ruthless in its judgement of Nazi rule: I can’t help but cringe a little for all the German tourists on board. I have no idea how modern Germany perceives that period.
As predicted by the reviewers, photography does prove a challenge, but I do my best to avoid dreaded reflections.
There’s not much I can do about the blue tinge, or the lovely things I miss on the other side of the boat. Our tour steward. He could do with a swift whack of that bat too. Especially when I’m inches (but also a shoulder dislocation away) from two open windows on either side of the boat that I’m not allowed to stand in front of. Perhaps with significantly more malice than I’d offer “Mr Grumpy Pants, I Have a Sore Foot”.
Post tour we head into the Petite Francais quarter. It’s by far my favourite and biking there cuts down on walking. It’s here I finally take my favourite photos of the day – the gorgeous half timbered cottages set on the water and the covered bridges.
It goes a long way to stilling my mind and soothing the annoyance I had at not being able to photograph what I wanted earlier.
A fabulously good artisianal baguette and local sausage for dinner.
We’re off tomorrow and whilst the countryside will no doubt bring peace, I wish we’d had more time here, free of the restrictions we’ve necessarily had to endure. I would have riden or walked the bike path around the river enclosing the city, visited the palaces, lunched in the gardens and explored every inch of the Petite Francais quarter. Oh and taken about a thousand photos. Maybe next time.