Woke at 7am. The sun is out and it is dry. Baden-Baden was a charming place, even with the rain. I will remember walking through this lovely lush green, blue, and gray city. But two days was more than enough here, time of move on!
We catch the 9:05am train to Strasbourg. We will be boarding a French train, they are newer than German trains and have plush comfortable seats. We don’t have reservations but it does not matter, the train is empty and we are able to sit where we please for this first leg of our trip. About an hour or so later, we switch trains in a small German village named Applewiser. As we step off the train, Applewiser appears to consist of nothing more than a cement train platform surrounded by trees and bushes. We see a sign with an arrow pointing to the left to Gate 9. We walk on a narrow path through more trees and bushes and we find Gate 9, another cement train platform surrounded by trees and bushes overlooking a lazy field of grass. Besides the dozen other fellow travelers (all speaking German), we are quite alone at Gate 9. The sun is warm, the air is cool, and it is not raining — we got lucky.
We wait 50 minutes on the platform in the middle of a cow pasture. The train is on time and crowded. We take whatever seats we come across first. I made it into the cabin where I sit on a seat with my feet propped on my suitcase. My DH did not make it this far, he sat next to the door on one of those little flipper seats with all the bicyclists and no leg room. He sits with his backpack between his knees and his arm around his suitcase — he does not look very comfortable. I look out the window. The country side is peaceful and I see a few cows along the way. I could not tell when we passed from Germany into France. Unlike in the States where there are big signs like “Welcome to Wisconsin!” when you cross over a state line and “Welcome to Minnesota!” when you cross back, there are no obvious indicators in Europe. Not sure why I thought of that, but I did. I guess you have to think of someone as you ride a train.
In about 30 minutes we are in Strasbourg. The train station is an impressive piece of architecture! The French are so smart – instead of cleaning the old stone of the old train station every few years, they just enclosed it in a glass bowl!
The walk to Hotel Gutenberg takes about 15 minutes but we don’t mind – the weather is wonderful (I even take off my dorky hat)! We take our time as we walk through the business district of Strasbourg, looking at store windows on our way. We pass bakeries, restaurants, and department stores with fashionable clothing for size-2 women (I will not be shopping there). The city tram rattles by us and we cross the street as our luggage skips over the rails. It is amazing what warm weather in an old city can do to lift one’s spirits.
By 11am, we have checked into our hotel. We store our luggage in the hotel closet, re-arrange our backpacks to lighten our load, and head off to explore Strasbourg. This is my first visit here, my DH’s second.
Strasbourg is an historic city and most known for it’s Le Petite France neighborhood, a serene collection of cobblestone roads, fine restaurants and medieval buildings. We spend our first hour in Strasbourg just walking!
Fine dining and good shopping abound in this part of town. We had lunch here, in a classic restaurant overlooking the Strasbourg River called the Au Pont Saint Martin. I was very nice and very pleasant and we were happy to be here! Of course, the food was good and we ate every bit of it!
The best way to see Strasbourg is on foot. But since there is a river that run through the city, why not take a Canal Boat Ride! This activity is highly rated on TripAdvisor and gave us an informed comprehensive tour of the city. Some of the best photographs of the city can be taken from the boat so that is what I did.
While walking back to the hotel after our boat ride, we passed the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg. You can’t miss it — it is HUGE! It is an intimidating example of 13th-century Gothic architecture if I do say! It is also Strasbourg’s most famous landmark. WE-MUST-GO-IN!
For dinner, we took one of Rick Steves suggestions and went to Chez Yvonne. It is a fancy place so we went back to the hotel and I put on my best black sweater and my DH changed into his best flannel shirt and off we went to find the place.
It took a while to find Chez Yvonne because the streets are so small and the street signs could stand a bit of improvement IMHO, but we did find it. I know I use the word charming too much but this place really is! Strasbourg is still considered to be part of the Black Forest region and this place has all the trappings of the Black Forest – dark wood, plaster walls, tapestries, cream linens with red embroidery. My DH ordered the specialty – Chicken cooked in Riesling wine. I had a Beef/Pork sausage with a mustard Potato salad. Both dishes were excellent! Rick was right!
After dinner, the sun was still out and the streets were less crowded. We decided to look for a good “people-watching” café where I could get a coffee and where we could share a pastry. To our surprise, many places were closed by 9pm so pickings were slim. We settled on Café Rodin where I ordered the special – Kaffe au Kuchen (coffee and a tart). Unfortunately there were not too many people to watch, other than a couple of locals at the table next to us, smoking. Our waitress was prompt and quick with our orders — I think she was eager to leave for the evening. My tart was cherry, my DH’s tart was apricot. Both were good and larger than expected.
The air was turning chilly and we both were looking forward to a nice warm and comfy bed! When we finished our tarts, we left for the short walk back to the hotel. The city center was a ghost town — we haven’t been this alone since Applewiser.
Quote of the day: “I love the color of the urinals!” — Anna