Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Travel

Travel to Strasbourg and enjoy a charming blend of France and Germany

If you're looking for a day trip from Frankfurt, Germany, and a change of country and scenery, a lovely option awaits just a two-hour train ride away: Strasbourg, France.

Strasbourg, which sits on the west side of the Rhine River in the Alsace region of northeastern France, is a charming blend of French and German culture, history and architecture.

The must-see in this picturesque city is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which dates to the 11th century. Fire destroyed most of the original building, which was Romanesque in style, and it took its current shape as a Gothic cathedral in the 13th century. In the 1400s, a towering 466-foot spire was added, transforming the church into the world's tallest building, a status it maintained for several centuries.

French writer Victor Hugo described Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg as a "gigantic and delicate marvel," while German novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who spent some time studying in Strasbourg, remarked that "its loftiness is linked to its beauty."

I concur with both men, having been moved and nearly overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the cathedral, enveloped in red sandstone and adorned with extraordinary ornamentation and detail inside and out, from the statues and carvings to the centuries-old stained glass windows and astronomical clock.

After lengthy exploration of the church's exterior and interior, and excessive photo-taking, it was time to satisfy my cousin's wish: to climb to the viewing platform that on a clear day rewards visitors with vistas of the Alsace Plain, the Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest of Germany. We stopped several times during the ascent, which is "330 marches," to catch our breath and to marvel at the embellishments not easily visible from the ground. ("Is that a sculpture of a dog with a bone in its mouth over there? Why, yes, it is.") The payoff — a spectacular panorama — was well worth the physical exertion.

Legend has it that the wind that seems to constantly blow outside the cathedral can be traced to the devil riding by in olden days. Maybe it was the power of suggestion, but each time we walked by it was eerily breezy.

After wrapping up our visit to the church we went to a nearby restaurant to refuel with crepes.

Fortified, we wandered around, stopping in the shops that were open (it was a Sunday) and marveling at this enchanting place dotted with cobblestone streets, open plazas and buildings with crisscrossed wooden patterns and window boxes filled with flowers and greenery.

To get a different view, we decided, like the many swans we saw, to take to the water. On a boat tour along the River Ill, we learned, among other things, that a number of institutions call Strasbourg home, including the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

During our 10-hour stay we also managed to work in a "snack" at Le Gruber, a restaurant with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, lots of wood, lots of character and an extensive menu. (The French onion soup and French wine were delicious, and the desserts on display in a glass case enticing, though we did not partake.)

After walking around a little more, and passing by the cathedral one last time, noting the eerie breeziness once again, it was time to bid storybook Strasbourg adieu and board the train for Frankfurt.

     
         
Comments
Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

LOREN ELLIOTT • Times CorrespondentPUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICOThe third-floor balcony attached to our rented apartment served as a peaceful refuge above Puerto Vallarta’s bustling central district streets. Below us, taxis honked, people crowded bus ...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Smile for the camera, Frito. The world is watching, and you have a story to tell. The tiny seahorse came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her neck. By Wednesday, she became the CMA’s newest internet ...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Back "by popular demand" Busch Gardens has announced the Tampa theme park will once again have a fireworks on weekends this summer, and the park also brought back its deal that gets you a free pass to Adventure Island water park with the purchase of ...
Published: 06/12/18
SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

Collin the sea turtle, with a belly full of plastic garbage, may have been the last straw. SeaWorld announced all its parks and properties, including Busch Gardens in Tampa and Sesame Place, will ban plastic drinking straws and plastic bags. The anno...
Published: 06/12/18
Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando has announced that there will be a record 10 haunted houses for this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights. They haven’t all been revealed yet, but there will be a maze based on the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and ...
Published: 06/11/18
I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

SEATTLE -- Every Starbucks experience in my life has been roughly the same. I wait in a never-unreasonable line to order. I squint at soulless foodstuff. Some soft pop plays. I order. I wait a never-unreasonable amount of time for my beverage and sn...
Published: 06/07/18
‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

We have all come to this spot in the desert for one thing: Seven Magic Mountains.Two years ago last month, the large-scale public artwork by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone rose on this stretch of land roughly 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip. The ...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are running a flash sale that can save you $40 or more for single-day or annual tickets, but the sale ends Sunday. Busch Gardens is selling single-day tickets for $45, but they must be used by July 1. For $59, a Fun Card gi...
Updated one month ago
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set to deb...
Updated one month ago