Friday, November 24, 2017
Travel

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

RECOMMENDED READING


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
Florida’s iconic offshore Stiltsville survived another hurricane season

Florida’s iconic offshore Stiltsville survived another hurricane season

MIAMI — Stiltsville, a stubborn relic of Miami’s less-glitzy past as a sun-soaked outpost, has survived Hurricane Irma’s brutal winds and waves, much to the surprise of the landmark’s caretakers and fans. Perched at the edge of sea grass flats where ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Story of Louis Vuitton: As travel changed, so did luggage

Story of Louis Vuitton: As travel changed, so did luggage

NEW YORKAs travel changed, so did luggage. That’s the story told by an elaborate exhibition about Louis Vuitton, the luxury luggage and fashion brand. The exhibition, free to visit and on display in Lower Manhattan through Jan. 7, is called "Volez, V...
Published: 11/24/17
Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday isn’t just for stores. Many theme parks and attractions in Florida are also offering up deals that could make a nice gift or family splurge. The smaller the park, the bigger the deal, so Legoland, Gatorland and SeaWorld are toutin...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Unless you are ensconced in first class, sleeping on a plane is as intimate as dozing off in a waiting room on jury duty — everyone on the aircraft knows the decibel level of your snoring and the sad state of your socks.To gauge how passengers percei...
Published: 11/20/17
With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

With Harry Potter’s Christmas, Universal Orlando proves holidays are big business

ORLANDO — Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando in a new holiday attraction opening Saturday. In addition, Universal Studios has completely upsized its holiday parade with more Macy’s balloons, stunning floats and snowy effects ...
Published: 11/17/17
First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando, with the promise of warm butterbeer, a Frog Choir singing carols and a magical light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle nightly followed by fireworks. It opens to the public on Saturday. C...
Published: 11/17/17
Flights of fancy vacation photography, courtesy of drones

Flights of fancy vacation photography, courtesy of drones

Rachel RaczkaImagine your favorite vacation photo: that perfect sunset shot with waves gently crashing and an amber crescent reflecting off the ocean’s glassy surface.Now imagine it from above.Drone sales in the United States doubled in the year that...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Explore underwater treasures at Sombrero Reef off Marathon in the Florida Keys

Explore underwater treasures at Sombrero Reef off Marathon in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys seem like a world away, but they’re not too far away when you’re already in Miami.After departing from a cruise, my daughters and I wanted to keep the vacation going just a little bit longer. We headed south on U.S. 1, bound for Mara...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Universal snaps up more land for potential theme park expansion

Universal snaps up more land for potential theme park expansion

Universal Orlando has purchased another big chunk of land in Orlando, giving the theme park company more than 570 acres to work with for expansions, possibly including a new theme park.The land is adjacent to the $130 million purchase Universal made ...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens has put its 2018 Fun Card on sale early, meaning you can get two free months to visit the Tampa theme park for the rest of this year and a free Adventure Islands water park pass in 2018. This is the fifth year that Busch Gardens has of...
Updated one month ago