A six-day, three-city tour began, like most days in Belfort, with a bus ride. In this case, it was to the TGV station where we took the train to Strausbourg. Our first hotel was part of the Ibis Budget chain and not at all far from the train station.
The view of the train station from our hotel
First, we saw the great cathedral in Strausbourg, which is a place of pride for the Alsace region. The entirety of the city is built with fantastic architecture, and a beautiful river runs through its heart. Some of the bridges we crossed had locks hung on them, reminders of one of my favorite traditions here: placing locks and throwing away the key to secure love for a lifetime or to stow away a secret.
Most of the group found a cheap lunch, but Evan and I went down a little side-street to a restaurant called Crep’Mili. The restaurant was mostly underground and we had to climb down a full flight of tight stairs before entering a warm but lowly lit cave-like dining area. Evan and I both had comfort-food crepes, really. I had ham, egg, and cheese while he had a seafood array. It was a nice little restaurant, and we both had hot cocoa. This was the first ‘typical’ French hot cocoa I’d had. It was very bitter and took both sugar packets to get to be a taste I could handle.
The wind howled for much of day, though the sun was bright and beautiful. On the way home for a pre-dinner nap (we walked 10km), Evan and I got caught in a sudden typhoon-like storm. The rain was pounding and viciously slicing on a diagonal. The wind was so strong that it knocked over a store’s plant boxes. I enlisted Evan to help pick up the plant boxes when the rain subsided enough, and just a little later the store owner came out and thanked us for righting the plants. It was a crazy moment of a storm that passed very quickly.
There was no crazy weather during our second day in Strausbourg. We toured a number of European Union buildings, including a human rights building. Eventually, we meandered to a huge park and had lunch. The green space was a welcome place and felt a lot more like home than any of these cities ever do. The cities smell different than home, but the countryside always smells the same.
As we walked away from the park, I finally saw a squirrel! It was a reddish brown color and the size of a grey squirrel but with longer and pointier ears. There was also a long line of trees in which huge nests were built and inhabited by huge waterfowl.
Later, a few of us set out to find a pottery shop I’d seen the day before. The potter was very kind and skilled and set about to explaining what each piece was. I knew which goblet I was going to purchase, but took the time to look at everything anyway. The art was magnificent! When I made my purchase, the artist gave me a pamphlet and business card after wrapping up the goblet.