Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bonjour de la part de Strasbourg!

Bonjour mes amies!

Tonight we find ourselves sitting in a room in the Hotel Suisse in Strasbourg, France overlooking the fantastic silhouette of the spire of the Cathedral of Notre Dame that dates back to medieval times as the bells are pealing.

We started today having breakfast with Olga and Rudi, Mutti and Stephi and Felix. OJ, coffee, pretzels, rolls, parma and a selection of hams and wursts, cheese, boiled eggs and weiss wurst (hot white sausage), mustard, home made jam made by Mutti (sour cherry and raspberry) and flower honey. It is all so scumptious (we are starting to put weight on)! Following breakfast we go upstairs to complete our packing - how come you can never get the same things back in to the same amount of space??

Our goodbyes were made about 11:20 am with Mutti and Olga in tears. We promise that we will see them before we return to the Land of Oz. Then down to Steph's place to day adieu. Tears again . We hit the road just before 12 noon.

The car handles a little differently with the new all weather european tyres, but I am soon used to it. We travel the autobahn wanting to get some miles under our belt today. Out to the north skirting the edge of Karlsruhe (yes, yet again, Donna & Michael) before we hit Rastatt and shortly afterwards, the wonderfully picturesque town of Hugelsheim where Michael took photos of the winter landscape - ain't it just like a postcard?

By this time it is 3pm, the sun is on its daily decline and the fog has started to rise from the cold, snow covered earth. The car tells us it is - minus 5 degrees! It doesn't matter how often you clean the windscreen, the combination of water, salt and dirt thrown up by passing cars dirties it again quickly. It is getting harder to see through the muck in the dimming light as we reach our destination of Strasbourg. Signs are excellent right into the city centre and even to the Bureau de Tourisme. Parking however, is another story and we end up in a 24 hour parking station.

The assistant at the Bureau de Tourisme mercifully responds to my enquiry "Bonjour Madame. Vous parlez anglaise?" in English. She is very helpful and recommends a couple of moderate hotels when we say we want to stay in the centre of town. The Hotel Suisse is in a charming building just one block from the main Cathedral square. The room is warm with a window overlooking the street outside and the cathedral in clear view.

We wander down into the main City square to find something for dinner about 8:30 pm. It is cold out and I have dressed with my thermals under my clothes. People walk quickly, braced against the creeping night air and the crisp breeze. It is fairly quiet and we find a table at what looks like a small restaurant called Le Tire-Bouchon (The Corkscrew). Inside it is deceptively large and it seats around 100 people. Michael is excited because the menu board displayed outside advertises Steak Tartare.

Dinner is a simple fare (not!!):
Foie Gras de Canard Poele sur sa Rondelle du Pomme (Goose liver pate on rounds of apple)
Potage du Jour (Soup of the Day - seasonal vegetables) - Maria
Steak Tartare coupe au couteaux
Jambonneau Roti au Munster, Pommes Sautees, Salade Verte Grande Specialite du chef - Ham hock with cheese, sauteed potatoes and a green salad Speciality of the chef - Maria

It was all delicious and the helpings were huge. Michael enjoys all four dishes! No room for dessert - even though they look rich and decadent, but coffee went down a treat.
Then a quick stroll though town taking some night photos before we return to the warmth of the hotel.

This morning dawns cold at -8 degrees. The weather forecast is for -3 to 2, so not sure where the - 8 is coming from! But the room is very warm and we open the window (stupid Australians).

Breakfast is buffet style in the small restaurant down stairs. After all those big breakfasts recently, we opt just to have orange juice, cereal with fruit ad a croissant each with coffee. So now we are ready to head off for a day walking around the city of Strasbourg.

We need to find another hotel for tonight as today marks the first day of the European Parliament that sits in Strasbourg. Widely accepted as a toothless tiger, it sits one week each month for a series of plenary sessions. Though it can make comment and suggestions, it has no powers to enact actions. However, with 736 members, accommodation in the City Centre is now impossible to find. Looks like we might try the local Formula 1 (yes, you can even find them in France!) because if we cannot have the ambiance of the old town, we may as well have somewhere cheap!

Au revior until next time.

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