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Published: March 22nd 2010
Ellie and I planned a weekend trip to Strasbourg ages ago, but it somehow managed to creep up on it. Time is passing more quickly here in Douai, thankfully, and I ended up throwing things in my bag in the twenty minute window between my bus home from school and our train to Paris. Fortunately I've had a lot of practice with packing these last six months.
Strasbourg is located right on the border with Germany, and it's been passed past back and forth between France and Germany several times. It's been part of France since WWII, but the German influence is everywhere. The streets are all named twice: once in French and once in German. The food is different from the typical French cuisine, and the architecture is much different. It was a nice change from the North for a couple of days! Also, I got to meet up with Steven, a friend from my semester in Senegal. He's also working as an assistant, but in Nancy (about an hour from Strasbourg).
Our trip consisted of two main components: eating and walking. We were determined to try all the local specialties. And we succeeded! In less than forty-eight
hours, we managed to consume sauerkraut, sausage, hot dogs, spaetzl (kind of like a cross between a noodle and a french fry), kougelhopf (an upside-down mushroom-shaped bread that can be savory or sweet...we ate ours covered in powdered sugar), flammekuchen (a thin pastry topped with cream, onions, and bacon), and chocolate truffles. Little Ellie managed to put away massive quantities of meat and sauerkraut in one sitting...I have no idea how she did it. I tried just a bite of her sausage and sauerkraut and stuck with my chicken and mushroom dish served with spaetzl. Mmm.
We managed to come home and still fit into our pants because we walked ALL over Strasbourg. I think we covered every inch of the city centre on foot at least once. The centre is located on an island, so there are tons of paths along the canals in addition to all the small side streets and squares. We visited the cathedral, walked past the numerous other churches, saw the major buildings, and we walked to the European Union buildings on the outskirts of town (Strasbourg is a capital of the EU). Oh, and then we walked to Germany.
I love walking
to other countries. I think it stems from the fact that it's impossible to walk across a border in most parts of America due to the sheer size of the country. My past jaunts on foot across borders have been, uh, rather interesting. There was the time Katie and I walked to Poland from Germany. Turns out it was the equivalent of (and sister city to) Tijuana, Mexico. It was so sketchy, and it fit every stereotype of Eastern Europe. We also caused quite a scene at the border because they had never seen an American passport.
Then there was the time Faith and I walked to Mauritania
. That ended with us smuggling sugar back into Senegal.
This border crossing wasn't nearly as exciting, but we did end up walking over 8 miles for the trip. Oh, and I was wearing flip flops because I had developed massive blisters the day before. Ellie and I walked through some rather sketchy areas on the outskirts of Strasbourg before we reached the Bridge of Europe.
Kehl, the German city just on the other of the Rhine, was a cute little town. We had a milchkaffee (coffee with milk), strolled
through the streets, and enjoyed the beautiful spring day. Our brezels (pretzels) were unbelievably delicious, with nuts and icing, and they gave us enough strength to walk back to France. We enjoyed the sunshine in the main square before jumping on a train back to Douai.
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