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April 22nd 2010
Published: June 14th 2017
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After all three kids did a repeat performance to buy bread and croissants, we headed off to Strasbourg, which was about 50 mins away. It is quite a large city, and one of the European Parliament seats, and after a bit of a false start to find the tourism office or a tourist map, we were thrilled to find the tourist centre is all very close to each other, and easy to navigate on foot. (Boo and hiss to the hotel concierge who wouldn't give us a free map of the city, because we were not guests! And thanks to the helpful girls at the Best Western Hotel, who not only gave us the free map but showed us what things to see!)

We walked along the River Ile, watching boats navigate the locks, until we reached the medieval part of the city known as Petite France. It was very lovely, but we were probably spoilt a little by the perfect medieval town where we were staying. Steven and I commented that we are very lucky to be Australians travelling overseas, where all medieval villages are mind blowing – imagine being a travel-hardened French or German, who says "oh, ho hum – I've seen better medieval villages elsewhere!) The kids found a playground in the middle of Petite France, so in the beautiful sunshine in the middle of such a pretty spot, they had a game of being pirates or schoolteachers or something. They really are enjoying this trip, but like everyone, need to take some time out from being tourists to just be kids!

The absolute highlight of the day was a trip on the tourist boat – the Batarama – which cruises the river Ile around Strasbourg! It is such a little thing, but the difference that an audio guide for children makes to the kids' day is amazing! This was one of the best – the tour guide was a “pirate" who told children about “life when he was a cabin boy”. A few bad puns and a bit of humour, and the hour on the boat was absolutely wonderful – and still very educational! The sun was so hot, for the first time since leaving Australia I even thought about sunscreen (I'd packed beanies and gloves in my handbag for the day, but not sunscreen! Sorry, Aunty Amanda!) We learned about the beautiful city, which has been French, then German then French again for hundreds of years, and also saw the modern part of the city, where the European Parliament sits (for something like 4 days a month).

After our boat cruise, we had a lovely lunch of tartes flambee (our new favourite) and the kids even tried one with goats cheese, sitting in a sun-drenched square near the cathedral of Strasbourg. We toured the Cathedral, which was very nice and quite different - very dark and the rose window is filled with yellow glass, whereas it is normally reds and blues. (Tom is very pious, insisting on a quiet prayer before we tour any church, whereas I am not so convinced it is the strength of Matthew's faith that makes him want to light a candle in every church that we enter – but I've told him to say a prayer each time he lights one, so who am I to comment on his devotion?)

By this time, we were all exhausted and keen to leave the city before the afternoon traffic – but Matthew reminded us all (a few hundred times) that he had never been on a tram – the other kids had ridden them in Christchurch, New Zealand, before Matt was born. So we boarded a tram for one stop (I think the tram was so modern that it was a disappointment – it looked like a train, with very modern carriages) back to the car, and back along the motorway to our Riquewihr. One highlight for me – on the side of the highway was a “self service florist” in a corner of a farm, where there was a field of tulips and you could pick your own flowers and then pay for them – another time, I'll stop the car to do this!

Our last night in Riquewihr, and after another lovely walk around the town (visiting the “witches shop” the “Christmas shop” and the Catholic church, which we had previously not been to) and a visit to the playground that was just outside the town walls, we had another lovely meal at one of the restaurants in town – again, very authentic because no English was spoken. Steven and I had wanted to try a local specialty, a stew starting with B and advertised as a stew of four meats. There are reasons that some dishes become internationally famous, and others (like this one) are not known – it was watery, plain and really not very nice! Oh well – you have to try these things! Georgia seemed disappointed (or at least, wanted it known) that we were leaving France without eating frogs legs – something for us to try to look for at a restaurant in Brisbane if we can't manage it in Europe!

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