FRIDAY 15 JULY STRASBOURG AND ALSACE
A bit of background.
As we followed the Rhine along, we come to a section where the river forms the border between France and Germany. Our first port of call was the French city of Strasbourg. The city was founded by the Romans, but it has been a rather tumultuous area over time, being claimed variously by the French and Germans over many hundreds of years. The city was German for 700 years, but in more recent times changing hands several times since 1870. Unlike so many other cities, however, it was not destroyed during WWII. It is believed that this is in part due to the fact both the Germans and French felt a sense of ownership of the city. Strasbourg is now French and the people definitely feel French.
Our introduction to the city was on a canal boat tour. The boat had a glass roof, so it was a bit hard to take photos.
The weather was glorious, so it was a pleasure to be out and about.
It was interesting hearing all the history. We learnt so much more than if we just visited on our own. Some of the areas we saw on the canal were the very worst slums in past times. They were used by the tanners, whose industry was dirty and smelly, scraping the flesh of the hides and using urine in the tanning process. You can identify the old tannery buildings by the open eaves, where the hides were left to air dry over some time. Many have since been closed in, but some remain open as a reminder of those times.
After the canal tour, we continued our tour on foot, visiting the cathedral. The European cathedrals are such a contrast to the English ones, as they still have all their carvings and decorations, unlike their English counterparts, which were stripped bare by Cromwell and his cronies.
All the statues around the door arch would have been removed in England.
A famous feature in the cathedral is a planetarium clock. Our tour was arranged so that we would be there when it chimed at 10.30am and see all the mechanical bits and bobs do their stuff. It was quite amazing, considering the age of it.
The pipe organ was quite unusual and very ornate.
Outside, we had some free time to explore.
We were tempted by this shop.
Just look at that! All those yummy biscuits. We did treat ourselves to a little goody bag full to nibble on. Not that we really needed anything more to eat.
We could have spent rather more time wandering around, as it was a lovely place and the buildings were just amazing. However, we had opted to go on an extra little excursion, so had to make do with the bit of time we had.
After lunch we hopped into a bus and travelled on the motorway for a while.
Our destination was the wine trail through the French Alsace region. This took us through several pretty little villages.
Many of them were entrants in the local competition for the best floral display by a village.
The village wells were all decorated beautifully.
Most of the villages were walled and the bus had to squeeze through the arched gateways.
Of course, we passed some vineyards.
You can’t visit the area without sampling some of the wares. We called in at a cellar for a little tasting.
We expected to just be given a little bit to taste, but no, we were all sat down and the winemaker explained how to go about tasting the wine.
For novices like us, it was really interesting.
We brought a bottle home with us and will save it for a special occasion. (I’m sure we can find an excuse fairly soon.)
Then it was back on the bus to visit the town of Obernai for yet another guided walking tour and a bit of free time to have a wander around.
The day was finished off with the gala farewell dinner, although we still have one more night on board. It was a lovely evening, so after the delicious meal we went up on the top deck to enjoy the sunset.
Only one more day to go.