A French Detour in Strasbourg

The Streets of Strasbourg. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Today is our last day aboard  Viking River Cruises Viking Hild. Tomorrow, our Paris to the Swiss Alps river cruise tour will take us overland for a two-night stay in Zurich. Today, however, we’re docked in Kehl, Germany – just across the Rhine from Strasbourg, France.

Located 400 kilometres from Paris, Strasbourg still retains much of its historic ambiance, from its wood-timbered buildings to its imposing Cathedral, which was constructed between 1015 and 1439. At 466 feet in height, it dominates the city’s skyline to this day.

At 466 feet in height, Strasbourg Cathedral still dominates the city’s skyline. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our tour this morning was a coach drive through the city, followed by a walking tour of the historic city centre and free time. Of course, today is Sunday, so many shops are closed. Sundays are still days of rest in Europe, and typically only the most touristic of stores will open, along with some bakeries, cafes and restaurants.

Well, hello to you too! Easter celebrations are alive and well in Strasbourg. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

That didn’t trouble me. What did bother me, though, was the dismissive, arrogant attitude of some of my fellow guests, who simply couldn’t conceive that the key to the city wasn’t being laid at their feet. “This is ridiculous!”, one guest prattled on during the coach ride in. “It’s not like this in America!”

Of course, not every guest felt this way. But the few that did were quite vocal in their complaints about Europe in general, from the weather to the temperature to the fact that it was Easter Sunday and many shops were closed. So, if you’re headed here on a Sunday: things will be closed. If it’s Easter Sunday: even more will be closed.

Inside one of Strasbourg’s open tourist shops. Not everything was closed on Easter Sunday. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that more shops than I would have expected were open. Most of these were strictly aimed at tourists, but many local bakeries were doing a brisk business, as well as the city’s restaurants and bars. I enjoyed a great lunch of traditional spätzle with Alsatian cream for lunch, along with a locally-brewed beer that was quite good.

Some photos from our day in Strasbourg:

It’s hard to not fall in love with Strasbourg’s unique style. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Buildings here are a sight to behold, with intricate carvings like this one. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Amsterdam-style riverboat cruises are offered along the city’s waterways. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Much of medieval Strasbourg is on display to this day. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

For Easter, a local market (similar to the Christmas Markets) popped up in a local square…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…complete with traditional foods! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

For lunch: French-German Spatzle…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and light, fluffy local bread! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

This evening, before dinner, I sat out on my balcony. It had recently rained, and the railings were covered in large, mercury-like droplets of water. The Rhine was absolutely still, and Viking Hild glided silently downstream towards Basel. Tomorrow, we’ll disembark and make our way by motorcoach over to Zurich. But those thoughts were far from my mind as I watched the river slip slowly past, content with my surroundings, satisfied with being present.

Who wouldn’t love this?

Tonight, I spent time admiring the scenery from my balcony…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as Viking Hild sailed on, towards Basel. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Goodnight. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from Viking River Cruises’ Paris to the Swiss Alps river cruise tour continues tomorrow as we arrive in Basel and transfer to Zurich! Follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Saturday, April 8, 2017Paris, France
Sunday, April 9Paris, France
Monday, April 10Trier, Germany (embarkation)
Tuesday, April 11Trier, Germany / Bernkastel, Germany
Wednesday, April 12Cochem, Germany
Thursday, April 13Middle Rhine Cruising; service call in Kaub, Germany
Friday, April 14Mainz, Germany
Saturday, April 15Speyer, Germany
Sunday, April 16Strasbourg, France
Monday, April 17Basel, Switzerland (disembark); Zurich, Switzerland
Tuesday, April 18Zurich, Switzerland; end of tour.

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