Thursday, August 5, 2010

Strasbourg France

Strabourg was an unexpected surprise. I traveled there because it seemed out of the way. And ask beceause I met a nice woman in Paris who lives there names Catherine.

I got into town after a short ride over from the Basel train station, and proceeded to walk through some areas od construction as I trekked to find my Hostel. The name of the Hostel was Ciarus and it was by far the best place I have stayed on my trip! There were tons of rooms, the inside was edgy, modern and sleek, the staff were friendly and they even had a restaurant built into the Hostel itself. 

At first I didn't think much of Strasbourg's site seeing prospects. The first night I was there I didn't much except go out to a local market to buy some fruit, visit the Plaza de Republique and take a few pictures of churches, the Place de Justice and some very pretty canals lined with lovely colorful trees. 

When I got back I sat down in the lobby, waiting to be able to check into my room. I ate the enormous amount of snap peas I'd just purchased and relaxed. Since I was sittingat one of the only tables in the lobby, a young asian man sat down on the other side. We exchanged a brief smile and then I asked him where he was from. He was from a smaller city near Shanghai and his name is Yifu. We ended up chatting for quite a while. He had been studying for a year in Germany and had just finished and decided to travel for a short period of time. 

I checked into my room where I found that my dorm had it's own shower and bathroom, something incredibly rare for most Hostels! The room was on the top floor, and although the windows didn't open all the way it suited me just fine. When I arrived I found one of my Hostel mates was napping. She was also Asian, and once she was awake I attempted to ask if she was okay and if I had been disturbing her at all. She informed me that she had a headache and I asked if she had any ibuprofen. She smiled and said yes, but that it wasn't working. 

Later after I'd settled in some and she was more awake we had a wonderful and thankfully successful attempt at having a conversation. I learned her name, which I unfortunately forgot, and that she was from South Korea. She was incredibly sweet and we laughed as we attempted to communicate with each other. I told her that I had made Kim Bop at one point and she got incredibly excited! She gave me a  small bag of Korean rice and asked me if I would make Kim Bop again someday! 

I decided to use that night to catch up a bit in my paper journal and have some quiet time. Before going to dinner the nice Korean girl handed me a peach that was delicious as a random present. I then ran and gave her back a nectarine in return! We both laughed and said many thank yous as she left to go eat with some friends. 

I had dinner at the Hostel's restaurant and recieced half a chicken that I'd mistakenly ordered in my attempt to bumble my way through speaking French. 

The food wasn't great, but it was sufficient.

The next day I wandered down to see Yifu on his computer with a long list of things that he needed to do. I met a friend of his from Australia named Denise. We introduced ourselves and then I proceeded to tag along with her for some site seeig for the rest of the day! 

We visited the local Notre Dame Cathedrale and saw the presntation at noon of the astronomical clock! A moving mastery of Swiss clockwork with many paintings, animatronics and impressive time keeping. A piece of machinery that is really ahead of it's time. 

After this we took a boat tour of Strasbourg's many canals. There were two lochs that brought our tour boat up and down through the canal work, which was a really interesting part of the tour. I learned that there had been a torture bridge that in the twelth century had been used to torture prostitutes and unfaithful wives. The audio tour to go along with it was so emotionally neutral though it was hard not to laugh simply from the discomfort of how passionless the voice was in mentioning this. 

There was a church that had burned down where apparently a fat monk had blocked the only useable exit with his girth, causing the death of twenty people, as well as an architect who was beaten because the spire of the church he'd worked on had a very funny shape to it. 

The European Houses of Parlimant reside in Strasbourg. They're these lovely glass buildings and an interesting constrast to the other older buildings inside the city proper. 

Strasbourg being on the border between Germany, France and Luxembourg make it a great location and a symbol of peace to the EU. 

The next day I trekked out on my own to visit Le Petite France and climb the cathedrales steps. I found this Notre Dame cathedrale to be much more impressive then the more famous cathedrale of the same name in Paris. It's larger and the gothic architecture was much more intricate that any other cathedrale I have visited thus far. 

I then went back to my Hostel to do some more writing and take some time to reflect some on my trip so far. I had a few painful moments of homesickness, but it passed fine. 

That night I had a few very irritating girls from Canada in my dorm room though. They were going into their second year in college and for some reason seemed to think that my traveling alone was strange and that I was somehow below them for some odd reason. They didn't like the French shower in the Hostel either, which I found both irritating and really funny to hear them bitch about. 

For the unknowing, in many places in France they have showers with push buttons that pump out a finite amount of water with each use. I think It's a smart idea because it saves water and makes it easier to shampoo your hair and condition. They thought it was the most awful thing in creation. 

They would alternately be condescending to me and then ask me all these questions as if I knew everything about the Hostel I'm staying at.  The next morning they forgot their keys to the room twice and I had to let them both back into the room. 

The night before I had a much better room mate, a woman from the south of France who did not speak any English. Using my iPod as a tool and piecing together words from my language guide we managed to have a very basic introduction and conversation about our professions, journey and how warm the room was. 

There was a lot of laughing and patient use of time as we slowly figured out how that talk to each other. She had either traveled or was traveling to Nepal to build houses and trek the mountains. She had a cell phone that was powered by a mini solar panel and a flashlight and you crank to charge the battery and use. I exclaimed my wonder over these objects with simple noises and facial expressions, since I have no idea how to say WOW in French, which ilicited more chuckling and hand gesturing. 

The next morning I excitedly headed out from the train station into Trier Germany to meet up with Ali and her parents and have a few adventures and a more relaxing journey as my trip starts to wind down. 

More to come about Trier soon. 

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