So we have one more day to fill before heading south again. After the usual breakfast in bed of muesli and a cup of tea, we head to the local market which is open again and have a coffee and buy some things for tonight’s dinner. Today is a lot more overcast and the forecast is for showers.
We then have to drop into the agency that provided this apartment to pick up our deposit and then head to the train station. Our French friend, Anthony had suggested that if we had a free day we could head to Strasbourg. So why not!
Even the slow regional trains here go fast, so Strasbourg was only a 45 min train trip away. We arrive just on 11am and luckily there is a tourist office at the train station so we can pick up a map and get a general idea of what we need to see. These tourist office people are pretty impressive, with all the languages they speak and they are so nice and helpful, we have had no problems at all. The other day, we had to queue to ask one of these people a question in Colmar and by the time I got to the counter, she had already spoken in French, German and Spanish…needless to say English was not a problem either!
We decide that we will focus on the cathedral, as that seems to be the standard attraction to see. And wow, it certainly is! In the typical style of most European Cathedrals (Salisbury Cathedral excepted of course!) it is a mishmash of architectural styles, 12th – 15th century, and while it is basically a Gothic cathedral, it is quite different from anything I have seen before. The detail on the outside is so intricate even up the spire that the whole thing looks like lace work. The three portals on the front are a mass of carvings and you could spend ages trying to see it all. Then you go inside and it is lit by a mass of wonderful stain glass windows, as impressive as Chartres Cathedral. With the exception of an impressive pulpit, frescos behind the alter, and the most impressive organ pipe loft hanging off one of the walls… the rest of the decoration is reasonably limited. I am so glad the Baroque folk did not get their hands on this one! There is also a very impressive Renaissance astronomical clock that still provides all sorts of astronomical readings.
Next stop was lunch and we headed to a café. Timing was good as the rain started as we were eating. After lunch we spent a few more hours wandering around the old town and admiring much more medieval and renaissance architecture.
We were back on the train about 4:30 and back at our apartment by 5:30. We headed out again after a rest to have a glass of wine and get access to wifi so we could sort out tomorrows trip back to the south of France. It is so fantastic having these fast trains, as getting around the countryside is so easy and with the Eurail pass that I bought us, it does not matter how far we travel..