Monday, November 17, 2008

Our trip to Strasbourg, France

Saturday morning, we packed the car and were on the road around twelve o'clock, on our way to Strasbourg, France. Thanks to our wonderful navigation system, we made it there without any problems. Along the way, we saw many castles, towers, farmland, and trees. With Coretta, Geno, and I in the back seat we did pretty well. Even Geno only screeched a couple of times to let us know that he was still there and needed some "Mow" his only and most favored word.

Once to our apartment hotel, we found a parking garage and parked. It is amazing that any cars can fit with the way they have designed their parking ramps. Very small spaces and even smaller elevators. Most elevators could fit two people tops at a time. Once checked in, we decided to explore Strasbourg on foot. Since we chose a hotel in the heart of the city, it was very easy to find your way around.

All of the streets were cobblestone, with many buildings in both the Swiss cottage style as well as Gothic and Victorian buildings in the french style dating back to the 1800's. Everywhere you turned, there was what I like to call an architect's dream.

One in particular was the Cathedral of Our Lady of Notre Dame. When you first come upon it, it is so massive and beautiful, you can't believe that it is real. To get the whole thing into a single picture would be impossible. Outside there are angel statues carved into the structure and inside is just as spectacular. Inside, the stained glass windows were beautiful. As you walked through we saw the pulpit, baptismal font that were uniquely carved out of stone as well.

We also saw a beautiful statue of Saint Anthony who happens to be Coretta's favorite patron saint, so she knelt down and said a prayer. We also lit a candle and prayed for those less fortunate as well as our family. The altar area also had hand painted murals and beautiful architectural design. The most unique thing there was the astronomical clock. I think you could stare at that for hours and never completely take in all of the symbolism. From the warrior, the skeleton, Jesus statue, particular animals like the lion, and the earth this clock was amazing. At the stroke of twelve o'clock every day, the clock actually re-enacts the Last Judgment. We also saw some of the oldest confessionals I have ever seen and Coretta reminded me that she has not received that sacrament yet.

I bought a book on the architecture and the meaning of all the statues and Coretta got a special gold coin with the Cathedral on the back. In a way it has become her good luck charm. She put it in her pocket and said whenever she needs to pray, she will take it out. It really is a must see if you come to Europe.

Coretta and I took off and did some Christmas shopping. The shops and boutiques were amazing and considerably cheaper than Switzerland. Coretta bought a scarf, black jacket, and hat. As we strolled the streets, there were several markets with many selling art. I picked up five pieces, two by Hansi, one by Paul Klee (famous Swiss artist), Gustav Klimt, and Claude Monet. This wonderful city blends both the culture of Germany and France with ease. The food was spectacular and the people were friendly and courteous. This by far has been my favorite place we have traveled so far.

Here's a slideshow with even more photos.

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