Strasbourg is another winner. A town brimming with croissants, crepes and cathedrals. How could you not fall for France?
We had so many highlights: posing as if we were on the Titanic, a boat tour with a pirate, angelic butts, Cathedral light shows, homemade crepes, traditional Japanese curry, Steelers fans and “Panty-Dropper” wine. (That was a preview of what’s to come in this blog post. Are you intrigued? Did I get ya hooked? Did I? Did I?)
On Sunday, we arrived in Strasbourg and wandered around. All of the homes have small windows popping out of the attic, so that even the rooves look welcoming.
Our host Julien, a friend of HTC grad Tom Wagener, led us to a classic Strasbourger dinner: cream pizza. Instead of tomato sauce, the pizza is topped with cream sauce, ham and cheese. The crust is thin and crunchy like pita chips, and I ate six pieces without taking a breath between bites. It was that good.
Our host Julien had another friend staying with him, also named Julien. No, readers, in case you were wondering, not every man in Strasbourg is named Julien. So for the remainder of this post Julien 1 is our host and Julien 2 is his guest, for clarification purposes. (We loved them both equally.)
The next morning, we awoke to find the best croissants of our lives waiting for us. Gina and I each had one filled with chocolate and split one filled with almond paste. Almond paste may sound foul, but it was delicious. It was thick, sweet and nutty mixed with the thin, flaky croissant.
Bellies full, we set off to explore the city, which was easy seeing as how Julien 1′s apartment is located right by the city center. We could stick our heads out the window and see the cathedral. We were that close. Julien 1 showed us that if you look at a specific point over the main entrance, you can see an angel standing on a man who is flashing his butt at passersby. You can see his … um, crack, if you get my gist. I love knowing the secrets of these cities (especially if it involves angels mooning us).
We stumbled upon a boat cruise complete with English audio guide, but it turned out (as it normally does with audio guides) that it chose to share the most uninteresting facts ever unearthed by Strasbourgers such as: “Sauerkrat is a delicacy is Strasbourg. You might find this fact amusing, Sauerkraut is actually from China.” (I am not exaggerating here, those are actual quotes.)
So, of course, Gina and I switched to the kid’s audio guide narrated by a pirate and his talking parrot Coco. They shared exciting facts like which towers were jails, to which Coco added “BRRRRRAAAAAHHH to the dungeon BRAAAHH!!” We preferred this version without a doubt.
We then went to the Tomi Ungerer Museum. He is a satrical children’s illustrator in the United States and France. It was wicked cool, but we couldn’t take pictures there, so it is hard to explain his style without imagery. (Google him!)
That night, Julien and Julien (I think they could make the male version of Julie & Julia) took us to another classic Strasbourger restaurant in an old winery. Julien 1 ordered us what he and Tom Wagener have nicknamed “panty-dropper” wine, aka, it can drop the panties of any girl who drinks it. (Don’t worry, all of our panties stayed firmly in place.) But the sweet, fruity wine was delectable, and both Gina and I gorged ourselves on it and chicken and speatzle, a Strasbourg pasta made with egg and potato.
The Julien pair walked us around the best area of Strasbourg called “Le Petite France,” which is bedecked with winding streets and medieval bridges. It’s moments like these that make me think, “Wow, I’m really doing this.” I am in France, wandering the streets, laughing and joking as the French language swirls around me.
But that mature moment quickly passed when we found a playground with a boat-shaped play set. Gina and I posed as Jack and Rose from the Titanic at the front. (We had to. It was a boat shaped play set.)
Next, we headed back to the Cathedral, but this time we viewed it from the streets. Every night in July, there is a light show on the giant cathedral in the center of town. Yes, the light show is actually on the cathedral. Think the light show on the Beauty and the Beast castle in Disney, only less kitschy. The orchestral music started and the blue, red, orange and green lights danced across the massive cathedral. I cheered like a child on Christmas.
The next day, Gina and I wandered through the shops. We sat with baguette sandwiches and eclairs by the river in La Petit France, and then, we headed to the top of the cathedral.
Someone must have forgotten to warn us that we had to climb five hundred million stairs (an exact statistic) to reach the top. I thought my quads were just going to leap out of my legs and surrender, white flag and all.
When we finally reached the top, however, it was worth it. To our right was Germany and the Black Forest, to our left was France, and right below us was Strasbourg. We just sat and looked at the clouds and listened as music wafted from the city center (a band was sound checking a new venue; they were really good).
For dinner, we helped prepare traditional Japenese curry (and by helped, I simply mean Gina and I peeled potatoes while the Juliens cooked). “Japenese cuisine is not all sushi you know,” Julien 1 joked. And he should know, his fiancé is Japenese, and both Julien 1 and Julien 2 are Japenese culture aficionados.
Julien 1 was having a dinner part with a few friends, and we felt home among friends as we sipped more “panty-dropper” wine and tucked into the spicy Japenese curry (the curry had meat, carrots, potatoes and onions, so it was like an American stew but hotter). For dessert, Julien 2 slaved in the kitchen to makes us homeade crepes.
How does life get any better than when you are sitting in France, sipping wine, and you go for your second nutella crepe still warm from the pan? It doesn’t.
So just as we felt at home in Strasbourg, we had to leave. It also probably felt just like home to me, because Julien 1 is a HUGE Pittsburgh fan. He loves the Steelers, and he has a picture of the city (the Point specifically) hanging over his bed!
Oh Strasbourg, we will miss you, but we are off to Paris now.
With love from Strasbourg and almost Paris!