Thanks to some construction traffic, we arrived late (and hungry) in Strasbourg. A few road chocolates hardly go a long way when you’re moving at a snail speed across the German border; but, thankfully we had some summer lounge grooves to keep us sane.
We drove around river bends, over bridges, and through the city centre before arriving at our hotel: the Regent Contades.
Checking into our room, it was the perfect haven for the next two nights. A king sized bed, two lounge chairs, marble bathroom counters, two sinks (a relationship-saver, really), and of course, the best of all – cozy white bathrobes and soft pillows.
But, before snuggling up in one of those warm cloud-like robes and calling it a night, we figured we should grab dinner. Quickly locating the heart of the old quarter (just head towards the largest church within eye sight), we skipped inside and grabbed a chair at Maison Kammerzell. Dating back to the 1400s, the restaurant was filed with wooden tables, low ceilings, and good, hearty food. Most important of all – it was full. If you’re a fellow tourist, I’m sure you have come to realize that a full house is not your enemy – rather, it’s your shining beacon towards a good meal.
After dinner we darted back through the pouring rain to the hotel with coats hung over our heads, quickly plunking into bed and heading off to dreamland.
As usual, it was my stomach that woke me up – demanding a breakfast that could support the long day ahead. I dressed in my most respectable pajama-wear and headed down to the breakfast hall. Amidst the spread of french pastries, fresh baguettes, eggs, and charcuterie – I devoured a few glasses of OJ and carb loaded, glancing out the window every so often to pinch myself and remember this was real life. If only...
I mean really, when these are the views as you eat breakfast, what can you complain about?
After a warm shower and some fresh clothes, Cole & I headed out the door with no real plan for the day. We wandered aimlessly for the first few blocks, crossing bridge after bridge as we made our way back to the old quarter, or Grand Ile.
Renting an audio guide from the tourism centre, we grabbed a map and headed on a somewhat planned journey through all the major sites and historical landmarks.
The covered bridge and tower.
The classic french and german housing from a variety of centuries.
And of course, everything in between.
With the sun shining and the sounds of church bells ringing, we got lost (somewhat figuratively) in the winding roads and pedestrian streets, letting our feet choose which corner to turn and which bridge to cross.
Every pedestrian square was filled with an aroma of roasted chestnuts, cooked on charcoal grills and stuffed into paper bags. If there is one thing I have come to know about the European lifestyle, it’s that they love their Marrons Chauds.
We grabbed a spot on a busy patio (in late October!) and sipped hot chocolate as we people-watched. With no real agenda, we just took in what the city had to offer – from iron signs above the doors, to ivy covered houses and cobblestone roads.
After returning to the hotel for an afternoon nap and the chance to rest our feet, we headed back out into the night – this time, with a purpose. Having seen the city in the day, now was the perfect chance to silently glide through the waters and under each unique bridge by boat.
Hopping on the Batorama, we floated past some of the same sights we had seen earlier that day – and a few new ones. The city was lit in deep blues, purples, and reds – illuminating the historic centres and highlighting its rich history of French and German influence.
To be honest, I had never really thought much about taking a boat tour as a means to explore a town – but I can assure you, gliding through the water while peering at illuminated churches, towers, and of course, sneaking a peak into the riverside condos, Strasbourg seemed quite magical.
^ One more time, just for emphasis ^
An hour later, our eyes were droopy and our feet tired, calling us to head back to the hotel, throw on a pair of slippers, and slide into the crisp sheets before resting our heads for the night.
The making of this post was aided by the Office de Tourisme de Strasbourg and the Regent Contades, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I had high hopes for Strasbourg, and it didn’t disappoint. It has all the necessities of a larger city, while remaining rich in history and culture – with the entire old quarter preserved as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to stay out late into the night, exploring every nook and cranny and photographing it all.