Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France (Last Stop on our Road Trip)

We left Paris early and got in my SUV and headed towards Strasbourg for one night in another airbnb apartment (a few minutes outside the city, great stay).  Since we were headed from Paris to Germany we wanted to make one more stop on the border of France and Germany to get one last look in France and to break up the driving.  I'm glad I chose to see what Strasbourg had to offer because besides my flea trip to Tongeren, Belgium, Strasbourg was my favorite destination on our road trip.  It's beautiful.

It's not surprising that you see so many German style buildings in Strasbourg.  Not only because it borders Germany but because it had also been considered part of Germany.  It is a city with a complicated history between Germany and France but ultimately serves as an area where both the French and Germans call home and we heard people speaking German just as much if not more than French.

I really liked Strasbourg because it looks like a perpetual Christmas town, very much like the German "Christmas Town" of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, which I had the pleasure of visiting during Christmas last year.  You can check out the town and see the similarities here.  (It is the last town in the post).  I would love to come back to Strasbourg during Christmas.

We decided to tackle the beauty of Strasbourg by simply walking through the city of Le Petite France.  It was very comical because there were tourists EVERYWHERE taking pictures.  Everywhere we walked there were cameras and people flashing away.  I obviously was doing the same thing, but you'd think Michael Jackson had risen from the dead with the vigor in which these people were flashing away.  It's not hard to see why.  This is a storybook town.

Fun Fact: I thought this town was called Le Petite France because it looked like a small France.  It is called Le Petite France because of the hospice for people with Syphilis that was built there in the fifteenth century.  Syphilis was otherwise known as the "French Disease."  Interesting.

Strasbourg is situated on the Rhine and a big attraction is taking a boat cruise down the river.

As we walked closer to the Strasbourg Cathedral (of our Lady), there were many cute little tourist shops.  This shop featured some local pottery from the Alsace region.  So pretty!  And so different from the look of Polish pottery.

Carousel ride anyone?

Here it is, the cathedral.  It was hard to get a good shot because it was right in the middle of the town.  And you can see all the touristy shops near the cathedral.  The cathedral was built in the middle ages as you can see with the gothic/romanesque architecture.

Inside the church and all it's glory!  Speaking of touristy, this cathedral even had a souvenir shop inside of it (gasp!) I mean come on...

Below is the astronomical clock inside the church.  You can see more astronomical clocks at my posts on Prague and Venice.  Though the clock no longer works and hasn't for some time, it is still pleasing to the eye and a big draw to visitors.

Outside of the cathedral, the cobblestone streets are lined with cafes, so we sat down at an Italian restaurant for dinner.  Don't ask why we chose Italian instead of French.  Decisions are hasty when made in hunger.

I enjoyed another goat cheese and honey salad with tomato bisque and some Alsace region wine.  Very good!

So I thought Strasbourg was only this quaint little town but as we walked around more, we realized it was huge and it went way beyond all the timber housing.  It had a very metro feel to it too with modern shops and restaurants.  Strasbourg just kept on surprising me.

Snapped a shot of these lovelies.  The store was closed.

Before we left, we decided to see if we could grab a drink before we headed back to our home-stay for the night.  We saw a Tapas bar and sat down for a  drink.  I ordered a 7 euro margarita.  Why they gave it to me in a martini glass, I will never know, but it literally looked and tasted like they dunked the glass straight in the toilet and sprinkled some table salt into it.  Why I thought there would be some semblance of a decent Mexican drink in Europe, I don't know and I still haven't found a good Mexican restaurant anywhere in Europe.  I usually don't complain about my food or drinks, because I don't want people to F*** with my stuff but this was the worse margarita I've ever had so I told the waiter I didn't like it and gave it back and he still charged me anyways... go figure.

  But besides the horrendous margarita, Strasbourg was absolutely fantastic.  It was my favorite stop on the trip and hopefully you guys can get a feel for Strasbourg yourself.  We only spent a day there and it was enough but if you can spend two days there then don't hesitate because there is plenty to do.  I imagine going during Christmas time would be stunning.

This brings my family and I to the end of our fabulous extreme Euro road trip (tear).  But I had a great time at all of these places and hope you guys enjoyed reading along.

Favorite Thing About Strasbourg:
Taking pictures of the picturesque town

Out of all of the places we went on our road trip, Arlon/Bastogne, Luxembourg, Tongeren, Trier, Paris, and Strasbourg, what was your favorite?

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Paris, France

Paris, France (Stop #5 on our Road Trip)

Paris!  I was very excited about this one.  I mean, most of the interior design elements and furniture that I admire is from France or French inspired.  I was so excited to visit, especially with my family.  We left our home-stay in Arlon, Belgium and drove about 4 hours away to get to our new apartment that we had rented outside of the city for one night.  

France is beautiful and I was the one that had to drive along the countryside to get there.  It was actually a pretty relaxing drive and a lot different looking than the Germany country side (and the speed limits are a lot slower).  To save money again, we booked an apartment with and we stayed a bit outside of the city.  Staying in the city center would have cost a lot more and we didn't want to drive in the city either.  We kind of got a late start and arrived at our apartment around 2 pm.  We had a bit of a problem with the parking situation.  Our host's website said "free parking", but when we got there they said that we had to reserve the free parking in advance and we had to find a place to park in the street!  This was very frustrating and it took us about two hours to find a good spot and then head to the metro line to get to the city.

We finally figured things out and thankfully Brandon had already visited Paris a few months previous to our trip so he was very good at helping us navigate the metro into the city.  A few line switches and by 4 pm we finally made it into the city.  This was  a very late start for us and getting into the city at 4 pm wasn't exactly what we had planned, but we had to roll with it.  There was so much to get to.  Straight out of the metro we turned the block and this is what we saw...

From what I had been hearing for a long time was the Eiffel Tower is so overrated and not a big deal.  I even heard this from Brandon so my expectations weren't too high. I'm sorry, but how jaded are you that the Eiffel Tower is "overrated"?  I thought it was beautiful.  It was so much bigger than I had thought and after all the hours of straight traveling it took to get there seeing the Tower was a relief and I was so excited.  Brandon and I even snuck a kiss under the Tower.

We thought about going up to the top.  We figured if we tried to go later on at night the line wouldn't be so long, but in the Summer I guess the line is always long.

With all the traveling, we were very hungry and needed dinner.  I was so excited to try French food as I'd already had some good food in Belgium.  We walked about a mile past the Eiffel Tower and sat down at a cafe style restaurant.  I wish I could remember the name of it but the food was on par.  I did take some pictures though.

I had duck confite with fries and one of the most amazing glasses of wine I've ever had.  And my brother an I split some escargot (snails) and fromage (cheese).  The escargot was good, but it wasn't as good as the escargot that I've also tried in Jamaica.  I'm a cheese lover and had to try the cheese in France.  It was a Camembert which is similar to Brie.  The cheese was great.

This was a good dinner.  Our waiter was very entertaining (and a little cocky).  He even popped in one of our pics (uninvited).  What a character.

We basically only had a half of day to hoof it around the city and see as much as possible.  I don't know how to stress this enough, but HALF A DAY IN PARIS IS NOT ENOUGH.  Even one day in Paris is not enough.  I don't know what I was thinking when I planned only one day in Paris.  This is a HUGE city and all of the attractions are spread about.  If you do go to Paris spend AT LEAST TWO NIGHTS there.  But we were determined to see the basics at least so we headed to the Louvre.

Of course it was closed on a Tuesday, but we just enjoyed the weather and taking pictures of the views outside.  Plus my brother (the chef) wanted to go to this chocolate restaurant he was raving about that was a few blocks away from the Louvre called, Angelina.  Randomly, that was closed too.  Tough break.  Haha, I should also mentioned that right after this we tried to make it to the Catacombs which Brandon was super excited to see.  Can you guess if it was open?  That's okay, this just gives me a reason to go back.

 Above, The Arc De Triomphe, built to commemorate Napoleon's military victories.  Below, the Seine River.

No time to check out the shopping district in Paris which is what every girl dreams of, so I took a window picture and we moved on.

This was a long day, though a short day actually in Paris and we did sooo much walking.  Brandon calculated that we must have done 10 + miles of walking in 7 hours which is how much time we actually spent in the city.  We made our way back on the metro and to our apartment for the night.

Like I mentioned above, Paris cannot be done in a day.  There is too much to see and it is too spread out.  I didn't get to show you another side of Paris, just the great time I had seeing the main attractions.  Save yourself the trouble and book an extra night.  It will be worth it.  If I had more time I would have loved to do so many more things, at the very least check out the shopping district, Paris fleas, Versailles, and The Catacombs.  Germany borders France so I'm not too far away.  I'll definitely be back.   Maybe for a girls trip.

Favorite Thing about Paris:
Sounds cliche but the Eiffel Tower.  It wasn't "overrated" for me.

Last Stop: Strasbourg, France

If you only had 7 hours in Paris, what would you do?  And, Go!

Trier, Germany

Trier, Germany (Stop #4 on our Road Trip):

For the last night at our home-stay in Arlon, Belgium, we went to Trier, Germany, for a day trip.  It was only an hour drive from Arlon.  I wanted to got to Trier because I've heard great things about it and it's said to be the oldest city in Germany founded around 16 BC.  Also, a little part of me wanted to be back in Germany so that my phone would have service again... 

Trier did not disappoint.  It was beautiful as soon as we go there.  The last few places we had visited on our trip i.e. Arlon, Bastogne, and Luxembourg City, were great, but I was still waiting for the wow factor and besides the Tongeren Flea (which is in a whole other category) Trier was my second favorite stop on the trip.  As soon as we got into town both Brandon and I were happy to be back in Germany. 

Trier has a lot of medieval Roman elements to an otherwise typical German city and you can see hints of its Roman past with structures like the Porta Nigra above which is the large Roman gate that hasn't changed much from when it was built around 186-200 AD.  Below you can see the gate from the other side and at this point you are in the city center.

Passing through the Porta Nigra, we headed towards the city center which is called the Hauptmarkt.  It was a beautiful day; sunny and breezy.  The Hauptmarkt was absolutely beautiful and it had a great vibe to it.  It was busy but not necessarily crowded and the Hauptmarkt will be like this all throughout the Summer.  You can see the array of outdoor cafes where you can stop for a coffee or lunch.

Along with the Roman architecture, you can see all different type of architecture including Timber Framing which is what Americans think of when they think of Germany.  I love Timber built houses and buildings!

By the time we had gotten to Trier we were already hungry for lunch.  My mother had suggested Zum Domstein which was the most recommended restaurant in Trier.  We didn't have to walk too far to find it in the Hauptmarkt.  There was no seating left outside, but plenty of seating available inside.  The restaurant's website flaunted traditional Roman food and wine from the Mosel Region as Trier is set on the banks of the Moselle River.  You can also go on a boat cruise during the Summer months.

I should have taken photos of our meals because everyone loved what they had.  I had been eating a lot of salads with goat cheese lately and my salad was delicious.  I also had some tomato soup with pesto and some of the Mosel Region wine.  To give you an idea of some of the other dishes that my family ate were schnitzel with sour kraut (typical food of Germany), pork and potato dumplings, and goulash soup.  We all have to try each other's dishes everywhere we go and I would recommend Zum Domstein if you ever go to Trier.

We spent most of the day shopping in the Hauptmarkt.  They had so many neat clothing stores and little home decor stores.  I ended up buying four tops, a skirt, and a dress.  They also had 
H & M which I love.  They are everywhere in Europe (they are a Swedish company).  If I was a fashion blogger I'd model all my new outfits for you.  My mother and I got some great shopping in while the boys decided to find some geocaches in the area.  Win for everyone!

After some shopping, we walked over to the The Cathedral of St. Peter (Trier Dom) which is also right in the Hauptmarkt.  It is the oldest Cathedral in Germany and Romanesque in architecture.

The inside, however, has elements of Roman, Gothic, and Baroque architecture.

Later, we visited the Karl Marx Haus and museum.  Karl Marx is known as the "father of Communism" and wrote The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital.  He was also a philosopher and revolutionary socialist amongst other things.  He was born in this house in 1818 and inside the house you can take an audio tour.  The audio tour is available in English and it discusses Marx's life and the history of Communism.  It was a nice museum, very informative, and also right near the city center.

You can see a view from one of the outside balconies within the house.  

The last stop on my list of things to see in Trier were the Imperial Roman Baths (Kaiserthermen).  It was too late in the day to enter the center and actually tour the baths, but it was okay because we just walked around it and took pictures.  I love the way the light hits from all angles in this picture.

As I was walking around the baths I shot a picture of some of the pretty flowers growing alongside the wall.

That was the end of our day in Trier.  A day was just enough time to see everything we wanted to see but given the opportunity I'd go again.  The great thing about Trier is that everything is in walking distance (besides the Roman Baths).

Favorite Thing About Trier:
For the shopper in me, it had some great clothing and apparel stores.

Next Stop: Paris, France

What would you do in Trier?

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