Friday, August 21, 2009

Strasbourg and Basel

One day out of the blue I decided, I will go and visit Strasbourg. The main attraction being its over hundred meter high cathedral and European parliament. Anyway,
Train station
Train Station
once decided I put into the act of preparing for the trip. First I called one of my old friends to check if he would be around when I visit Strasbourg and then once confirmed his presence I booked my tickets. It is close to seven hours by train from Grenoble. Started early morning and reached around early afternoon. Had a light lunch at his place and then mission Strasbourg starts. First stop the famous cathedral. Built over a timescale measuring in centuries this cathedral
The Cathedral
is the sixth tallest church in the world. Me and my friend went around the place for sometime admiring the Gothic architecture before stepping into the church to look at the glass works. Currently the church is going through a renovation which is supposed to last for 29 months. Anyway that did not block our view of the main tower. We took some pictures. It is possible to climb half way up the church. We decided to do that the next day when we go around town with my friend and his wife. After spending sometime at the cathedral we went around the city clicking pictures here and there.
Kleber Place
Kleber Place
Since I reached in the afternoon we could get only few hours before it became dark and we decided to return home. Next day started with a visit to a place called Petit France.
Petit France
Petit France
Its a collection of old buildings but the name is not due to its architectural reason but rather due to a strange historical reason. According to wikipedia the name was given by its former German inhabitants because of the numerous prostitutes living in the area and in Germany prostitution was known as the "French business". Anyway, the place was nice to go around though I guess the place is now known for its beauty rather than its notoriety. I should have mentioned it earlier that the city of Strasbourg had been in and out of German occupation from time to time. One can read its detailed history on the net. After strolling around a little more, me and my friend headed back to his place for some light lunch and then back again to the streets but this time his wife was also with us since we were going to have the city view from the top of cathedral. Within 15-20 minutes we were on the top of the cathedral, not the top of the tower, and the view was simply unimaginable. It is true a bird's eye view of a city is always marvelous and if the city is as old as Strasbourg
City view
City View
from the top of
the cathedral
then the amalgamation of the old and the new forms a view that is unimaginable. We stayed at the top for half an hour or so and then went to see the Louise Weiss building. Inaugurated in 1999
Louise Weiss building
it is the seat of European parliament. Well, nothing much to say about it. Just that from whatever little we could see it seemed gorgeous. Our next stop, Jardin de l'Orangerie, its a beautiful garden with a small pond for boating. There I saw the white stork or the Alsace Bird. One thing amazed me most is the size of the nest of these birds. After we spent some time in the garden it occurred to my friend to visit the border between France and Germany. It is a place twenty minutes by bus. The river
The nest
The nest of the
white stork
Rhine divides the two country. There are many bridges connecting the two sides and one can walk or drive from one country to another. We went up a walking bridge, spent sometime on the river Rhine and then
from the bridge
From the bridge
on river Rhine
called the trip off for the day. Next day turned out to be a holiday in France and so my friend decided to visit Basel in Switzerland which is around 1 hour by train from Strasbourg. The city is just
Basel city
Basel on the
banks of
river Rhine
like any other European city with its mix of old and new buildings along the river Rhine flowing through the heart of the city. There we saw an exhibition of collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh. This was my first time that I was seeing original paintings of any great artist so I enjoyed it though my friends I guess were bored. Then somebody suggested that we go to the Basel zoo. Having come from India which is full of wild animals I was little reluctant to see it but then in a group majority counts. Anyway I was more interested in the cathedrals
Basel town hall
Town hall of
and architectural wonders that the city had to provide. But I would say the zoo trip was good. Though I was reluctant but
Statue in town hall
A statue
in the
town hall
I did see some animals which I did not see in India. After the walk through the enormous zoo all of us were more than exhausted and time was also short for us. Hence it was decided that we would see the famous city hall and the cathedral and then take the train back to Strasbourg. The city hall was closed but we could access the main courtyard. The town hall has little medieval look. From there to the cathedral which here too was under extensive renovation. So then back to the station and then back to Strasbourg. The next day was my day to return to Grenoble. In the morning I went to see the city again. Being sunday it was completely deserted. In the afternoon I took my train back to Grenoble.

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