Sunday, January 20, 2008

Strasbourg

We left Munich on December 23rd and arrived in Strasbourg mid afternoon. Strasbourg is more than 2000 years old, established during the Roman Empire, and is located in the Alsace region at the confluence of the Ill and the Rhine rivers. Strasbourg is currently in France - this section of the Rhine currently serves as the border between France and Germany - but the entire Alsace region has gone back and forth from German to French control for the past 3 centuries, depending on who came out ahead in the most recent war. The European Parliament and the European Union headquarters are in the modern part of Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is known for its Christmas market and celebration, and has a significant section where the streets are open only to pedestrians. We spent the late afternoon and evening among the crowds on the streets and in the Christmas Market area. The next day we took a boat tour of the city (covered and heated). The boat was full, and we had the option of 14 different languages to listen to the recorded commentary on the headphones provided. That evening we had an Alsatian Christmas Eve dinner at a quaint restaurant and then strolled the empty streets.

Barbara and I went to the midnight mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral. The doors opened at 11 pm; we arrived about 10 minutes after 11 and were lucky to find seats in the next to last row. By 11:30 the sides and back were full of people standing. There were easily more than 1000 people present, all of whom were bundled up to ward off the cold.

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