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Here is a continuation about our trip to Strasbourg, France a couple weeks ago. Jiri and I took an overnight Eurolines bus from Prague, Czech Republic to Strasbourg, France. It took around ten hours to travel, going across Germany most of the night,and finally reaching Strasbourg around 6:30 Saturday morning. Our trip through Germany was mostly uneventful. Our bus stopped in Plzen, and then crossed the German border where our bus was stopped by the German police.There is an interesting procedure Czech tour buses must undergo before traveling too far into Germany. The German police typically signal each tour bus to follow the police car to a rest stop area. At the rest stop, the police board the bus and check everyone's passports. The police are looking for illegal immigrants, drug sellers, and who knows what else. It's always funny for me when the police finally take my passport. They see I'm an American, and immediately become very animated. I guess they become excited at the prospect of finding an illegal American in the Eurozone.
This has happened to me a couple of other times, but the police are quickly disappointed once they review my passport and find I have a legal residence permit for the Czech Republic, and I am not an illegal traveler in the Eurozone. On this trip, the German police took away what looked like at least of a third of the passengers' passports, taking them to their police car to verify all the information. Thankfully, everyone seemed to be legal and the bus had no problems going on with the trip. We were stopped for about thirty minutes with the police at the rest area.
A Long RideAfter that, our trip was uneventful and long, and we finally pulled in to Strasbourg early on Saturday morning. It was cold, but it felt very good to finally be out of the bus when we reached Strasbourg. Jiri got our luggage and we began the long walk to our hotel. We stayed at the Victoria Garden Appart'Hotel (point A on the map below). Thankfully they had a luggage closet where we could put our suitcases till check-in time rolled around. Check-in time was around 10:30 that morning, so we had some time to become acquainted with the central part of Strasbourg Saturday morning.
Grand Island & Notre Dame CathedralThe central part of Strasbourg is called the Grand Island, and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. You can see the Grand Island on the map above--it is the part of the city that looks like a ring. The ring is formed by the canals that surround the Grand Island. The city center is the oldest part Strasbourg, and is a wonderful mix of new and old architecture, parks, canals and more. The city center offers a very lively shopping district, along with restaurants, museums and more. One of our first places to visit was the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Before the city of Strasbourg existed, it was the site of a Roman city called Argentoratum. The current site of the cathedral was first used as a Roman sanctuary or holy place. Later, Christians used the site to build the cathedral. The Notre Dame Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The first church of this name was built in 1015 and was of Romanesque style, but was later destroyed by fire. Renovation of the church began in 1176 and was completed in 1439. At this point the cathedral was redone in the Gothic style. One interesting note is that the church stands at 142 meters (465.879 feet), making it the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1864. The church is a beautiful mixture of French and German influences. We actually visited the church twice in order to take it all in.
The cathedral has so many things to see and treasures to appreciate. Some of the stained glass windows in the church are from the 12th to 14th centuries, there is an exquisite astronomical clock from the 17th century Renaissance period, and precious statues and tapestries all over the sanctuary and side chapels. The organ in the church is huge and overwhelming, but beautiful. Part of the organ dates back to 1385, and the organ works to this day.
The Astronomical Clock
That's all for today!
Photo credits: Jiri Vacik
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