Munich was a great teaser for our upcoming visit to Frankfurt, and served as a lovely stopover that meant we didn’t have to change trains about a million times between Verona and Strasbourg. What it also meant was that we’d have to get up before the crack of dawn to catch a 6.24am train from Munich to Strasbourg, as it was the only direct train of the day, and cheaper than the later trains too. The things we do to save a bit of dosh!
And so, after a terrible nights sleep worrying we’d oversleep and miss the train, I was up at 5am to get myself ready. Before long we were checked out of the hotel and taking the short walk to Munich Hauptbahnhof. We’ve been to this station a few times now, so are quite familiar with where everything is. After checking the platform number, we had a mooch around the shops to grab some breakfast bits before settling in to our seats for the ride ahead.
The journey flew past, and 4 hours later we arrived in Strasbourg. As it was still only 10.30am, a time we usually were just getting ready to go out, we still had a full day ahead of us to explore the city. Bags were quickly dropped off at the apartment, and we made the short 5-minute walk in to the city.The main tourist area of Strasbourg is an island, and there are a number of bridges that can be crossed to access the island. As we neared the first bridge, we saw that it was blocked and there were security personnel there. Thinking it was closed, we walked to the next bridge where we found the same thing. Slightly confused, and wondering whether we’d missed the memo that Strasbourg was closed, we watched as other people approached the bridge and had their bags searched before continuing on their way. Ah, now we understood! There was a fairly high police presence in the city during our whole stay, which was a weird balance between comforting and alarming, as it definitely highlighted the danger they were there to try and protect people from.
Once we’d finally crossed a bridge, it was straight to Petite France, the main thing that had made me want to visit Strasbourg. I wasn’t disappointed, and the colourful buildings reflecting off the waterways made for some pretty pictures. Continuing on, we wandered further into the city centre, watching as the tour boats use the canal locks and browsing the Christmas markets we passed.
Coming across our first French church, – yes, Strasbourg is in France, much to the surprise of most of our family… – we stopped in to see how they fared against some of the other churches we’d seen on the trip so far. Although there were tourists roaming around taking photos, there was also a service taking place. Once we realised this, it felt a bit awkward to be taking photos, so we made our way to the back and quietly slipped out. More wandering found us at the cathedral, Notre Dame. As it was closed until 2pm, we spent a while checking out some of the nearby Christmas markets before admitting defeat to the cold and finding a cafe to try and warm up in.
As luck would have it, we were sat in the draughtiest corner known to man, and after sitting in our coats with gloves on we soon called it quits trying to warm up there and joined the fast-moving queue for the cathedral. Another bag search and we were in. Although it was free entry, I’d have happily paid a few euros to be able to sit and soak up the atmosphere and be able to spend a bit of time looking at the church rather than being herded through by the crowds. As we neared the back of the church, there was a rather large crowd waiting for something to happen by the huge astronomical clock. Not wanting to miss out on something, we joined the crowd and waited, camera poised.
Needn’t have bothered, as it didn’t really do anything. The collective ‘huh, is that it?’ signalled the mass disappointment of all the people, who quickly departed from the area, again herding us back toward the main church. Finally giving in to the cold and tiredness, we called it a day and grabbed some dinner and croissants for tomorrow’s breakfast from a supermarket on our way back to the apartment. After a warm shower and bit of chill out time, the early start caught up with us and we turned in for the night, ready for another day of exploring tomorrow.