Day 4- Strasbourg + Road Trip to Brussels.

In the morning I woke up, met Alexander in the lobby for breakfast, but then decided to take my food on the go because we wanted to run to catch the 9:30 boat tour (first tour of the day). They have a 70 minute boat tour through Strasbourg for less than 4 euros if you’re a student, and there are headsets that you can tune to English to learn all kinds of interesting things about Strasbourg. The english version was in an Irish accent and I imagined it was Colin Farrell the entire time, and he made some pretty entertaining jokes. Sadly, it’s been several days now and so much has happened that I can’t really remember much about the tour besides how pretty it was.

On the Boat Tour

On the Boat Tour

For the rest of the pictures I took on the boat tour, click here.

After the tour, we went to the Museum of the history of Strasbourg, which turned out to be free on weekends, and sadly we only had time to get through the 1600s before we had to leave to get lunch before boarding the bus back to Brussels. Interesting fact learned: the first newspaper ever was in Strasbourg! That explains the international journalism school on the boat tour 😉

For lunch I bought Tarte Flambee (on the recommendation of an undergrad friend- Justin Miracle). It’s kind of like a mini-pizza but a thinner/flatbread kind of crust.. and… very uniquely delicious? I was slightly disturbed by the ingredients. I just got the classic one and it was in french but it included a cream sauce, cheese, onions, and … lard? I hope lard means some kind of meat because it looked kind of like little pieces of bacon. Even if it was just pure fat, it was pretty delicious. I also bought a banana and dark chocolate crepe…. one bite was like HEAVEN. I used to not like Dark Chocolate but the digestives in London have converted me and now I’m obsessed with Dark– I’ve “come over to the dark side” so to speak 😉 I had some milk chocolate the other day (which I used to love) and it was bleh. Mmmm talking about this makes me want more dark chocolate now!

Tarte Flambee (and the crepe to the right)

Tarte Flambee (and the crepe to the right)

Anyway, so I took all that food on the bus, and we began our 7 hour journey to Brussels on the bus with no bathroom. We did stop for a 45 minute break in Bastogne, Belgium… but that was already like 4+ hours into the trip.. AH! Also, we had to pay .40 euros to use the WC, and the woman working the bathroom was playing that “Kissed a Girl” Katie Perry song on a little radio. So random! The stop was also another USA memorial which was actually pretty cool to see. (Although, we drove through the cute town of Bastogne through all the nice shops and PLACES WITH FOOD to the isolated memorial where I ended up buying a big bag of sour gummy bears to hold me over until we could get real food. I wish we could have stopped in the town, but there aren’t many places to park large tour buses in tiny europe towns).

The Memorial in Bastogne

The Memorial in Bastogne

I think we made it to the hotel somewhere around 8ish, quickly unloaded our belongings and headed to the City Center for our food. Super nice hotel, slightly not so nice walk down to the city center… when you’re starving and it’s late at night and you are walking through a kind of run down neighborhood in a foreign country and sticking out like a sore thumb… kind of adds to the creepiness. But we made it and the city center was very cool. There was a big festival going on so it was packed down there. Alexander and I found a cute (and very expensive) place for dinner. I was so exhausted and so hungry, and when I opened the menu and saw the prices after we’d already got our drinks hot tears started running down my face. I had been looking at all the menus as we walked down the street trying to find a cheap place and we ended up at the most expensive one. However, the food ended up being good, and it was a nice, relaxing dinner so I managed to suck up my tears and feel ok about it 🙂

Next we ran into some fellow students and went on an adventure to find this famous statue which is basically a little boy peeing. Apparently, the original statue in the 1600s got smashed, and the guy who smashed it went to jail for LIFE. Can you imagine? “Yeah.. I killed a bunch of people.” “Yeah… I smashed a statue of a little boy peeing.” Seeing it was like seeing the Mona Lisa… it’s this tiny little unassuming thing that if you just saw it and didn’t know it was famous, you’d probably just walk on by.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

After that, I think we got waffles from a stand (amazing!), some Leonidas chocolates (because they are a lot cheaper in Belgium- where they are actually from- than in Santa Monica), and headed back to the hotel.

That’s the end of Day 4!

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Day 3- Strasbourg.

When I woke up the morning of Day 3, I actually woke up on time because my alarm actually went off at the appropriate moment. “Time to get up! The time is.. 6:30.” I love getting awoken by a voice alarm rather than a loud, disturbing beep!

I packed up and had another delicious breakfast in our Luxembourg hotel, and braced myself for the freezing cold wait on the street corner because surprise, surprise… at 7:58, when we were supposed to be leaving at 8:00, less than 10 people were in the lobby. However, Dean Gash printed off a list of the next 5 trains to Strasbourg and went over to warn everyone that they were getting left behind if they didn’t get outside promptly, and miraculously everyone started trailing outside. We were on the road to Strasbourg by 8:30. A lot of the countryside between Luxembourg and Strasbourg actually looked a lot like driving in the Northwest or maybe even parts of the east coast. It was only when we passed small towns and the buildings were obviously a lot older than anything in the States that I would remember we weren’t in the USA.

A Little French Countryside

A Little French Countryside

Amazingly Huge Grapes from Luxembourg

Amazingly Huge Grapes from Luxembourg

Our first stop in Strasbourg was the Human Rights court. Everyone was exhausted from getting up so early and the long bus ride, and again it was warm in the room, so we were all fighting to stay awake while a lawyer from Turkey tried to explain the Human Rights court system. I found the talk very interesting but it was definitely a struggle keeping my eyes open. I’m sure it was the vending machine coffee for .50 euros (which was DELICIOUS!) that kept me going! Honestly, my favorite part of this stop was the cheap vending machine coffee and the photo op with a chunk of the Berlin Wall outside the building.

Human Rights Court

Human Rights Court

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

Then we were off to our hotel and free until dinner. I had a really cute room with (dangerously low hanging) wood beams overlooking the street. If I leaned out my window I could see the Cathedral. Alexander and I quickly left to go try to find a crepe for me (I really wanted one with chicken and tomatoes and cheese like I’d had in Paris) but sadly the one place that gave us hope was closed until dinner by the time we got there. Ultimately, I bought what I thought was a chicken panini that turned out to be a 3 cheese panini. One of the cheeses looked a lot like chicken! It was still tasty, but I was really craving chicken!

The View

The View

Then we met up with Adam and Krissi, and Dean Gash and his family, at the Cathedral and found out you could pay 2.30 Euros if you were a student to go to the top. 325 tight, winding steps later… We were at the top with the best view of Strasbourg. It was absolutely amazing, but we all got super dizzy walking down. I really expected my legs to be super sore at some point after that, but it’s been several days now and I still haven’t felt any soreness.

Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg

For all of the pics I took inside and on top of the Cathedral, click here.

After that we basically walked around the town with Adam and Krissi for the rest of the afternoon. I saw a giraffe bowl inside a coffee shop and went in and bought it on a spur of the moment thing, and inside this man was holding the cutest little puppy I’ve ever seen– a little miniature something, I couldn’t understand the breed in French, but his name was Charlie which made him even cuter. The owner let me hold him and I did not want to give him back afterwards. When we had to leave I said “I feel like the love of my life just walked away” and Alexander was like “It’s ok, I know I can’t compete with that.” Haha.

Charlie! 3

Charlie! ❤

We had dinner in a restaurant that looked like a cave and served “Alsace-style” food (Alsace is the region of France where Strasbourg is). It consisted of “Alsace Onion Pie” and salad, then what looked like a ripped in half chicken with some pasta, and then what looked like a tarte flambee with some kind of cooked fruit on top (I didn’t taste it, but it was either apples or pears). If you know me at all, you probably know that (1) I can’t handle meat that still looks like an animal on my plate (this has nothing to do with me feeling bad about eating animals), and (2) I don’t like cooked fruit in desserts. So, not my favorite meal, but the restaurant and atmosphere were cool and many people liked the food so it was all good 🙂

After dinner, we ended wandering around trying to find a dessert place, ending up in a slightly sketchy area, and then returning from the area we originally came from and just getting some ice cream at a pizza place. A lot of people were going out after that, but I decided to just go back to my room and sleep because it was already pretty late by then, and I like sleep!

Days 4 and 5 to come later!