EasyJet flew us from Copenhagen to Basel without much drama. That came much later when they flew us to Pisa.
Basel airport, codenamed MLH, is shared by 3 countries– France, Germany and Switzerland– each with its own exit point. Renting a car via French desk was cheaper than via German or Swiss even though the agencies locates just a few feet apart. Hertz attendant was pleasant and we were on our way quickly. No sale pressure on additional insurance. We christened our Hertz’s Ford Fiesta “Automm” and drove north to Strasbourg toward our Airbnb on Rue Des Roses. Our trusty Garmin GPS and Google maps guided us through the toll free uncrowded highways with peekaboo views of the vineyards. Parking was rare near city and maneuvering into the tiny parking spot in the basement forced us to exit via the hatchback door!
First business as we settled was baguette hunting at a nearby boulangerie called Matter and grocery shopping for our meals at Monoprix. D refrained from the usual hoarding of chocolate bars, but wrangled an armload of Lu cookies, baguettes and butter! We balanced those indulgence with healthful stuffs in our shopping cart. Soup legumes, salad and sardines in onion with lemon vinaigrette and bread with French butter were on the menu next few days. Simple and delicious! Tomatoes were sweet and lettuce flavorful. And the chicken! Not super-sized, no fatty striations, unsurprisingly flavorful. Even the butter tasted different. Cooking was joyful when the food delights you . Plan for seeing Strasbourg at night were delayed to next day due to full-stomached induced sleepiness.
After breakfast, we boarded the bus for centre ville Strasbourg aiming to visit the market. N wished to see how the locals live and what better way than seeing them socialize and do their daily market. Unfortunately, this market was tiny and in the tourist central with mostly souvenir shops. Then it discovered that the camera’s battery was left behind at the apartment so a mad dash back on the bus ensued. In stuttering French, we asked to be let off at Mulhouse (“mool house”) bus top when it should be pronounced “Mool-loose.” Mistake fixed, camera loaded and off we went to Strasbourg cathedral.
What grand architecture ! It looms over the city and its spires can be seen far away. Off-season smaller crowd meant we didn’t wait long to enter the interior and see the astronomical clock then ascend up the tower for panoramic view of Strasbourg. We made it a point to climb as many tower for views as possible this vacation. Needless to say, the men voted down this initiative.
Stairs going up was quite narrow and somewhat claustrophobic. From the top, we got a commanding view of Strasbourg’s major landmarks. A security guard wandered among the crowd. A group of French school kids got lectured on Gothic architecture. We eavesdropped and listened to the melodic French conversation. We wandered from the cathedral through the winding streets toward Petite-France then Barrage Vauban.
Pretty half timbered homes with colorful stucco walls and windows adorned with bright flowers beckoned us but old legs needed nourishment. We dined at La Corde à Linge restaurant by the canal and tasted the Alsatian specialty of choucroute. Also tried Alsace Riesling which is dry not sweet. Duck legs were tender. Salmon was perfectly moist. Hubby enjoyed his burger and N her chicken.
Walking off our full belly toward the bus, we spotted the old bakery Christian Salon de Thé and sampled kougelhopf…which tasted reminiscent of Italian panettone. We leisurely sipped espressos and munched away as the cathedral’s bells chimed.
Happy that we checked off all the tourist things to-do, we proceeded to Monoprix for dinner fixings.