A Travellerspoint blog

May 2009

München, Schloss Neuschwanstein, New Swan palace

sunny 22 °C

This trip to Munich was really special as it was full of so many firsts and fun times for me. This European journey has opened my eyes in so many ways and broaden my perspective on life and I think Munich was a big part of my learning.

That morning, I left the hbf really early on the first train out of the city as I had a tour that I had to make that same morning in Munich. The trip was really quick, at two hrs and comfortable. Upon my arrival in Munich I noticed some marked differences (compared to Stuttgart) almost as soon as I stepped onto the tarmack. One of the most obvious was that this city is very multicultural! Stuttgart has its splattering of minorities here and there but it is nothing like Toronto for example. Neither was Munich but I noticed all sorts of people walking around, locals that is and tourists alike. Second was the food. In Stuttgart's surrounding areas, it is sometimes hard to find things like chicken wings or greek food or chinese food and such. But in Munich's main station, almost all of these foods were on display and ready for consumption. At 8am! I was jolted for a second as since I have been in Germany, I haven't craved any of these foods. The only thing I love and wanted badly was sushi but almost everyone I know here abhores sushi and there is only one place in Stuttgart platz that sells it, so I never go. Getting back to the point, I usually enjoy a chicken wing or two at home and I occasionally eat some chinese food but I have completely forgotten about such meals since landing.

Another thing that I noticed about Munich was its feel. Stuttgart is a big city but Munich makes it feel like an infant in terms of the vibrant and metropolitan feeling. For this mainly, I like Stuttgart better but that does not mean that I did not like Munich!

After getting out of the main station, I had to make a three minute walk to my hostel (according to the map instructions). Of course I got lost! I suck at maps. Well, not really lost but it took me about 10 minutes to find the hostel instead of the aforementioned three. :) After dumping my bag, I made my way back to the station where I checked in for my tour to.....Schloss Neuschwanstein. I was very excited to see this castle and it's gorgeous surroundings. Of course I was early, so I wandered around and had breakfast.

When it was time for the tour to start, we met our director, who was really nice, informative and helpful. I can't remember her name but she was born and raised in München. I had immediately noticed another single girl on the trip but before I could start talking to her, she had drifted off and was chatting with other people. At this point, I decided to just listen to the instuctor on what we were to do instead of trying to make friends....at least for now.

Scenes on the way
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 003


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 006


The trip to Füssen, where the schloss is located, was supposed to comprise of one train ride (two hours) and then one bus trip (10 minutes) to the grounds but this trip had multiple steps. The day before, there was some sort of protest (Germans LOVE to protest causes) or attempted suicide on the tracks so we had to take two trains and two buses to the castle grounds.
On the way
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 007


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 012


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 014


I gotta tell you, it was all very comfortable and extremely hassle free considering all this. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the train rides. The most stress I had all day was speed walking to the first bus so I could get a good seat. In the end, all seats were good. I highly, highly recommend people to take this tour and pay the little extra for a guided tour. Your stress levels will be nil.

At the grounds, the castle sits on a mountain, near Hohenschwangau, we were given half hour to get something to eat. I walked around a bit but was not really interested in food. I wanted to see the castle, which is translated to New Swan Stone palace by the way. No Germans I know understand the rationale behind this. In any case, I made my way to a small kiosk because I saw many of the members from my group hanging outside eating sausages and such. When I got in, I noticed that this place sold......HOT DOGS. I looked around anxiously as I have yet to see a normal looking hot dog in the south and I was skeptical of the Bavarian version. Sure enough, it was a real, North American frank. I ordered one quickly and looked around for a place to sit. That is when I noticed the single girl from this morning. I sat at her table where we immediately started chatting.
Hohenschwangau Castle, King Ludwig II childhood home
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 015

The girl in questions name is Andreas, a student from New York who was born in Peru. Cool! She is super bright and speaks fluent english, spanish, german and chinese. I was like, who are you? We got along great from start to finish and you will hear about Andreas in another blog post to come.
Some of the grounds
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 018


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 024


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 027


At this point we stuck to each other like glue and had a fantastic time at the castle. We had a choice of hiking/walking up the mountain side to the schloss or taking a horse and carriage. Now, neither one of us had ever been on a horse and carriage so we decided we must do it here. The fee was minimal, at euro 6,00 per person, and was so worth it. While we were waiting in line we met two girls from Vancouver, Canada who we hung out with for the remainder of the time. I can't remember their names but they were also very nice to chill with.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 023


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 029


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 034


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 035


After the horse and carriage (where the horses farted a lot!), we did a small hike to the castle grounds and joined the rest of the group for the tour.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 038


Neuschwanstein is HUGE but unfortunately incomplete. There is a huge mystery around the original owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, life or lifestyle, and his very early death. I personally think he hated being king (this was not a secret to the Bavarians) and was homosexual. And, he was obviously murdered but by who.....no one seems to know. If you have the time, read up on his story. It is extremely interesting and engrossing.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 031


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 032


We got to look around at the rooms that were completed but unfortunately pictures were not allowed. I did manage to take a few but still....I didn't want to be too bad. This time. :)
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 040


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 041


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 042


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 044


Munich May 15 09 wknd 045

Munich May 15 09 wknd 045


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 048


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 049


Of course before you can get out of the castle, you have to pass through the gift shop. All of us girls decided to make our way up to Marienbrücke, a bridge close to the schloss, for some panoramic views. At this point, Andreas and I had approx 40 minutes to get back down the hill to the bus so we booked it quick! The hike usually takes about 15 minutes but we made it six.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 054


This bridge is not the most sturdiest looking thing and swings slightly back and forth. Yeah, and it is high!!! At first, I was scared to walk on it but I sucked it up and stepped on it and after about two minutes I forgot that I was on a swinging bridge that was over jagged rocks and rushing water and enjoyed taking pictures.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 067


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 074

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Munich May 15 09 wknd 084


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 079


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 085

We spent a good 15 minutes on the bridge, taking pictures together and of each other. When the two other girls from Vancouver caught up, we spent some bridge time with them also.

After all the fun and games Andreas and I realized we had less than 20 minutes to trek all the way down the moutain and make it to the bus on time. We flew down that hillside, chatting, laughing and taking pictures all the way. Speed walking all the way of course.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 087


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 088


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 098


On the train back to Munich
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 103

After we arrived back in the city, we agreed to spend the rest of the evening together (the trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein is apprx 8 hours in total). Since Andreas was in the city a few days before me, she had taken a tour and knew a bit of the hot spots. We made our way to Marienplatz, Munich's city square, for the night. We took a detoured route and chatted some more.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 119


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 125


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 113


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 110


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 112


Finally, we made it to our intended destination, the HofBräuhaus.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 130


I have never in my entire life been in such a cool environment like what I was part of in this haus. Picture tavern like setting, relaxed locals, chilled out tourists, food and lots and lots of beer served in steins! It was almost magical, it was that surreal.

Andreas and I sat at a table at first (oh, you just sit wherever you can get a seat with whoever is at the table) with three guys but they were already drunk and asking stupid sexual questions, so we booked it and found another bench. Good thing too as we met some super cool people and had a great night. At this table we met a very pretty couple from Deutschland. Hamburg and Munich, I think. We started chatting with them immediately and started off the night right.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 131


During conversation, we ordered food. I ordered typical Bavarian food which consisted of a thin slice of beef, and boiled potatoes in a veggy broth.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 133


Andreas ordered Bavarian Weißwurst which is served (almost exclusively) with a warm, chewy pretzel and sweet mustard. My food was good but I wish I had the wurst instead.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 132


In any case, there was enough beer to quench all appetites and throats.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 136


Just a little note on the love of beer in Munich. Our tour director told us that beer is not consumed as a social thing in Bavaria. Bier and biergärtens (beer gardens) are a way of life for Bavarians which they take very seriously. I thought that was a powerful statement.

During the night, a couple from Australia sat at our table and we did many rounds of Prost (cheers in German but only for beer)!! After they left for a night time tour, a couple from Austria, who came up for the day, sat at the table.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 137


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 139


Once again, we were prosting up, down and sideways. After the handsome Deutsch couple left, some guys from Lithuania and L.A. sat with us. Also, some guys from Chicago were right next to us who joined in the fun. More PROST, PROST, PROST! All night long.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 149


some crazy guys at a table across from us who were also having a very FUN night
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 154


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 152


Munich May 15 09 wknd 153

Munich May 15 09 wknd 153


I love this pic
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 141


My throat was sore but who cares, Prost! We said Prost for everything and NOTHING! It was all about stein smashing and beir drinking. What a night.
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Munich May 15 09 wknd 142


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Munich May 15 09 wknd 144


We eventually left, who remembers what time, where I retired to my hostel and Andreas to her friends place. We exchanged details and promised to meet up in another city in weeks to come. I have to say again, this was a wonderul experience and Munich will always be remembered for King Ludwigs cool schloss, amazing people and PROST!
Munich May 15 09 wknd 156

Munich May 15 09 wknd 156

Posted by CanaGerm 18:53 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

European women

overcast 20 °C

I met this girl, Tiffany, when I was in München a few weekends ago over. We were both single girls at the hostel alone so I asked if I could sit with her. We ended up sharing a meal and having a conversation over the hostel breakfast. Our talks varied and eventually settled on Europeans and mainly German and Parisian women, and how they maintain such pretty figures while guzzling pints of beer, food laden with creamy sauces and wine...oh, the wine consumption! While I told her that skinny is not really a big trend here in Germany, the south at least, and healthy normal size is the norm, she pointed out that in Paris, France a majority of the women are skinny and she was puzzled on how they keep their girlish figure.

Tiffany is a student from Tennessee who is in Paris stuying for a year. She had been in Paris about 8 months now and was still scratching her head over it. When I suggested that Parisians walk a lot and everywhere, she came back with a renounded, "that can't be it!". You see, according to her, she walks everywhere also since she arrived in Paris but instead of losing weight, she feels she has gained! She pointed out that lunch and dinner are consumed with great glee and for long stretches of time (especially dinner). The meals are apparently plentiful, multi-coursed and heavy! When I laughed, thinking she was joking, she seriously told me that rich sauces are served on top of meats, pastas, rice, anything! Salad's are not typically "lite" and have lots of yummy ingredients on top of lettuce leaves. Bread is abundant and plentiful. Desserts....apparently divine, sweet and fattening!

So, how do French women stay thin if they consume all this food, walk like everyone else in the city and still not gain weight? How do my collegues and most of the German women I see here (NOT ALL though) stay beautifully curvaceous (a huge norm) and sexy (but overall not slim or skinny), walk, I would think the same or even less than me since I have no car here, drink all that beer, eat those heavy meals (at lunch and sometimes at dinner!) and still look damn good?

Tiffany and I concluded that it must be genes. It has to be. There just did not seem to be any other other viable conclusion after swinging it around our heads a few times. I don't see that many more people jogging or working out here than at home so it is not a matter of exercise.

Whatever it is, they are damn lucky, for the most part, not having to worry about such things as diet and gym passes.

Posted by CanaGerm 08:00 Archived in Germany Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

Belle Strasbough, france, deux jours

sunny 20 °C

fr-67-st.gif <--Strasbourg's coat of arms

Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 156

Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 156


Today was my last day in Strasbough and my main focus was La Petite France.
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 181


After getting up, eating the hotel breakfast, getting ready and checking out, I headed to one of the cities more popular tourist sites. As it was still early and nothing was really open, I had a great time taking photos and generally enjoying the scenery. Loved it!
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 161


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 164


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 167


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 188


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 191


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 214


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 195


During my explorations, I was casually looking into the window of a cookie shop and the owner came out and gave me a coconut macaroon! So sweet. And, delicious!
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 204


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 177


At lunch I had to choose between real Alsacian cuisine or cheap. I chose cheap for now. I went to an Asian resturant and enjoyed a simple, solitary meal, al fresco all the way. I cracked open my book and enjoyed my meal. I chose this restaurant as it was off the tourist strip, therefore more afforbable, and the noise level was lower. At that time of day, the city was humming and this restaurant was tucked away all cozy-like which was bliss for me.
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 221


After lunch it was more walking around but I had seen all I wanted to see (minus the Parc de l'Orangerie which was just too far away and not good for my short visit) so although my train didn't leave for a few hours, I headed to the train station eary. I stopped by the hotel, got my backpack and headed off. I inquired about catching an earlier train but I had just missed it by 5 minutes. Damn it! So, I hung around until it was time to leave. Thank goodness I still had a bit of my book left to read.
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 171


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 210


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 208


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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 198

Oh, McCafe with your McDonald's anyone?
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Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 223


Classic!
When the train came and I boarded, I was so happy to be going back to Stuttgart. I settled in and started to read my newest novel as I finished the other one while waiting at the train station. By the time I got to the hbf and then Kornwestheim and to the hotel, it was around 6pm. I called home as it was Mothers Day and chatted with the fam. Another adventurous weekend closed. Then end.
Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 184

Strasbourgh, Fr May 9-10 09 184

Posted by CanaGerm 08:00 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Belle Strasbourg, France, le premier jour.....

sunny 31 °C

My first time on the super fast TGV was as I anticipated. I expected the train to be comfortable, roomy and jet-like fast. My expectations were met and exceeded on all three accounts. This TGV left the hbf at 7:30am three Saturday mornings ago and arrived in Strasbourg 1,5hrs later. Once I arrived in France, I searched for my hotel. The first thing I noticed was how clean Strasbourg was. The second was how European! I was really happy to be here but skeptical at the same time. I didn't want to get too excited only to be let down.
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After walking around and finding my cheap hotel, I dropped off my backpack and headed out immediately. I had no time to waste on this short two-day adventure. I went to the Tourist Information place, got a map and took off.
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My first mission was finding the boat cruise on the River Ille. Second on the list was the Strasbourg Cathedral. I have to tell you, this was the hardest city to navigate yet! I am sure it was just me as I am horrible with maps but I found it almost impossible to get around using the supplied map. After getting lost about a billion times, but taking care of certain sites as markers, I used memory to guide me along.
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Finally, I relented and asked a man to help me find the Cathedral. We ended up walking together to the city square and chatted a bit. He told me he was originally from Paris but came to Strasbourg for his job 17 years ago. It was nice talking to someone who was receptive and open.
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Once at the old town square, I was able to see the Cathedral looming ahead very easily. I had no time to waste. I quickly made my way to the building and went ballistic with my camera. Such a pretty, impressive, gothic site.
Strasbourg.._09_035.jpg --Strasboug Cathedral
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I eventurally went inside and soaked up the atmoshphere.
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Some pics in the market square, Place du Marché aux Cochons de Lait. (Marktplatz as Strasboug is VERY Germanic. It lies on the border of Germany (near Kehl) so French and German is acceptable here)
Strasbourg.._09_040.jpg <--the infamous Maison Kammerzell. A well preserved Gothic relic of important France/German history.
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Next was a cruise along the Ille. I had an hour to wait for the next open air boat so I took advantage of this and got a snack. I was starving but I wanted to wait to eat out of the city square, ie, tourist trap. So, I got a sweet instead. Since landing here, I have been bombarded with crepes. There are little kiosks that sell them all over Stuttgart and other places I have been in Germany but I always resist, wanting to eat the real thing....from France. Finally, I was able to sink my teeth into this delicacy. Of course I had the Nutella crepe. Oh...my.....fantastic! I think I closed my eyes in bliss a few times while eating the crepe...it was that damn good. All warm and gooy and chocolatey.
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Before I got on the boat, there were some....street vendors that were the epitome of annoying! Trying to sell tourists their stuff. I mean, everyone's gotta make a living and eat right? But, when someone says no, they mean no! At least for me. I had to put on my unimpressed face to get one particular guy away from me. When that didn't work, I had to be rude and turn my back on him. I felt bad but damn......can't a woman enjoy her crepe in peace?
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The cruise along the river was relaxing if a bit warm. It was brutally hot that weekend in Strasboug, so my head was baking by the time we were half way through the tour. It was really fun and informative despite the heat.
Strasbourg.._09_012.jpg --Ill River
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Strasbourg.._09_138.jpg <--arte. The biggest television broadcast media centre that supplies France, Deutschland and other EU countries. Huge force in European tv.
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After the cruise down the Ille, I wanted to see more.
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Strasbourg.._09_120.jpg --Ponts Couverts bridge
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It was around 3pm so I had a lot of time left of the day. I decided to do a museum and broaden my cultural awareness. Big mistake. I went to the Musée Alsacien and HATED it almost immediately. I was so not interested in anything in there. The museum depicts the early life of the Alsace peoples which usually interests me as I love history but this place....was just lame.
Strasbourg.._09_145.jpg <--inside the Alsacien
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I have to tell you that after about 10 minutes I was searching for the exit and hard. I had to get out! Of course you have to tour the entire place in order to get out. At certain times I was so desperate for the exit that I felt tears spring to my eyes. I felt trapped in a world I was not interested in and just wanted to escape. It was horrible. Finally, when I saw, sortie (exit) I ran the hell out. It was like I was finally able to breathe again. Waste of my damn 5,00 euros.

After that museum hell, I needed a break. The sun was scorching, the temperature was super high and even though I was in one of the worlds most romantic countries, and I needed a time out. I found a bench in some park (I don't know the name) where I sat for about 10 minutes trying to decide what was next.

As I sat and rested, I reflected on Strasbourg so far.
-Fresh bread shops, open early. Lots of super fresh loaves, buns, Alsace Kougelhopf cake line the shelves.
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-Men in white clothing walking down the street with big bushles of fresh french bread, out for delivery. I assume they are delivering to places like restaurants and hotels.
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-Gorgeous chocolates on display. Bonbon shops. The sweets are a work of art themselves as they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. So pretty as they beckon tourists and locals alike.
-Beautiful, clean cobblestoned streets.
-Narrow, romantic alleyways. Elegance.
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-And the clothes!!! French people, for the most part, know how to dress!! Everyone takes the time to dress and look their absolute best. I admired that pride.
-Fashion is France.

After my break, I explored some of the city some more. I took off out of the well known touristy areas and ventured more into the city, where the real Alsace was happening. I have to say that the city Strasbourg is just as pretty as its sister, old town.

I found myself in the old town again but this time at a street market. It reminded me of Kensington Market in Toronto, minus the fishy smell of fresh fish.
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At around 7pm, I took off to check in at the hotel, where the guy who manned the reception acted very indifferent when he realized I couldn't speak fluent French. Damn, at least I tried! I guess it was a combination of the early morning travel, early mornings at work, working, going out at night and the hot sun, but I was exhausted at this point. All I wanted was bed but I decided to eat first. I was starving. Nope, I forgot to eat an official lunch after my gorgeous Nutella slicked crepe.

After walking around the hotel neighborhood for a good half hour, I settled at a Turkish place to eat. Sorry, but I will leave the real French cuisine for another time. I ordered verte peppersteak with frites for my dinner. It was great. The owner was so friendly and we chatted a bit as I ate. She eventually left me to it and I devoured my food while reading my latest book. After supper it was getting dark and I was too tired for more exploration so I took my weary body to a convenience store to buy water and then headed to the hotel. I tried to read but it was too much work so I just closed my eyes and let the sleep fairy take over (remember....Meet the Parents...:) ).

Posted by CanaGerm 08:00 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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