Can you believe I was in Strasbourg for a week, took along my DSLR, and only took photos with my old Samsung J5 phone?! I regret it immensely… The adorable buildings, the canals surrounded by nature, the delicious food…all not done justice, so you will have to go yourself.
To be fair, I was there for work so only got a little sightseeing done. But, wow, Strasbourg is beautiful. I felt like I had stumbled into Beauty and the Beast, and was expecting people to burst into song any minute. There were plenty of buskers outside the cathedral, playing classical, jazz, or even contemporary music on stringed instruments. If I hadn’t stepped into a Disney musical film, I certainly had stepped into a European arty film. It was hard to remind myself that I wasn’t there on holiday and couldn’t sit outside a cafe all day sipping cafe au lait…
It is the perfect city for a cute getaway (as are most popular European cities in all honesty): you can walk pretty much anywhere (even the European Parliament was only half an hour walk from the centre). Grand Ile is the historical centre, and a UNESCO world heritage site, which boasts the amazing cathedral, and winding, medieval streets to get lost in. It is a place to truly appreciate Western European culture – and by that I mean relaxing outside with wine or beer, chatting and laughing with people as the sun slowly sets.
Strasbourg is so close to Germany (and in fact has belonged to Germany in the past) that it is clearly influenced by both French and German culture, architecture, and cuisine. For a traditional meal – I ate at D’Heimliche Stub, and chose tarte flambée, also known as flammekueche – which is a typical Alsatian dish (the region is Alsace). It is dough rolled out flat into a rectangle shape, and topped with creme fraiche, and in my case asparagus and serrano ham. Different to a pizza, but just as good.
I also ate at Harmonie Bowl and Juice which if you like vegan Asian food, or even if you don’t, you must go. The staff were wonderful to say we ordered 15 minutes before closing time, and even gave us free homemade banana bread because we enjoyed our Buddha bowls so much!
Another vegan place (I work with the Greens: we cut back our meat and dairy intake), is L’Eden Sans Gluten – I had paella which admittedly was more like vegetable rice, but still tasty. It was also close to a vegan bakery from which I bought a brownie (as someone who is not so keen on vegan cakes – this brownie was just as good and as rich as a non-vegan brownie).
Whilst the Strasbourg centre is a picturesque, Disney-style setting; Strasbourg is also famous for being home to European institutions – including one of the EU Parliaments. Once a month, every MEP and staff member travel from Brussels to Strasbourg as it is where all the votes must take place in plenary. It sounds daft, but it is to symbolise the pan-European nature of the EU (and the French object to it’s removal). As a trainee, we get to go once during our traineeship to see what takes place. So, I got to run around watching press conferences, posting to social media, sneaking photos in plenary, and getting totally lost in the maze that is the building.
Also with work I attended European Youth Event and YO!Fest – two parallel festivals which gather 8,000 young people across Europe to share ideas and learn how to actively engage with politics to make sure the future is ours. Although a storm nearly cancelled YO!Fest, the organisers did an amazing job at pulling through.
I ended my last night drinking and chatting in a park (and later dancing in a bar), as mosquitoes absolutely ravaged my back and now I can’t sit still or sleep through a night without the itching torturing me. My coach back to Brussels was also super delayed, and so finished an intense and crazy week bonding with other attendees over Brussels and unreliable coaches. All worth it.