I loved this French city where we spent the second half of our core course week, both the old-town charm and the new development initiatives. For part one and my time in Frankfurt, check out my last post.
Our train from Frankfurt reached Strasbourg’s central station early Tuesday afternoon. Our first stop was the European Science Foundation, and a presentation on how the organization facilitates the transfer of knowledge across the continent. Tuesday evening I had my first french dinner, delicious beef and wine. Our group split a traditional Alsatian Tarte Flambeé, thinly-rolled bread dough baked and topped with crème fraîche and ham. Originating from peasants seeking a quick meal, this crisp and savory flatbread satisfied my long-standing pizza craving (still haven’t found a European substitute for those New York slices).
Wednesday featured a wine tasting at a local vineyard in the Alsatian countryside. The region is world-renowned for its white wines, and we got to learn the special nuances from a 3rd-generation Vigneron, or winemaker. He shared his personal story and the subtleties of each of the 11 glasses we sampled, and it was a lovely afternoon. Our van ride back to Strasbourg passed through winding country roads between the vineyards, and in the soft-early evening light the vines and fall colors were absolutely stunning.
Thursday night we ate at a beautiful restaurant in a 16th-century building- Over 500 years old! Choucroute is an Alsatian cooking method combining saurkaut with sausages and potatoes (sound familiar? That’s because for many years Strasbourg was under German control, and the city is a mix of both cultures) Of course, I order the saurkraut.
The building interior was as incredible as the food, and we celebrated our last night with creme brulee! I can’t even begin to explain how nice of a dinner this was, and it was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Friday morning we met with the local economic development council, my favorite academic trip of the week. We learned how the city is embracing new carbon-neutral buildings and developing into a European intellectual and business hub while preserving its unique blend of French and German cultures.
Strasbourg is definitely on my return trip list (along with Amsterdam) as there really is so much to discover in this city. What surprised me most about Strasbourg is how much there was to do in a city I had never heard of before this semester. Strasbourg is home to a host of fascinating and innovative organizations, beautifully preserved architecture, tasty food, and picturesque streets. Along with Gothenburg, the city showed me how much of Europe there is to explore beyond what I see read about online. And I will certainly be coming back, though it won’t be with my great group of classmates that I got to share this week with travelling. But rest assured, they will feature in more blog posts this semester. This week really opened me to the possibilities that usually go underappreciated, and how smaller cities can be just as wonderful to explore as major urban areas. Some parting pictures before I sign off.
Adventures in Stockholm, specifics TBD, but stay tuned for an early sunset pic (5:30pm at the latest, winter is coming!)
Croissants and espresso! I couldn’t leave France without stopping in a cafe for this pairing. The fluffy, buttery croissant and powerfully rich espresso were a perfect combination. It’s no Swedish fika with cinnamon buns, but the French style is delicious in its own right.