we finally have a free weekend, so we decided to jump in the car yesterday and head to Strasbourg, France ... word is they have a great Christmas market ... so we got up early (by our standards) and were on the road by 9 ... 2 hours later we were in Strasbourg.
Strasbourg is in the Alsace region of France ... an area that has fallen under German & French rule a number of times throughout history ... given that, its no surprize that the area has both a German & French feel ... you will see half-timber houses all over, but can't walk a block without seeing a crepe stand.
we have had a chance to drive all over Europe ... from Italy and Portugal to Ireland & Slovenia ... i have to say that French drivers are some of the worst ... it can complete chaos on those tiny roads in the middle of town ... a complete free-for-all. we get into Strasbourg and we suddenly felt that we made a bad decision ... gridlock! we eventually make it to a garage near the city center which luckily had free spaces ... or so we thought. we get into the garage and the only thing we find is clueless people driving in every which direction (but the right one) searching for spots that don't exist ... we did the same for 30 minutes and just had to leave. first time i have ever paid $2 bucks not to park. i wish we knew enough French to be able to bitch someone out.
so it was out into traffic again ... eventually find another parking garage and -- again -- it had availability. i wasn't getting my hopes up, but we entered anyway. this was a complete disaster ... get this ... there was one lane for both directions of traffic ... 7 small levels of parking with one lane to accomodate people coming & going!! it was frustrating to the point of hilarity ... people were stuck coming up and going down, trying to turn around, trying to do anything. we eventually made it up to level 7 ... it was time for a drink
beyond the driving/parking situation, we had a great time wandering the town and checking out the market ... it was pretty mild, as it has been across all of Europe in December ... reached 10C or 50F. there were lots of craft & food stands ... all centered around the beautiful gothic cathedral. the town is especially beautiful because it has a series of canals running through it
each year, Strasbourg features a section of the market dedicated to the crafts & food of another European country ... this year Romania had its own section of the market ... it was cool checking out what they had to sell ... lots of wooden crafts and some great food...
it was a great day ... got a few gifts and things for us ... started to get rainy, so we headed home ... ... luckily we had no problem leaving the garage ... woo hoo!