At the crack of noon (we’re on holiday), Monday, July 13, it was a quick trip from Karlsruhe back to Kandel to pick up our charges, Delaney and Brett, and head to France. Destination for the next four days would be Nancy in France’s Alsace Lorraine region, with a short stop-off to see the cathedral and canals of Strasbourg.
Tuesday we helped the French celebrate Bastille Day. Place Stanislas with its incredible gilded gates and stately buildings was the focal point for the formal segment of the day’s activities. With the square decked out in French flags and bunting, squads of police and military troops were reviewed, the honorable were named and the requisite speeches were made. As the band played La Marseillaise–IMO the coolest anthem ever–a pair of Mirage jets made a quick pass overhead.
The kids spent a good chunk of the rest of the day checking out sales at H&M and Lacoste (for some reason the Euro versions are cooler than the US ones). Of course, no patriotic national celebration would be complete without fireworks and the Nancy show did not disappoint. Technology has added a lot to the art of pyrotechnic display.
Being in France, we had to do some fine French eating. Evening one brought quite good, but somewhat non-traditional fare in a kind of Americanized trendy joint with burgers, salads and steak tartare pairing nicely with a couple carafes of wine. Our last night in Nancy was Delaney’s 18th Birthday-eve and we celebrated, alfresco at Grand Café Foy in Place Stanislas. Balmy night, fab waiter, delightful wine, marvelous meal and D’s favorite; tap water.
Semi-interesting observation: Strasbourg is home to the Kronenbourg brewery. For whatever reason, I’ve always found it to be one of the toughest places on the Continent to get a Kronenbourg 1664. It’s kind of like not being to find a Miller in Milwaukee.
No fireworks for us–saving them for Bastille Day. Today it was back to Centraal and back on the train, this time to Utrecht to catch a bit of the prelim stage of the 2015 Tour de France and to visit our Gallant friend and Utrecht native Sophie.
More and more it seems Le Tour is generating less interest in its namesake county and more and more excitement in the non-French cities where the first couple of stages are typically held. Like England the year before, the crowds in Utrecht were enormous; could even get close to the circuit. As each rider zipped by you could catch maybe a quick glimpse of a helmet, followed by a team car, top loaded with bikes, but that was about it. The crowds were tough, but the pre-race ad caravan was in full silliness and it was really great to see Sophie.
Saturday night we shifted gears and went on a iPhone-played, Rick Steves Audio Tour of the Amsterdam area known as De Wallen, perhaps better known as The Red Light District. There really is a lot of rich history packed in this oldest part of town, and of course there are the various forms of commerce you just don’t find in too many other places. And not unlike Le Tour, the streets were PACKED with tourists.
De Wallen tour complete, the kids went for crepes, Laurel and I went for a beer in our fav local De Wallen dive bar. Trading Spotify suggestions with the bartender was a hoot. The kids beat us home, but we all missed the last tram. Just havin’ too much fun.
Travel day is travel day–long, tiring, a bit of a blur. Fly to Paris via Detroit; TGV/Thalys fast trains to Amsterdam (Amsterdam flights were really expensive); Thursday morphed into Friday. Anyway, the four of us made it. After 36 hours of being on the go, the fine Dutch beds felt pretty good.
Delta’s got better, both Domestic and International, than they used to be. Nice flights.
Via text while we were on the train, I found out our AMS landlord had changed apartments on us. We we’d book a spot just across the water from Centraal station, but due to “a problem” we’re staying in the Leidisplein area—lots of shops, museums, bars, stuff going on. The place is a little funky, but it’ll do.
Delaney voted our post-travel dinner as her favorite part of the day. I concur.
Should you have any interest, all the L&R pix (unedited) are available through the Image Library link in the menu bar above.
Two weeks from right now it’ll be getting close to time, after 30-some hours of traveling, to crawl into our fine Dutch beds. Plan is pretty much all in place with only a few tweak-changes to reservations, etc. and we’re getting very excited.