Saturday, March 28th 2015
The main business of today is returning to London. Our tickets are for the TGV leaving Strasbourg Station at 10:46 and so, though we do not need to hurry, there is little time to do any sightseeing.
We found a cafe for breakfast and then went to the station where we could leave our bags in a locker. Then we jumped on a tram to see where it would take us and how long we dared stay aboard until nervousness about missing the train caused us to return!
The tipping point came when the tram stopped on the bridge that carries Avenue de la Marseillaise across the Ill. I don’t know whether this road bridge has a name because I haven’t been able to find one. While waiting for a tram back in the opposite direction, we took a couple of photographs. Above is a general scene along the river.
This photo shows the prettily sited Church of Saint Paul which stands on a headland where the river divides, meaning that the church is clearly visible and not obstructed by buildings around it. In front of it is a bridge called the Pont d’Auvergne but that adds to the view rather than detracting from it.
If this were Britain, we could say that this was a Victorian church. It was, after all, built between 1892 and 1897 in the standard Victorian neo-Gothic style. But this is Strasbourg, where history took a different course. This church was raised during the period known as L’Annexion, when Alsace-Lorraine were taken back into the German fold. This might also explain why such a splendid church is Protestant and not Catholic, as you might expect.
Reluctantly, we took the next tram back to the station, reclaimed our bags and sought our train. The journey to Paris was uneventful and we disembarked at the Gare de l’Est. Travel may broaden the mind, it also seems to stimulate the appetite and by the time we reached Paris, breakfast was long forgotten so, as soon as we left the Gare de l’Est, we looked around for somewhere where we could have lunch.
We found a suitable menu at the Bistro Lorrain and had an enjoyable lunch before walking the rest of the way to the Gare du Nord and the Eurostar. We duly found our train, climbed aboard, stowed our bags and settled down for what we hoped would be a speedy and trouble-free passage to London. And it was, though a surprise awaited us.
You may recall me recounting that on leaving London aboard the Eurostar we, as Standard Premier ticket holders, had been served breakfast, despite our having already breakfasted on the station. Now, you would have thought that we had learnt the lesson but apparently we had not. We had lunched between trains as I mentioned above but now, barely had the Eurostar got under way when they came along and – yes, you’ve guessed – served us lunch! We could have saved the expense of the meal at the Bistro Lorrain but I don’t regret it. Let’s just hope we remember for next time.
Soon the Eurostar was pulling into St Pancras and the announcer was admonishing us, in French and English, to take all our personal belongings with us. As the crow flies (assuming a crow can fly through brick and stone walls) the distance from the train to the street is only a few yards but disembarking Eurostar travellers are sent on a long journey down escalators and along passages and through doors until they at last emerge into the noise and bustle of the main concourse. We shouldered our bags and walked down the road to King’s Cross Station and the bus stop. In a very few minutes we were at home and the kettle was boiling water for tea.
Our trip to Strasbourg went well and I enjoyed seeing the city again. I had not been back for some years, though, and had therefore seen it almost as I would a place I had not visited before. We only scratched the surface of Strasbourg, of course, because you cannot see the whole of a city of that size, let alone come to feel that you know it, after three days. Perhaps we shall return one of these days and when we do, there will still be new things to see and do.
Tomorrow I am off to Chingford to fetch Freya home and make the family complete once more.