October 26, 2023
The fun, and the rain, continue. We are enjoying being onboard the Viking Freya, eating/drinking well and hanging out with family. Last night was the welcoming cocktail party on the ship, with the traditional champagne toasts. Did I mention the champagne was free? Woohoo!
This morning we woke up in Strasbourg, France, had a nice breakfast, and took a tour of the city. Over the last few days we had discussed what country Strasbourg was part of (Germany or France). Strasbourg is in the Alsace region of France, on the Rhine river, near the German border. As it turns our, Strasbourg has"belonged" to both those countries over its history and, therefore, blends the architecture and culture of the two countries.
Strasbourg was founded by Romans 2,000 years ago.
It became a French city in 1681 after the conquest of the region by Louis XIV.
In 1871, after the France-Prussian war, the city became a part of Germany.
In 1918, the city became a part of France again (end of WWI).
In 1940, after the defeat of France (WWII), it was annexed to Germany.
In 1944 (end of WW2), Strasbourg became a French city again.
This all led to the Alsace region currently being a French city with a strong German influence. Partially due to the many influences that are balanced in this region, it has become the location of the Council of Europe (European Parliament) and the European Science Foundation.
Famous people associated with Strasbourg include (in no particular order):
Marie Tussaud (wax museums)
Johannes Gutenberg (printing press)
Louis Pasteur (scientist)
Marcel Marceau (mime)
Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize)
Johann Wolfgang Goethe (writer)
Swans and Storks. The area along the Rhine River abounds with water fowl and other birds. The area is most famous for their storks. For many centuries white storks have been nesting and breeding in the Alsace area. They build very large nests in the trees that can weigh over 150 lbs. to raise their families. In the winter they migrate to South Africa (so we didn't see any). Storks mate for life and return to the same nest year after year. The faithfulness of the storks and the cycle of returning to raise chicks has led to stories about their connection to fertility and good luck. While storks were endangered in the 1970's, they have made a strong recovery, helped by steps taken by the Strasbourg community to support them and increase their numbers.
Kougelhopf. Of course we couldn't have a blog without a food or drink reference. In Strasbourg our tour guide got us samples of this wonderful pastry. This pastry can be spelled many ways, and baked with different flavors, and they are delicious!
The pastries originated at the time of the Magi. When the Magi stopped in the Alsace region, the residents made a pastry inspired by the shape of the turbans the Magi wore.
That's it for today. Next up is a safety drill, and then a yummy dinner with some new wines to try!