Well hello there! Today, I am here to share a chilly winter evening at the Strasbourg Christmas Market and a seemingly commonsense but nonetheless very important travel life lesson for you.
I am back from an ever-dramatic (ok, I’m being dramatic calling it dramatic) evening of being stuck in France. I also make this sound far away (Karlsruhe is on the border). But still, we were stranded I tell you!
But first, Strasbourg…
On Sunday afternoon, we ventured across the border to Strasbourg, France, for what is known to sport some sort of Christmas Market epicness. After visiting, I cannot say a lot for the Christmas Market (crowded, touristy, too many candy stands, no real Christmas items), but the city of Strasbourg is pretty spectacular. It has a beautiful mixture of French, German, medieval, and gothic styles that totally blend into something showy but charming. I can’t explain it. The tall, narrow buildings squish together and are distinguished by their sloping roofs, wood frames, color choice, etc. It’s all pretty spectacular, and if I was any sort of good photographer, I could sit in Strasbourg for days trying to pinpoint all of its beauty.
They also really outdid themselves with Christmas lights. I hope no one from Strasbourg visits Karlsruhe this time of year. I am probably a little bias, but I do love the market here much more do to its smaller size and more traditional offerings. However, Karlsruhe lights look like they have been recycled from the 70s. Strasbourg looks like it is putting on a show of sorts, with entire streets themed, lighting up, changing colors, etc. Unfortunately, I was straight terrible at catching this in the photos, but if you can get to Strasbourg during the Christmas season, I highly recommend it.
Our brain lapse…
After sufficiently freezing ourselves, we decided to warm up with some beers before heading back to Karlsruhe. We arrive back at the train station at 10 pm, only to see that the next train across the border to Offenburg is at 12:05 am. Whatever, guess we’ll head back to the bar. We decided we should go ahead and get our tickets, and head to the counter instead of the machines in order to use our discount cards. The ticket counter informs us that sure, we can go to Offenburg, but there is no connection from there to Karlsruhe until 5 am.
Hold on, WHATTTTTT?! Mind you, it was a Sunday so we all have school/work the following morning combined with the fact that I slept 3.5 hours the night before and literally all I wanted was a full night’s sleep in my bed. Is that too much to ask?
Cue Alex madwoman/find-a-solution mode. Order of initial thoughts: 1) Bus 2) Mitfahrgelegenheit (ride share) 3) Taxi 4) Stay the night. To explore all of these options, we needed Wifi. Naturally, we find the nearest McDonald’s and set up Google-shop.
Responses: 1) no buses 2) last ride left 30 minutes ago 3) taxi quoted us a merely 1080 Euro 4) this will have to do – Hotwire.com it is.
We ended up each with beds in a Hilton for 26 Euro/each, pretty sweet deal if you ask me. If I was not so dang exhausted, I really would not have cared. But I was, and last thing I wanted was to be in a random hotel, in France, spending more money, not sleeping in my own bed, and waking up at 7 for our train home. Maybe next time I’ll avoid the trains with one of those cheap flights to France.
This short trip made me realize a couple of things 1) I am in desperate need of a vacation (Amsterdam this weekend!) because I felt overwhelmed being in a country where I could not communicate at all. Ok, my hand signals usually did the trick, but I mean with words. 2) It also made me realize how far I’ve come with my German. I never feeling overwhelmed or lost here anymore. This little realizations make all the difference when you are sick and tired of trying to learn new words. Then again, there are SO many more people willing to speak English or French in Germany. The French were quite relectuant with us in both English and German, even at the tourist information stands and train station.
For those of you still with me, have we all learned a lesson today?
ALWAYS check the last train, bus, ride, etc. available or you will end up staying an unplanned night.
Have you ever had a complete and utter brain fart like this? Anyone been to Strasbourg?