Monday: Strasbourg

Today was a driving day: Salzburg, Austria to Strasbourg, France. The distance is about 5 1/2 hours but with snow coming down when we left this morning then a complete nightmare of the center of the city being closed off for security reasons, it took us closer to seven hours.

Last year at this time, the Strasbourg Christmas Market was the scene of a terrorist attack, with people killed and injured. This year there is no entry to the city at all by car, so we parked at a garage and walked to where we are staying. We got to a checkpoint and were stopped by police to open our luggage. We didn’t understand it all at first, but remembered the whole awful tragedy once we arrived at our lodging and talked with people there.

Strasbourg is a bigger city than I realized, so we will enjoy checking it out tomorrow. We had dinner at one of the few restaurants open on Monday, and by the time we were finished the market was closed for the day and the streets were quiet.


photos: snow in Salzburg this morning; decorations we walked by in Strasbourg this evening; a building in the city

Monday, March 23: Laguardia, Spain

I had heard it raining overnight, but was surprised to see it was snowing this morning. Yesterday it had been sunny and warm south of us and now, in the Rioja wine region of northern Spain, it was much, much colder.

I haven’t bought any clothes for below-freezing temperatures, but bundled up with what I have. Our plan was to walk to the gated entrance to the village (it turns out our hotel is right outside it, maybe a ten-minute walk) and check out Laguardia. We couldn’t do that because the snow turned to pouring rain. We waited it out, then drove to the entrance and dashed in through a gate.

Laguardia is over a thousand years old and is like another world. Surrounded by huge stone walls, it is easy to see how it provided the people of the city safety from attack. What is remarkable is that 1,500 people live there in these modern times.

It is a totally inclusive walled village made of blocks of stone. By “totally inclusive” I mean that the people never have to leave the walls of the city and few, if any they have cars. There are shops, restaurants, bars, services – it seems as though they have anything they need.

As soon as I dashed in, I marveled at the narrow stone-lined streets. I couldn’t take pictures since we were running in the rain. We were not really sure where to go since there are just doors within stone walls. Everything looks very similar. Some doors are people’s homes, others are businesses. There are no storefront windows, so you have to know where you’re going. This posed a problem because of the rain, since we couldn’t just walk casually around. And of course we had no idea where we were going.

We ducked into one tiny shop that had some nice sweaters displayed near the open door. The saleswoman/owner was nice although she spoke almost no English. She was able to direct us to a great restaurant after I bought a sweater there, and we dashed up the street because it was still raining.

After a delicious lunch, the waiter suggested we check out the restaurant’s cellar. Underneath the entire walled city are wine cellars. They have been separated under businesses and homes now, so are not connected as they were when they were first built as one huge place to safely store the village’s wine. It was interesting to see the small connected rooms that snaked underneath the building.

Tomorrow we are going to tour a winery and check out more of the inside of the walled village. We are hoping it is not raining or snowing so we can walk around.

Adios,
-Susan

The old and grand restaurant where we had lunch today.

The old and grand restaurant where we had lunch today.

The wine bar was not open when we were there in the late afternoon, but it was interesting to see the setup. We may go back tomorrow evening to see what it's like with people there.

The wine bar was not open when we were there in the late afternoon, but it was interesting to see the setup. We may go back tomorrow evening to see what it’s like with people there.

A sweater and pashmina I got today in the walled city

A sweater and pashmina I got today in the walled city

At lunch today

At lunch today

The caves underneath the restaurant. Wine is stored there, but it is also a wine bar at night.

The caves underneath the restaurant. Wine is stored there, but it is also a wine bar at night.