I always had difficulties in the preparation of my travel bag. Generally, I do it in the last moment, but often I forget something: the toothpaste, the sleepers, a pair of shoes and so on. Luckily for some of the things left at home the hotels can help me, in many cases they have toothpaste and sleepers, but for something else I need to visit local shops. Especially when it comes to clothes or shoes it can be hard for me, but in a while, I find the right mood. That’s why I prepared a checklist that I share with you together with my packing tips.
I like to travel with the essential, but especially traveling for business means to have elegant clothes. To be “perfect” for meetings. That is why when I forgot something at home I need to replace it, maybe because I do not have enough shirts or trousers… Why is it hard? Well, Italians are always research for fashion and to be trendy. I have to admit, I am a bit extravagant, so, despite the voluntary to be impeccable during my meetings. I do not always follow the rules of the color matching and I am quite open to some local clothes and habits. Now with the packing tips, it is easier.
Packing tips: why I use them
When I enter a shop the instinct is to search the Italian style. But in some towns, it is not possible, so I start to explore the local fashion. I experiment with a new international style. But this is another story, so it is better to go back to the main topic: the packing tips. So to be sure to make it right, I have my own list. What to bring to my destination?
First of all, I need clothes and I have to consider the season. Including the periods with climate changes. So it is the moment to be prepared for the cold and warm climate. Then I need shoes, it is better also to have sleepers just in case. I have to put toothbrush, toothpaste, and razor. This is the list, part of my packing tips, that I generally use to not forget anything.
My next trip is already on my agenda and I will go back to Balkans, an area where I have been different times in last years. This time the country to be visited is Macedonia, not the Greek region but the country that now is called Republic of North Macedonia. I will have some work meeting in different places, so I want to try to plan some time as a tourist and explore better also some towns where I have been without so much time to see the attractions and the curiosities.
In the years I bought some books to know better the history of Former Yugoslavia and go deep in the culture, but I continue to research to know more because those countries are reach of history with a lot of connections with Western Europe. I decide to read an old book of a travel experience published in 1941 that describe very well social, cultural and political aspects of that time.
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia is a travel journal with a specific analysis of the culture, the history and the politics made from an international point of view. It is not a history book, because all the elements are declined as in a diary, so easily explained from a traveller that is exploring the country. There is a meeting with people and a character that help the traveller to enter in Western Balkans world.
The brilliant observation written in the book helps me to enter more deep in the Slavic history and to learn more about the culture, step by step. Reading it I am living almost the same journey, even do it is a different period. In next days I will be again there and I will use what I have read to try to catch more benefits from my travelling in Balkans.
Stay tuned, I will post soon about my North Macedonia visits.
Now it is time to write about my accomodation in Strasbourg and also to share my experience in some restaurants, the ones I really suggest you to go. As you now I like luxury but especially to have some unique and comfortable experiences. You already know how I check the hotels and as always I chosen the structure considering the location in the city and the services provided.
The five star accomodation is located directly on the river in Petite France neighborhood close to the half-timbered houses and to the most characteristic restaurants of the city. It is the best position to start the visit of the city and to enjoy a lovely view of Strasbourg. The Régent Petite France Hotel offer a restaurant with a terrace from where admire a great panorama.
The ideal place to visit the city and the proximity with the shops and the attractions are not the only strenght of the structure. The building was built in XIX century and it was an ice factory, not the shape is the same, but there are modern elements and especially inside the setting is modern style, in the lobby as in the rooms. Elegance is anyway the main feature in every corner.
Inside there is a spa and a fitness center, but I did not have time to use them, I preferred to go around in the city. About the rooms I can underline the big space and a contemporary style of the furniture and of the décor. The bathroom are made with marble and the suite has a balconie from were to enjoy the view of the Petite France buildings. The modern equipment helps the comfort of the stay.
The restaurant of the hotel, Le Pont Tournant, offers the traditional cuisine in a light version, with an innovative touch. To accompain the meal there is the riverside terrace, a nice environment especially for dinner. The menu is seasonal made. The Champagne Bar is always ready to give drinks and some snack as steak tartare or club sandwich. Last but not least it is the breakfast, prepared as a big buffet with cold and hot dishes and a good variety of cheese, cold meat, toast, fruit and sweets recipes.
The first one that I want to mention is called Au Crocodile, the name is quite original, meanwhile the menu starts from the tradition with some innovative creation that offers delicious tastes obtained by selected local and seasonal ingredients. The elegance and the impeccable service are the elements that make the restaurant a must for who wants to have a unique gastronomic experience. In the desserts list there is a space dedicated to the cheeses, with a selection of Alsace and French best products. Oh, I forgot to mention that it has a Michelin star.
A bit hidden from the street, in a Petite France courtyard, the restaurant Perles de Saveurs proposes a setting made by artworks of some loal artists and it has a typical French menu. The tradition let the space to contemporary recipes, always connected to the country cuisine. The fish dishes are superb and in this case I suggest to taste the lemon cake (tarte au citron), in my opinion very delicious. Maybe you can skip the cheese.
A small restaurant managed by a wife and an husband represent a small Alsatian jewel. La Cuiller à Potoffers regional cuisine with traditional dishes prepared at the moment. The quality of the ingredients is very high and there are homemade specialties. Among the special dishes there are the escargots, but since I do not like them I can not express any opinion about them. Anyway the various choice is able to delight every person. If you like cheese, just ask to them and you will taste some of the most delicious products of the Alsace.
Not far from the cathedral there is the restaurant Le Clou, a bistro typical of France with an old but elegant and characteristic decor and furniture. The regional recipes are served with professionality and the ingredients used are coming from a quality selection of the local products. They have of course a good cheese to be tasted after the second course and it is a must since it is one of the strenght of the French cuisine. The staff is very kind and the prices are quite cheap compared to what is offered.
I can not recommend specific bars, but going around Petite France you can find squares full of places where to drink something in the evening and have fun. The city has a lot of offers for all tastes and you can find also various types of music and entertainment, also because Strasbourg is a touristdestination and headquarter of the European Parliament, so open to people from all around the world with different cultures and age. I suggest you to try to enter in more bars, so you can experiment the different atmospheres.
There are no specific tips regarding the safety, it is a well protected city, of course it is good to pay attention, but it is full of young people quite open minded but at the same time serious and friendly, as people in general are, because they are used to meet foreigners.
Just an episode that happened to me during one of my visits to Strasbourg. Close to the cathedral a small group of drunk guys were trying to approach people and disturb them. In less than one minut the police, by bike and by walk, came and surrounded the group. They checked those guys and took them away. The police was not standing in the square, but somehow they are always around and ready to act.
Of course it is the main part of the city, the heart of Strasbourg, but in a very discrete way the police is always present, so be careful if you want to be drunk 😀
Time to time I go to Strasbourg. The reason for my visits is business, but luckily I always have some free hours to discover something of the city. I saw the main attractions and the beauties of the city. There are of course some places that must be seen for a traveler. But also some less known places that are amazing. I spent there only a few days. Luckily I had enough time to see what I wanted and also to go a bit outside Strasbourg.
You maybe have already read my previous post about the curiosities of Strasbourg, meanwhile, in this article, I describe some of the attractions that I visited on my last trip. More I go there and more I fall in love with the capital of Alsace, really an amazing area in France, close to the German border.
The first step in Strasbourg: the island
From where to start a visit? The Grand Île (it means large island) is the historical center of the city and it is under Unesco Heritage. It has a particular atmosphere because the buildings and the streets are kept like in the past and it helps the visitor to jump in the past. There are beautiful buildings that remind the German style and many lovely bars and restaurants.
In the main square of the Grand Île, there is one of the main attractions of Strasbourg: the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral, a marvelous example of Gothic architecture. There is no entrance fee, except for the platform to go up. Climbing the 332 stairs the visitors can arrive on the top to admire all the city. The sun must enjoy the panorama. The church has a large rose window on the main facade and there is also an astronomical clock: every day at 12.30 pm it turns to show the various ages of the life using the parade of apostles before Christ.
Walking in the area it is possible to see four medieval churches and St. Paul. Among the medieval churces. I liked very much Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune because inside there are a lot of frescos realized in XIV century. That art is great and it is very interesting to go deep into religious history using the artistic representations of the ancient time. The religious buildings are not the only one to be seen.
The square that hosts the cathedral, called Gutenberg, is amazing, maybe not too big but with all impressive buildings from different ages, starting from the medieval age to XVIII century. The best idea to see the different constructions is to seat in one of the coffee shops present in the square and take a look with tranquility.
In the area, there are three interesting museums, all of them located in Palais Rohan: one dedicated to archeology, one to fine arts and the last one to decorative arts. They deserve a visit and you need not less than half a day if you want to see the collections. Moving through the prestigious palaces you can reach the most characteristic area, almost intact as it was when they built it.
The French village in the city
Petite France (Little France) is a picturesque neighborhood of Strasbourg, where in the past the fishermen and the workers were living. It is close to the water and made by half-wooden houses well preserved and protected against humidity and water. A trip with the boat on the river is a good way to explore the city. You can pass from the old part os Strasbourg to the modern buildings, main occupied by EU institutions. It is almost like start the journey in the ancient time and arrive directly to a future era.
The element that I adore about the modern architecture in Strasbourg is the glass that offers great reflexes of the ancient buildings, of the water and the sky, especially during the sunset time. During the trip on the river, it is easy to catch the shape of the city and to see the location of the main attractions. I think the boat can be even the starting point of the trip, so from there you can decide what to see and when.
Crossing bridges and walking in the park
Who loves the architecture can’t miss the covered bridges, built as part of the fortification to defend Strasbourg by the attacks and to guarantee the movements of the inhabitants inside the city. To find them you need to follow the river around Petite France. Some restaurants offer a great view of the river and its ancient bridges, so you can taste the local food and admire the architectural works.
To walk around nature there is the lovely Orangerie Park, there are many varieties of flowers and trees but many locals and tourists are going there to practice some sport before to start the day or just to keep themselves in form and playing together during some daybreak. It is quite big, so there is a lot of space to use without disturbing each other and find a space full of quiet in the middle of Strasbourg.
The park has some direct connections with the river, so it offers nice corners with a nice view. If you like to take special pictures of the river and mixing the nature and the buildings, the Orangerie is the perfect location, you will stay there for hours, maybe also to have a break during your tour and take some fresh air after a visit to the local museums.
Present and future
The modernity is represented by the European Union buildings. The main ones are three: the Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. The first one was built on a corner on the river where the boat tour finish. And it is full of glass there, so the sun and the sky are always visible on the palace windows. It is different from the typical architecture of Strasbourg, but this is the charm of these constructions.
I had the chance to be inside and what impressed me is the natural light that enters in corridors and different rooms. But also the luxury of the setting and the floral decorations that come from the top of the internal walls. The spaces are so big. But this is not related to my tour in Strasbourg.
I still have to see many things, but I hope to do it in my next trips, as to go out from the city and to see the castles, there are some not far from Strasbourg. I suggest you also to go to Eguishem, a small village a few kilometers far from the city with half-timber houses full of flowers on the balconies. It is the only place outside the urban area that I visited.
Plan the trip
Now it’s time to put Strasbourg on your agenda. Plan a trip there. You can find a mean of transport on the Infobus platform that offers the best deals.
If you want more tips and ideas check out the destinations section of the blog. Then subscribe to my newsletter to get updates.
I have been several time in past in Strasbourg, but always for work reasons and for this reason mainly focused on institutions. The city is famous, together with Brussels, as capital of the European Union because of the presence of the European Parliament, the headquarter for the plenary assembly, and other offices, included the diplomatic missions of the various countries. This time I explore Strasbourg as tourist.
I already discovered that the city is the third one in France as tourism destination chosen by the worldwide travellers. They are right, because there are many attractions to be seen and also a walk in the centre or a trip on the river with the boat is something that gives satisfactions to the tourists. In some corners of Strasbourg as the streets and the buildings are it is like to jump in the past, travelling through history.
Before to describe some of the best monuments and museums, I want to share some curiosities. First of all it is necessary to mention that the Grande Île is protected as Unesco Heritage. As you know Strasbourg is located on the border between France and Germany, so crossing the river Rhine you can find the city of Kehl. Anyway on the French side in the city area are living around half a million inhabitants and this means that Strasbourg is the nineth city in the country.
If you want to visit the down town you should know that the best way is on foot or by bike, in order to not miss any particular corner and to enjoy better the atmosphere of the area. If you prefer to use the public transport network, you can be sure that it works perfectly, it is well organized. Never be in hurry in that part of Strasbourg because you will need a lot of time to visit the different attractions and to take pictures of the well kept buildings, bridged and small streets with characteristic shops and restaurants.
Thinking about the restaurants when a traveller goes to the city a must is the sauerkraut (choucroute in French), made with cabbage. It is a specialty served in the traditional restaurants and I have to say that is quite good, reminding a bit the German style mixed with the French cuisine, especially from Alsatian region. You will be delighted, but of course on the menu there are different proposals.
About the culture Strasbourg is really active and it offers many free and not free events: opera, ballet, concerst, exhibitions and so on. There is a big number of museums able to satisfy every interests. The quantity of the collections is not second to the one of the entertainment. The city offers a great nightlife thanks to the largest concentration of bars and clubs that remain open until dawn in Europe. There are lovely squares full of patios and young people where spend the evening drinking, chatting and have fun.
The architecture of the city has similarities with Germany because the influence that comes from the other side of the border is obviously high. Among the big and modern buildings of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe there are many ancient architectural testimonies like the Cathédrale Notre Dame, built between 1176 and 1439 with a 142 metres tower from where to enjoy the panorama over the city.
Stay tuned, because in the next article I will write about the attractions, going deep in what to see in Strasbourg.
Traveler's blog: experiences, guides, tips, and deals.