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Strasbourg with two Bears and two Wombats

An Unusual Meeting

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The official group photo

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In Summer 2018 we had special guests from New Zealand: a friend whom we knew from dear old defunct Virtualtourist, and her bear Kimi. Kimi is already more than 30 years old and a very experienced travel bear. They had come over to visit family and friends in their old home in Swabia. We had the pleasure of having them stay at my house for almost a week. Russell the Wombat and Kimi the Bear have been internet friends for many years, and it was them who brought Billy Joe over from Melbourne a year before.

Kimi had also been active on Facebook, which we had so far refused to join. But Russell changed his mind. After Kimi and his Mama had left, I found out that Russell had secretly signed up on Facebook behind my back. The explanation convinced me: first, to read and watch the reports of Kimi's latest adventures and antics, second, to stay in touch with a new friend...

Through said Facebook, Kimi and Kimi-Mama were in touch with a French teddy bear and his Maman. They had arranged a meeting in Strasbourg. The Karlsruhers were invited to come along. We knew neither of the two, but both turned out to be really sweet and enjoyable company. It was a rewarding meeting.

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The distance between Karlsruhe and Strasbourg looks close on the map. By train, it has its woes, though. Either you take the TGV which takes you there in less than an hour but at horrendous fares, or local trains that require time-consuming connections via Appenweier or Offenburg. I hate long coach rides but we decided to give Flixbus a try. There were various connections to chose from for less than 10 € each way. Another advantage of the coach is the location of the bus station in Place de l'Étoile, much less walking distance from the interesting parts of the town than the railway station. I proudly announce that I managed the coach ride without getting sick.

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The meeting was scheduled at lunchtime. We took an early morning bus and had a couple of hours to play with. Kimi's Mama is a sports person through and through while I already had troubles with long walks (we know now why). The weather forecast predicted horrendously high temperatures, again not my piece of cake. According to the Smartwatch we walked more than 22,000 steps that day. I was very proud of myself.
We set off at Place de l'Étoile, crossed the canal and walked into town, then followed the Quais on the Ill to La Petite France, then over to Barrage Vauban.

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Crooked attempt at a panorama from Barrage Vauban

Barrage Vauban, part of the city's fortifications from the 17th century, offers a splendid panoramic view of the city. It was a bit windy that morning - Kimi is heavy enough but for the light wombats it would have been far too dangerous to let them sit on the balustrade. They had to wait until we were on safe ground.

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Balancing two wombats on one hand is not as easy as it may look.

Midday approached and we made our way to the cathedral. This involved a nerve-wrecking fight with the very new electronic ticketing system that even Strasbourgers struggled with, as it had only been introduced at the beginning of the month and we were there on August 2. We ended up walking.

The meeting point was a restaurant in Place du Chateau, right by the cathedral. It was boiling hot and terribly crowded and searching for a person we did not know in a restaurant we did not know where to look for, that almost wrecked the rest of my remaining nerves. Luckily only almost, we succeeded just in time. We sat down in a pleasantly cool shaded courtyard outside a small restaurant and introduced each other. The fluffies helped to immediately breaking the ice!

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Kimi and Pobby

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Checking out the menu

Pobby is almost as old as his Maman, she got him when she was 2. Somehow he has lost his nose. His name derives from P. O. B., Petit Ours Brun. He is another well-travelled bear: His Maman works as a language teacher with the U.N. military and has been teaching French to soldiers in various countries mostly in Asia. When we met them they were about to leave for a new job in Indonesia. Currently they live in Korea.

This restaurant specializes in dishes with chocolate. They have some truly unusual combinations on their menu. We ordered big salads that were super tasty and the perfect refreshment in summer heat. (That said, the bears were not so happy with our choice of food while the wombats as lovers of fresh greens appreciated it.

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My salad, made with fruit and bits of dark chocolate

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After lunch we took some photos around the cathedral. The bronze miniature cathedral is actually meant for blind humans but provided the perfect seat for The Official Group Photo (see above).

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We then went for a walk in the lanes behind the cathedral, just like true tourists, and admired the many little shops with tasty goodies, edible and non-edible souvenirs.

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At one shop the saleswomen noticed us and came out. The kind ladies even offered to take a group photo of humans and fluffies all together.

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We walked and walked in the heat, first to Place Broglie, then over to Place de la République. The latter has formerly been named Kaiserplatz and the pompous law court and administration buildings around it date from the era when Alsace belonged to the German empire under Emperors Wilhelm I and II.

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As I said, it was boiling hot. The frequence of pressing the shutter of my camera became significantly slower, which is always a bad sign. We all dreamed of a lovely big ice-cream... and here our host's local knowledge came handy!

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The best and most famous ice-cream place in the city is notoriously so terribly overcrowded that it is un-bear-able even for bears. Few know, however, that they have a branch inside a big modern shopping mall outside the centre, actually not far from the bus station in Place de l'Étoile. Another advantage: the mall has air condition!

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Luckily the other two had mercy on me. Or pretended to have, and were secretly fed up with walking in the heat, too. We hopped onto a tram, and in no time we were there.

We spent a long time there in this lovely cool place, chatting along as if we had known each other for years. All I can say is that their products are de-li-ci-ous.

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Ever had violet ice-cream? (Violet the flower, that is.)
I have to hurry, or these two will devour my whole serving.

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The mall is located close to a former harbour area that has lost its original functions. The quays around the harbour basins are now covered with buildings that contain offices and apartments. Together with a couple of bars and restaurants this area is supposed to become Strasbourg's latest "hip" quarter.

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After our long ice-cream and coffee break dinner time drew nearer. Once more, our host provided her local knowledge and suggested a brewery restaurant famous for Flammkuchen, or tarte flambée. We felt refreshed to tackle the walk, I secretly hoped it would not be too long. The temperature had become more bearable with the lowering sun, though.

All I can say is that I made it! The Flammkuchen was once more delicious, as was their own beer. After dinner it was time for us to catch our bus back to Karlsruhe.

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We were treated to the best of Alsatian lifestyle that day, namely the food and restaurant culture...

Posted by Kathrin_E 08:18 Archived in France Tagged france alsace strasbourg

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