The sixth day of our Enchanting Rhine River cruise with AmaWaterways, which embarked in Amsterdam and ended in Basel, Switzerland, took us to Strasbourg, France. The previous day had been spent in Heidelberg, Germany, a historical gem on the Neckar River.
Disclosure: my mother and I were hosted for an Enchanting Rhine river cruise courtesy of AmaWaterways. No conditions were made for a review and as always, my opinions are solely mine.
My mother and I had been having one of the best holidays we’ve ever had aboard the AmaCerto, being treated like VIPs, morning, noon and night! The excursions had all been fabulous, especially with the marvelous tour guides that AmaWaterways staff hand picks to lead the small groups. Last, but not least, the food on board always exceeded our expectations (which were high to begin with.)
In the morning before we ventured into Strasbourg, we had an early breakfast from the buffet.
Those passengers who chose to go on the Strasbourg hike departed at 9 am, and those of us who chose the city tour, left half an hour afterwards. One of the most amazing things I saw on my entire trip was on this short bus ride from Kehl, Germany, where we were docked, to Strasbourg, France. Our tour guide began telling us about the storks of Alsace, but then we spotted them! It was almost like a stork factory production line as each of the trees lining the streets had a nest with storks in them! Luckily, our bus driver stopped for us to have a quick photo-taking opportunity. You can see a video clip here.
My mother and I were elated to see so many storks in their nests. Our tour guide told us that the storks are a major influence in Alsace living, having many stories and legends passed down from generation to generation. We saw images of them in many places afterwards, and I would hazard a guess that the myth of storks bringing babies to parents might have begun here.
On the way to La Petit France, the old town of Strasbourg, we passed several important and significant buildings such as the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.
The contemporary style of architecture in the buildings soon began to transform into older and more classic. On the way, we passed St. Paul’s, a beautiful gothic revival church.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when we arrived in Grande Île, Strasbourg’s historic city center which has been name a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Immediately, I fell in love with this city. The architecture alone had me smitten!
Our guide took us along the canal, explaining the interesting historical facts about Strasbourg and its struggles over the centuries between France and Germany. Soon we were in the medieval area of the tanners, with old, half timbered buildings and homes lining the streets. This building was erected in 1572 and is now a restaurant.
We were shown the windows in the rooftops where the skins were put out to cure. I could only imagine how horrific the odors must have been back then. Thank goodness there’s no longer any ongoing tanning.
Our guide continued to take us through the cobblestoned streets, pointing out many different buildings, shops and telling us so many interesting facts about this magical part of the city as we walked.
Soon, we came upon the Strasbourg Cathedral, or the Cathedrale de Notre Dame, as the locals call it, imposing over one of the small streets: it was awe-inspiring.
For over 200 years, the cathedral held the title for the tallest building in the world; it is now the sixth tallest church in the world. It didn’t take quite as long to build the Strasbourg Cathedral as it did the Cologne Cathedral, but it did take 273 years (construction began in 1176.) There is an incredible amount of detail on the exterior of this structure alone, and it would take ages to fully appreciate all of it.
The interior of the cathedral was also astonishing. It is truly one of the most exquisite buildings in the world.
One of the most incredible features inside the Strasbourg Cathedral is the Astronomical Clock which is one of the largest in the world. It is extremely accurate and can discern when Easter will be in any given year. At 12:30 pm each day-
…the clock shows much more than the official time; it also indicates solar time, the day of the week (each represented by a god of mythology), the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac, the phase of the moon and the position of several planets. All these automatons are put into operation at 12:30 PM. – Wikipedia
AmaWaterways gave us tickets if we wanted to see the clock in action, which would have been wonderful to see, but Mum and I decided to explore more of the city instead (although if we had more than one day in Strasbourg, we absolutely would have waited for this display.)
Our tour guide then gave us some tips and the rest of the time in Strasbourg was ours. We had chosen not to go back to the ship for lunch, so we stayed until the latest bus went back to the ship (there were numerous shuttles back and forth on this day, so we had lots of flexibility in what we could do.) Mum and I ventured into the area around the cathedral first to scope out places for lunch, although it was still early.
This is the square in front of the cathedral; everyone was really enjoying the lovely weather.
Including my mother and me!
We picked up a snack because we couldn’t pass it up.
Walking through the streets was so peaceful; there were many where we were the only pedestrians, and there were no cars or cyclists, either. Many of the streets were actually pedestrian-only.
Mum and I soon came upon something we couldn’t resist: a bakery with bread and RHUBARB TART in the window! Those of you who know me, know I cannot pass up anything rhubarb! Mum had her eye on a simple Jambon Beurre, so in we went!
I saved my pie for later, but we both tore into the sandwich! Delicious, but it only made us hungry so we headed back to a weinstube (a wine bar/tavern) we spotted earlier.
Mum had a bowl of French Onion Soup and I ordered escargot, and in all honesty, I could have eaten a dozen instead of six because they were so incredibly tasty. Unfortunately, Mum’s soup was a disappointment. (We later learned that we’d missed Weinerschnitzel on the ship! Oh no!)
Mum and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring more of Strasbourg, we did a little shopping and I took lots of pictures!
My mother decided to go back to the ship with some friends from the cruise, while I stayed behind with another new-found friend to do a bit more sight-seeing and have some beautifully scooped ice cream that tasted as good as it looked!
Once we were back on the ship, it was time to get ready for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail, and Gala Dinner. Mum and I were elated to be given a paper scroll tied up with a ribbon inviting us to sit with the Captain at his table! We were truly honored to be asked.
In the lounge later, Captain Istvan introduced the crew, chefs, managerial staff, bar and wait staff and others, and we toasted this wonderful crew.
After all the guests went to the restaurant to be seated for dinner, the four other invited guests, my mother and I, Captain Istvan and our Cruise Manager, Edward, stayed behind for another toast and a photo.
Dinner was simply a magnificent feast. The chefs never lowered the bar once during the entire cruise, and the service was always impeccable. I honestly would not make this up and am being completely truthful when I say that the food was just top-notch at every meal. It’s actually more difficult for me to write that everything was phenomenal because readers may think I have an ulterior motive, or I’m just not being honest, but this is just not the case. Take a look at these photos (which are not the best due to the indoor lighting.)
Amuse Bouche- Spinach, Feta Cheese and Tomato Salsa- a delightful and delicious start to our meal.
Appetizers- Crab Cake, Crayfish, Sweet Chili Cream, Wakame and Sour Cream- a lovely combination; the crayfish and crab cake were both sweet and fresh.
Soup- Lemon Grass Flavored Crayfish Bisque with Puff Pastry Sticks- light, yet flavorful; the lemongrass was a nice touch.
Sorbet- Refreshing Cassis and Sparkling Wine -I loved this palate cleanser!
Main Course- Grilled Sea Bream, Green Asparagus, Butter Sauce, Lemon Capers, Zucchini Pearls and Saffron Risotto- the fish was beautiful, but I just took a photo as I had the beef fillet.
Main Course- Tranche of Whole Roasted Black Angus Beef Fillet, Rosemary Jus, Red Wine Shallots, Carved Vegetables and Chive Mashed Potato- I’m not a beef person, but every cut of beef I had on the cruise was fantastic, this fillet, included. The presentation was also 5 stars!
Main Course (my mother’s choice)- Sage Gnocchi, Fresh Basil and White Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes and Gorgonzola- my mother is an Italian food litmus test for good and proper Italian cooking and even the gnocchi passed with flying colors. I will admit, I also tasted the gnocchi and I had to stop myself from eating my mother’s.
In between the courses, everyone had so much fun at the Captain’s Table, chatting, laughing and drinking with each other. My mother truly enjoyed the dinner, too; it was just a wonderful evening!
DESSERT- “Strawberry Reverie”- Strawberry Mousse, Strawberry Sorbet and Chocolate Cake- my goodness, the pastry chef knows what she’s doing! Each dessert was a strawberry celebration in flavor!
DESSERT- (my mother’s choice) “Banana Split”- Banana, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce, Almond a Wafer and Whipped Cream
There were also some stunning petit fours which were passed around. How could I resist?
Later that evening, Edward had arranged to have a couple of guest entertainers perform French chansons in the lounge.
What else could have made the day any more enjoyable and unforgettable? I can’t think of a thing.
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Disclosure:my mother and I were hosted for an Enchanting Rhine river cruise courtesy of AmaWaterways.
No conditions were made for a review and as always, my opinions are solely mine.
I am posting this in accordance with FTC regulations.