When you are traveling, you are often very busy, on a tight schedule, or lacking access to common conveniences such as restaurants or food stalls. Add a lack of food to the stress of being in a strange country or city can lead to the condition known as “hangry”, which is anger or irritation caused by not having enough to eat. It has probably happened to all of us at one time or another and now we can often see it starting in one another when we start to get short with each other.
One of our very first trips abroad was to Paris and we were definitely tourists and not travelers at the time. As is typical for overseas flights, we flew late in the afternoon and overnight to arrive first thing in the morning at the Charles De Gaulle airport. Not wanting to lose any time during our trip, we did what we always do, which is to immediately acclimate to the local time and start our day even though we’d been up most of the night. It happened to be at a time when there was a transportation strike, so we had to walk to all of the sights that we wanted to see that day.
We made the most of the day, had a light lunch, and enjoyed walking along the Seine, seeing the Eiffel Tower, and just walking the streets of Paris. As the afternoon came to end, we decided to head back towards our hotel on the Left Bank to find a restaurant for dinner. This was our first trip to Paris and we didn’t know at the time that most restaurants don’t open until at least 7pm for dinner and most don’t open until even later. To make matters worse, we found ourselves lost as we tried to make our way back to the hotel. The net result was that we started snapping at each other and yes we were getting hangry. Eventually we ate dinner and we were back to holding hands and enjoying one of the most romantic cities in the world.
These days we always make sure to carry a power bar or snack with us as there have been many times where we don’t have access to a meal. Whether in the jungle or driving through remote areas, having something with you at all times is always a good idea. That doesn’t mean that we never get hangry anymore, but we certainly try to avoid it as it can ruin part of your day. Have you ever gotten hangry during your travels?
With historic streets lined with timber framed buildings, Strasbourg is a beautiful city that will transport you back in time. Sitting on the border of France and Germany, the city has been under the control of both nations at different times in it’s history, but it maintains a uniquely independent nature. Strasbourg is also the largest city in Alsace and it is the official seat of the European Parliament.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg dominates the skyline of the city and its tower made it the tallest building in the world for hundreds of years. Although less famous than the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, it is a beautiful example of the classic Gothic architecture. In addition to the stained glass windows and religious artwork, the cathedral also houses an astronomical clock that was built in the 1800’s. The current clock is the third to be built in the cathedral and is as fascinating as the one that can be found in Prague.
Without a doubt, the highlight of visiting Strasbourg is simply walking the streets of the old town and seeing the medieval architecture. Sitting on the Rhine river, there are many canals within the city and we would certainly recommend taking a river sight-seeing tour of Strasbourg to gain a different perspective. Although not as ornate as the cathedral, St. Thomas’ Church in the heart of old town is just as fascinating with its clock tower and unique architecture.
There are many options for dining in Strasbourg as well, whether you are in the mood for classic French cuisine or would prefer some authentic German dishes. If you are a fan of wine, you won’t be disappointed as the city is close to the start of the Wine Road of Alsace with many vineyards in the region. Even if you don’t drive down the entire route, it is certainly worth going for a wine tasting while you are in the area.
Obviously, there are many towns that maintain their medieval architecture, but Strasbourg is certainly one of the prettiest. We happened to visit during the holiday season and many of the various shops and hotels were adorned with elaborate, festive decorations. Regardless of the time of year, you should expect large crowds of tourists in the area, but especially during the summer when people flock to the area because of the wine road.
The Palace of Versailles is fascinating not only for its opulent, over-the-top decorations, but also for its truly interesting history. We visited during autumn, so the gardens weren’t in bloom, but they were still beautiful. There are several different sites on the palace grounds including the Royal Apartments, the Royal Stables, the Gardens, the Estate of Trianon, and the Hall of Mirrors. It is a quick train ride from Paris to reach Versailles, which is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) outside of Paris.
We recently watched the miniseries about the building of Versailles, and although completely dramatized, it does actually provide some insight into the building of the palace from what was originally a grand hunting lodge. Over time, additional wings were added to the main palace building and additional salons added. Although it is interesting to see how King Louis XIV enlarged the palace starting in 1878 until his death in 1715. It certainly wasn’t without controversy and certainly was a factor that lead to the revolution in 1789.
As you walk through the Royal Apartments, it is hard to imagine the King and Queen sitting in their beds and receiving visitors. It is even harder to imagine that select members of court and the church would gather around the bed on the wedding nights to confirm the consummation of the nuptials. Walking through the Hall of Mirrors is certainly an experience that we will never forget as the light from the windows that open to the gardens reflect off of the gilded mirrors.
Walking around the palace and its grounds provides a glimpse into a period in time when wealth and arrogance knew no bounds. Versailles should definitely be on your itinerary when planning a trip to Paris and it will take you a full day to fully enjoy all that there is to see.