After our many stops in Germany, the AmaCello finally arrived in France. I had never heard of the town of Strasbourg prior to it being on our river cruise itinerary so I didn’t know what to expect. Having previously been to Paris, I guess I was expecting something a little more metropolitan, but I was delighted with the picturesque qualities of the town.
And it all started with the swans.
Eager to see the newest place, I woke up before the sun and pulled back the curtains to reveal a dark and chilly morning. Suddenly, I caught the sight of a white figure gliding along the water. It was a beautiful—and rather large—swan. Anyone who knows me knows that I unabashedly talk to animals in clicks and chirps in the faint hope that they will respond. The swan instantly responded to my calls and soon enough was below the window waiting
for a yummy morsel to engage in a deep conversation. Before I knew it, I was surrounded.
I tried to capture all 24—yes, I counted—beautiful birds in one shot, but that proved an impossible task. Unfortunately, after they realized the only thing I had to give them was trail mix that instantly sank to the river bottom after it cut through the surface of the water, they swam off in search of other unsuspecting and generous tourists.
After breakfast, we made our way into the town and everything seemed so familiar to me. I had never been to this quaint destination, but I felt like I had walked through the streets, cruised along the canals, and admired the buildings at a different time. It only took me a few minutes to understand why I felt this way: Strasbourg was like the real-life equivalent of Fantasyland in Disneyland.
There were ornate decorations, delicious confections, and a sense that we were walking through a fairy tale. Cinderella or Prince Charming could very well have been around every corner. I’m sure Walt Disney took a lot of inspiration from European places likes Strasbourg and it was exciting to think that he intended to bring a little bit of Europe to America.
Within the storybook setting, we were also deep in a winter wonderland with low temperatures and beautiful piles of snowflakes everywhere the eyes could see. Fun fact: my mother, who spent much of her childhood in Massachusetts, noticed the shapes of the snowflakes while we were in Strasbourg for the very first time. She had never really paid attention to them before, but you could hear the excitement in her voice when she exclaimed, “Look at the snow! It’s actually like a million tiny snowflakes!” It was a fun, hilarious moment and one I won’t be forgetting any time soon. I mean, it’s not as if it was her first time seeing snow.
We explored the Christmas markets, drinking glühwein, and buying souvenirs for our friends back home and new hats for us along the way.
Before long, it was time for our canal cruise. Like Amsterdam, Strasbourg has a series of canals that connect the town. Unlike in Amsterdam however, the canal boat’s heaters were alive and well and there were moments during the tour that the heat was lulling me into an afternoon nap. It was a good thing a friendly elbow jabbed me in the ribs whenever I started to nod off.