Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday September 11th - Strasbourg

I left my bike locked up in Obernai and caught the bus into Strasbourg at dawn.

I'd asked for two nights at the campsite to give me the opportunity to take a day off cycling and spend some time seeing what I considered to be one of the highlights of the trip. And so, hoping to get some nice early morning light in the city, I left the tent when it was still dark and crept away to the bus stop.

We arrived just after dawn - unfortunately my early light plans didn't work out as it turned into an very cloudy morning.

I bought a pain au chocolat and sat down in Place Kleber, watching a family of cute baby sparrows playing in one of the flower beds.

Place Kleber

I was still hungry after that so bought a pretzel. I'd never had a real pretzel before (i.e. bread, not the little snacky cracker things) and this was the beginning of a beautiful new relationship between me and my twisty salt-encrusted doughy little friends.

After a little wandering, I found the best bit - well, one of them anyway, the picturesque Petit France quarter consisting of stunning half timbered buildings overlooking the river.

Petit France

I bought some oil for the bike and spent an hour at an internet cafe, investigating train routes home and possible paths across the Black Forest.

After that I located the cathedral, an incredibly ornate building.

Strasbourg Cathedral

And beside it, the almost impossibly beautiful Maison Kammerzell.

Maison Kammerzell

Strasbourg is a popular cycling city and has plenty of lanes and parking facilities - my feet were sore from walking by the end of the day and I half wished I'd brought my bike into town, but it did make a nice change to have a day out of the saddle.

I picked up some horrendously coloured but very tasty macaroons from one of the many delicious looking patisseries...


... and then headed back to the campsite.

Back at the tent, I started to pay some attention to my bike. It had started squeaking over the last couple of days so clearly needed an oil... but upon examining the rear sprockets I realised how gunked up it really was. I spent a good couple of hours that evening scraping solid rubbery black gunk off the sprockets, chain and derailleurs and really wishing I'd bothered to clean it before leaving. The other thing I noticed was just how knackered the tyres were. The front was full of holes and the tread on the rear was almost non-existent. The last time I'd changed them was over three years ago, in Germany. I calculated that I'd ridden in eleven countries on those tyres, over unknown thousands of miles. I picked small stones out of the holes and planned to replace them when I got home.

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