Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Wednesday, April 24, 2019 15:47:23|
France,Germany 2019: 5 - Eguisheim to Strasbourg, France and home
Monday, August 19, 2019
First thing in the morning we called Expedia to tell them we could not reach anyone at the number they gave us for the apartment tonight in Strasbourg. They tried and also got no answer. After several attempts we had no choice but to carry on. After breakfast in the room we followed the GPS directions to Strasbourg in bright sunshine. The weather has turned warm with 24 to 25 C days – jackets are no longer needed.
The apartment we rented through Expedia had special instruction, "There is no front desk at this property. The check-in location differs from the property location. To check in, go to 17 RUE DU FAUBOURG NATION". The GPS got us to that location with little trouble. There was no parking, so we pulled onto the sidewalk, expecting to be only a few minutes. First there was trouble finding the address, but with the help of local people we found it. It had a small clothing repair shop with a sign saying closed for 3 days (It is Easter weekend, and this is Good Friday). There was also a call box with buzzers for 9 apartments, none of whom answered.
One of the places we had asked for help was a bar down a small alley from where we had our car, so we returned there following one of my life long theories that when everything seems hopeless, have a beer. I did – a large one, and Marilynn had wine and used Skype on her phone to contact Expedia, who again tried unsuccessfully to contact the number they had for the apartment. We were back and forth with Expedia over the course of the next several beer, with one of us going frequently to see if our car had been towed away yet – we hoped they didn't do that on Good Friday. Eventually Expedia also gave up and said they would cancel the reservation, and told us to make another one.
We found the Best Western Monopol not too far away, however it was only available for one night. As it was now late afternoon we had lost the day and there was nothing available in the city for the next two nights we booked the hotel Champ'Alsace for our last two nights in the town of Haguenau, about 65 km away.
It turned out the Best Western Monopol was very nice, and in a good location. We walked the area right to the edge of the old city stopping for drinks and food as we went along. I made a final call to Expedia to say I had received their cancellation notification, but that it said there was a cancellation penalty of 550.15 euros or $829.82 Canadian – the agreement said the reservation could not be cancelled without penalty but it was Expedia who cancelled it. I finally worked my way up through layers of management until I reached someone with authority. He went and talked to his boss, and word came back that they had not taken the hotel cost from my bank account, and would not be doing so, and for our trouble they credit my account with $US 50.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
We checked out of the hotel in the morning, and found that the discount they promised us in the parking garage a few blocks away worked super well – the parking machine came up with "no charge". It was a bit like an early morning lottery win!! We drove back to the hotel, getting lost only once, and pickup up our luggage before driving into the old city and lucking into a parking spot in the first area we came to. A self appointed parking guard helped us into the tight space, then showed us how to use the parking ticket machine.
We set out to explore as much of the old city as we could in the two hours the parking allowed. It is worth seeing – the huge cathedral is spectacular, but the crowds were huge. We'd hoped to take a river cruise around the city but the lines were longer than we had time for. Restaurants were full for lunch, but we got a drink at a couple. Fortunately we had some pate with cheese and crackers before leaving the room.
When we returned to the car our parking fellow was still standing on guard. He was an immigrant from one of the Arab countries. I gave him a well deserved tip and we headed off to see some of the old town where cars are permitted. There are long, wide shopping streets and a lot of historic buildings, but the one way system turned us around and headed us back across the river and out of the old town. Marilynn, who has figured out the GPS system well, plugged in the co-ordinates for Haguenau and we were soon on the freeway out of Strasbourg.
We found our hotel without incident, and also found that they weren't kidding about the 4 to 7 PM check in time – the door was locked. The people next door said our car would be OK on the street where we left it, so we walked into the nearby old town which is decorated up for Easter. Here all the towns take decorating for Easter as serious as we do for Christmas. Many businesses, houses and the city are full of bunnies and eggs. There were big old churches, blossoming flower beds and many old buildings. It seems you can't go far wrong with any of the Alsace towns.
In one of the squares we went into a restaurant for lunch, but found they opened only from 12 to 2 and we were a bit late. They did, however serve drinks. We sat at a window table inside, as the seats in the sun are too hot now, and watched a ceremony with the fire brigade. They had all the men in their shiny silver helmets and officers in uniform, plus a brass band, doing some sort of ceremony.
Back at the hotel we found a young lady holding down the fort on her own over the weekend. She got us checked in to a nice room, and when Marilynn asked if we could leave one of the bottles of wine we had purchased from a winery in the restaurant fridge, she went to another room where there was an empty mini-bar fridge and brought it to our room – no charge. The wine was soon cooling.
Marilynn looked up the best restaurants in town and made a dinner booking at one. The food was good, but not up to the level we had elsewhere in Alsace. Back at the room we had a couple of superb wine night caps before turning in.
Sunday, April 21, 2019
After eating the remains of our cheese and crackers, accompanied by wine, we headed off to explore. I decided on a new route and managed to get us totally lost in a more modern part of the city. Eventually, after asking directions a few time we got back to the old city which this Easter Sunday morning was almost deserted. We returned to the hotel to catch up on writing and to have a siesta before walking back into town where we had a reservation at a recommended restaurant. I really have over eaten on this trip, and my stomach was saying "no more". The best I could manage was to pick at a scampi salad, and Marilynn only get through half of her cordon bleu.
Monday, April 22, 2019
We had the hotel breakfast, and as always the staff were bubbly and helpful. We reached Avis to return the car by 9:30 AM, well ahead of our noon bus reservation. As before, the people were great. I was to bring the car back full of gas so we filled up in Hagenau. We didn't see another gas station, so returned it a bit low- the fellow said no problem, never looked at the car at all other than to get the mileage. We wandered around the central train station killing time, stopping at Burger King for my only hamburger this trip.
The bus arrived right on time, and delivered us on schedule to the Frankfurt Airport. While on the bus we drank our last bottle of Rosacker Pinot Gris Grand Cru, not a wine designed to be served in plastic water glasses, but it tasted great anyhow. It took time to find the shuttle bus area, and after a long wait the driver from Moxie Hotel approached us offering to drop us near our hotel for a tip. We accepted and were dropped a block from the Meininger Hotel Airport. Originally I was under the impression the hotel was in the airport, but not so. The desk clerk spoke perfect English and soon had us in our 7th floor room with a great view of the construction next door. The rooms are tiny and basic, but clean and have a few of the essentials.
There is a lounge with a limited menu but decent prices. We had three orders of German sausage between us – each consisted of a bun, two sausages and a dill pickle. I took the opportunity to down some German beer while Marilynn stayed with the wine.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
After a near sleepless night in the hot room that neither of us could figure out how to cool down we readied ourselves for the 7:20 AM shuttle to the airport. Unlike most hotels, here one must pay to use the shuttle. In the Air Canada lounge I had my first bacon, eggs, beans and pancake breakfast since we arrived. The flight was on a 787-8 Dreamliner again, and as before was incredibly comfortable with an excellent crew looking after our every need. I caught up on some sleep in the comfortable bed while Marilynn watched three movies back to back.
As instructed we phoned the Quality Inn Hotel to pick us up on arrival. The airport information desk had free telephones for anyone needing one, a welcome but unusual service for an airport. The Montreal airport is very well done, but is very heavy on the security. Our Nexus card got us around the immigration and customs lines – we were sent straight through. The shuttle arrived for us about 25 minutes after we called.
The hotel stored our baggage in their meeting room, a it was just after noon that we arrived. We took a taxi to downtown Montreal as Marilynn wanted to do some shopping. After visiting shops and department stores over a 7 block distance up St. Catherine Street she had still not bought anything and I was getting grumpy, so we went into a nice brew pub for a drink, that turned into several. The walk was longer than it would normally be, as the street has been torn up for an expanded subway system, and it was necessary to go up one side of each cross street for half a block and back down the other side to get around the construction. It seemed like most of the city was being renovated, including many buildings – a major spring cleaning.
Feeling much better we then decided to see if there was any good places to eat towards the river, so walked for another 10 blocks or so down hill. By then my legs were giving out, so into another pub, where staff recommended a restaurant a couple of more blocks down Peel Street. The dinner was OK but not great, and another bottle of wine went down with it. The restaurant people saw us to a taxi after dinner for the trip back to the hotel.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
The hotel laid on a shuttle for another woman and us at 5:30 AM for our fight to San Jose. Check in was quick and painless, but when we got to security they wanted to confiscate the cans of very excellent Alsace foie gras the Marilynn bought for well over $100. The very strict German security found no problem with them but there was nothing for it but to check our carry on suitcases with the fois gras inside. Back at security they tore Marilynn's back pack apart because of some spices she had, but they eventually gave in and let her keep them.
While I was waiting for Marilynn, Pierre and Johanne, our friends from Sherbrooke Quebec, came over to chat for awhile. They are on the same flight and will be staying with us while doing some business in Costa Rica. When Marilynn got through we headed for the lounge for a good breakfast before boarding the 767 for home. We sure missed the deluxe layout in the 787, but Air Canada Rouge is a completely separate airline than regular Air Canada and specializes in low cost charters and shorter runs like the 5 hr 20 minute trip to Costa Rica from both Montreal and Toronto. The crew were good, though.
We always call Carlos, our caretaker, to pick us up at the airport when we arrive, but Marilynn had lost her Costa Rica SIM card. The line up to buy another one was prohibitive, so she borrowed a phone from an employee in the duty free shop to call, ending a great trip well.
Our next trip at the end of June is to Ireland, England and Tanzania for the Great Migration of animals.