The next leg of our trip took us a bit out of my comfort zone, but it all went well. My brother and SIL were taking her class of college kids to Stasbourg, which is on the German/France border. We were invited to go, too. Being that we were on vacation we were a bit slow in deciding to go along. When we finally said yes, the train was booked and so was the hotel. No problema. We could take a different train and stay at a nearby hotel. It was the train that was a bit scary. The student's train was a direct/no-stop train. The train that Toby and I took went to Paris and then we had to get off one train, take the Metro to another station, and get on a different train to Strasbourg. We actually managed it without a hitch, but it was uncomfortable trying to work our way through the Metro and then the train station. I had forgotten most of my previous knowledge of how to work the Metro, so we stopped at one of the info desks to ask. The man sold us tickets, but whatever he said on which line to take was totally not understandable. I did finally catch the number 4 in his French. Yay! We took the line 4 and did well. Once at the new station, we had to catch the train. It was here that the train folk said our luggage was too big and we needed to pay 20 Euros for each bag. Toby took up the train guy's time switching luggage around to get one bag smaller. So we only had to pay for one bag. It was all just a hullaballoo. Our luggage had been the same on all trains and there was plenty of room on the trains. In fact, we usually check our luggage on planes, but I saw lots of people whose luggage was larger than ours carrying their luggage on the planes. I guess the real trick here was to pay earlier for large luggage, which we did for the planes. We had heard that some airlines will at the last minute charge you lots for luggage, but if you pay the fee early, you will save yourself time and money. We did not get that message for the train. I still think it was just a scam.
Anyway, we made it safely to Strasbourg and checked into our hotel. Once there, we went into the city center in search of a bank to exchange money. We got to the bank just as they were closing. Being French, they don't stay a minute longer or help anyone out. It was not really a problem - we had enough Euros and most places take credit cards. So we found our way to the main plaza in front of the church - found a great table in the shade and had a big beer. Toby complained that I took and posted too many pics of him sitting and drinking beer. But hey, that is what we did often. We managed to find my brother and SIL who were just around the corner having a beer themselves.
We joined the college kids for a boat ride around the city which is surrounded by rivers and canals. It was fun, but I nearly fell asleep on the boat - must have been the swaying of the boat the the voice of the guide. After the boat ride, we made our way to a beer store - of course! The beer store guy gave us the name of a great restaurant with authentic German/French cuisine. We had some good food including pig knuckles. We stayed out late walking around the city center and enjoying the sites - and beer.
The next day we joined the students on a tour of the church - Notre Dame de Strasbourg. It was pretty awesome. We had time for lunch and shopping before we met back up with the students for the next tour. We went to a kitchen store where they made these wonderful ceramic pieces. We bought a bread pan for the GGs.
The next tour was of the only concentration camp in France - Struthof. This part of the tour was sobering, and yet, very beautiful. We got back to the city center in time for supper. Although the supper was really good, our waitress was a bit of a soup Nazi - making us do everything the French way. Then one of the other waitresses was extremely rude - I wanted to let her know her behavior was unacceptable, but in France, you don't necessarily tip and the unions make it impossible to fire someone. So I was quiet. Still, I think she needed to be enlightened :)
The next morning Toby and I got up early to catch a train to Paris. This was the last leg before we headed home.