Ghent- Brussels-Luxembourg City-Strasbourg:
Suffice to say, our ‘grown up’ car did NOT disappoint, particularly as- having found out our excessive plans for the vehicle- Sixt were kind enough to give us a cheeky upgrade:
Though it has to be said, getting it was definitely a palaver. We’d organised to collect it from Brussels airport, and had booked somewhere secure to park the car in the meantime. Of course, you’ve heard about our excess luggage, so we needed to park the cars relatively close together if we were to stand any chance of transferring our load.
We must have driven around Zaventem airport’s excessive one-way system at least four times. Of course: this was an airport! They were expecting the people hiring cars from them NOT to already have a car AND to have arrived by plane. Therefore, there was zero parking for the Matiz and we needed to sort out the paperwork upstairs in the main body of the airport. On our final circle, we decided to dump our current car in one of the return car bays and go and ask for help: I stayed with the car (though given the slight disadvantage of not knowing how to drive, I’m not sure what use I would have been had someone wanted or needed to park there!).
Thankfully we eventually made the exchange, lugged our belongings between cars, and dropped off the Matiz (along with- unbeknownst to us at this point- Adam’s only pair of trainers…) and were on the road again, in our MUCH more spacious and luxurious carriage.
Having made a slower than anticipated start due to the problematic exchange of vehicles, we were finally on our way again and aiming to have a quick pit-stop in Luxemburg City, akin to the one we’d made in Dunkirk the day before. We had, however, managed to overlook a few key points:
- We now had a car about three-times bigger than our previous one,
- Luxembourg City, unlike Dunkirk (and you’d have thought we’d have noticed from the name!), is- in fact- a city! A capital city. The capital city of a teeny tiny country, but a capital city none-the-less.
- Luxembourg City had decided to schedule a world-record attempt for most building and road works in the smallest surface area.
- Neither the drivers, nor pedestrians of Luxembourg City give a single solitary shit about anything. If it hadn’t been for a VERY kind-hearted white-van-man taking pity on us and letting us out through the tirade of traffic, I genuinely think we might still be sat in that jam! I thought the British politeness/queueing myth was just that: a myth. Or at best a cliché. Not in this case!
To say Will was on the verge of a breakdown would be… well hyperbole, but a fairly accurate bit of exaggeration non-the-less. It also wouldn’t be the last time, nor the closest he’d get on this trip. Not by a LONG shot.
Strasbourg was another slightly difficult city to manoeuvre by car, especially as there are a number of one-way systems, a number of multi-lane/tram roads (as you an see in the pics below), and we needed to go and check in to our accommodation before we were able to park up in our pre-booked parking. We soon got by though and were able to park up in the secure car-park behind the Apart City building and explore the ‘luxury’ of having two apartment rooms, fully kitted out with two double beds, as opposed to the previous two nights where we’d had only the one bed between three of us!
After a shower, we were ready to hit the streets and again, found ourselves in a perfectly sized city for the trip: we did a lot of walking and fit a lot in- mainly the beautiful architecture and sights, but it was a small enough place that we didn’t feel that we were missing out too terribly by heading off again the next morning. Again, that’s not to say we wouldn’t have been perfectly happy to stay for longer either, but this wasn’t that sort of trip :).
Heading out from the apartment, we quickly came to the river and this beautiful bridge that we were able to walk over and take in the sights of the quaint architecture before entering Old Town and getting to see it up close. It’s amazing how distinctly different two cities in such close proximity can look.
Using the looming Strasbourg Cathedral as our compass, we headed through the local area and enjoyed a beer under the monument. We did look to eat, but as such a central hub of the metropolis, as well as the stunning view, it was fairly expensive around there.
After much more walking, failed trip-advisor-ing, and closed restaurants, we finally decided to retrace our steps back to the old town and managed to squeeze in to ‘Au Pont St Martin’: a gorgeous French restaurant overlooking the river. Unfortunately we were unable to get a table on the indoor terrace, but we somehow ended up with an even better vantage point for sunset:
The food was beautifully cooked and of a great quality (and as you can see, the view was dreamy), but the service was what made this place really stand out for me. The waitress was fantastic and really made our meal special, to the point that we got a photo with her at the end- if anyone at ‘Au Pont St Martin’ sees this, I hope she gets some extra credit! The reviews on Trip Advisor seem really mixed, and at only a three star average rating, I wonder whether we ate at the same place?! I’m not a massive fan of meat, but the steak I ate there was superb, the onion soup was flawless and the chocolate tart was perfect too. I’d definitely recommend it.
Overall, the city was a beautiful stop-off on our trip and Strasbourg is definitely somewhere I’d be happy to visit again! Our accommodation, Apart City, which I haven’t really mentioned, was basic but perfect for our stay- again a convenient location in easy walking distance of all the sights, clean and comfortable (aside from the strangely square pillows :s).