Prayer @ Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

The clock went backward during the last weekend and I still haven’t finished writing about my summer holiday! I am so ashamed.

Believe me because I am feeling rather desperate and also disappointed by my slackness. Ohhh, I must find time and energy to resume chronicling the road trip! However, the longer I lay it off, the harder it becomes to get back to my former productive self. I am so depressed.

Anyhow, I have to restart it from somewhere, therefore, it goes like this…

——————–

My mum let out a deep sigh and her shoulders dropped when she checked the latest news in Japan through her iPod touch after we returned to our room at Hôtel Cathédrale from our tram trip. ‘Mao-chan died today.’ She looked visibly distressed while she scrolled the screen.

Mao Kobayashi, a.k.a Mao-chan was a Japanese broadcaster and also a wife of a famous Kabuki actor. She was battling with breast cancer and her days living through the ordeal was recorded in her blog.

I didn’t know much about her and her illness until the BBC featured her as one of the hundred women who influenced the society, 100 Women 2016.

Mum sat at the edge of the bed and uttered, ‘A poor woman. I wish if I could be in her place so her young children would have their mum.’ ‘Oh mum, I never wanna lose you! But I know what you mean…’ We both felt helpless and sad.

‘Let’s visit the cathedral, mum.’ I tapped on her shoulder.

We tried to visit the place one week ago, yet we didn’t in the end because the queue for the entry was too long. However this time, the queue was almost non-existent. It may have been due to the fact that the cathedral was to be closed for the day in twenty minutes time.

The first thing we did as we entered the cathedral was to buy a candle and pray for Mao-chan and her grieving family…

My knowledge about her was best described as sketchy, but her untimely tragic death did touch me.

Unlike her, we are very fortunate, mum and I agreed as we placed a flickering candle on the tray.

Time spent with one’s loved one. That was what she must have craved ardently yet it was cruelly snatched away from her. It must have been heartwrenching for her to realise that she would have to leave them behind.

I promised to mum that I would never ever bore mum or Hubbie with me moaning about lines on my face or freckles on my nose. Because I was so lucky to be alive and all the marks I bore on my body were evidence of my physical existence in this world.

Poor Mao-chan would have loved to have lots of laughter lines on her beautiful face and to grow old happy! For her sake, we must try to be grateful and enjoy everyday as it comes, mum and I put our hands together and prayed.

After dedicating a candle and prayer, we walked around the cathedral.

The inside of the enormous gothic structure was awe inspiring. Soaring walls were like a deep ravine and the nave in front of us was far and long…

Before the present cathedral was constructed between 1176 to 1439, there was a cathedral in a Romanesque style with three apses which was reputed to be decorated with gold and precious stones.

We wanted to explore this amazing place  longer but a church official started to herd up the visitors towards the exit, pointing at his wrist watch. Ok, ok, OK! We’ve got your message. We gingerly started to walk to the door.

Out of the darkness…

and into the light…

Now, we must find somewhere to have our last supper at Strasbourg…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tramway of Strasbourg

The history of the Strasbourg tramway started in 1878. The carriages, which traveled through the inner city, were horse-drawn at first, and the horses were replaced by electricity in 1894. While the city changed hands between France and Germany due to the consequences of two wars, the Franco-Prussian War and WWII, the original tram system served as a transport link for the inhabitants of the city.  However, the tram’s popularity waned in the 1950s as other modes of transport, such as buses, bicycles and cars, had become more readily available. And finally, the last tram departed on 1 May 1960, and there were no more of them until 1994.

Today’s tram system is very popular amongst the people of Strasbourg. It is hard to believe that it was abandoned for over three facades…

In 1994, the first tram line A, which connected the northwestern suburb of Hautepierre to the southwestern sunburn of Illkirch-Graffenstaden was opened…

Homme de Fer station for Line A & D…

By walking a little further towards Rue du Noyer, there is another Homme de Fer station for Line B, C & F…

The development of the tram system helped to revitalised the city centre as well as solved typical urban problems, such as pollution and congestion. And finally, the city authorities banned road traffic from the city centre in 1992.

Ok, that’s enough of the history lesson!

Now, mum and I have to find how to pay our fare…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Beer garden @ Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen

Before I start to write about our last German supper at their beer garden, let me fill you in with the history of this hotel. I still regret about not doing any homework before visiting this amazing place which resulted in me not allocating enough time to explore the hotel and its surrounding area.

Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen was mentioned by the chronicler Franz Xaver Staiger in 1863. He recorded that the placed was called the “Gasthaus zum Schwanen” and it was built in 1665 as a monastery guesthouse of the Cistercian monastery.

Reichsprallat Anselm II Schwab, one of the abbots of the monastery Salem who was portrayed in 1749 by Gottfried Bernhard Göz in front of the Imperial Eagle…

Once upon a time, it was a monastery wine tavern and pub, and now, the place is a restaurant with a beer garden for the locals and visitors…

The beer garden was half-filled with guests who seemed to be enjoying a long summer evening with a lively conversation and glasses of beer.

Mum and I sat ourselves down at one of the tables and ordered beer…

Ahhh, how much we loved German beer! They were well chilled and rich without being too bitter. A perfect accompaniment to alfresco dining.

The menu was brought by a waitress who spoke very limited English and their menu was described in German only. Hmm, what should we do? We looked around and found two diners nearby who were eating something looked tempting. ‘Let’s try what they have!’ I pointed at their table and gestured to the waitress. She, in turn, nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.

While mum and I waited for our food, we sipped our beer and reminisced about our road trip. ‘Can you believe this beer garden is the last German beer garden of our holiday?’ We couldn’t help getting sentimental.

Then, the foods were brought to our table…

Mum had “Gebratene Schweinefilletmedaillons an Pfefferrahmsoße mit Eierspätzle und einum gemischten Salatteller” – fried pork fillet medallions with pepper cream sauce with egg tender pasta and mixed salad dish. She wanted spätzle because there would be nothing like it in Japan.
My last German supper was “Maishähnchenbrust an Rosmarinrahmsoße mit Basmatireis und einum gemischten Salatteller” – corned chicken breast with rosemary cream sauce with basmati rice and mixed salad dish. I hadn’t had rice for a long time, therefore, I enjoyed it very much.

While we were dining, we saw more than a few cyclists riding out from the gate nearby and were very intrigued by it. Maybe we should investigate what is behind the gate after dinner, we discussed as we chewed through our food…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Exploring Reims 

We arrived at our first continental city, Reims, around 1pm. The journey on A26 was very smooth and we found the hotel without much trouble.

Our abode at Reims…

The only food we had so far was coffee and pastry at Folkestone, therefore, we were rather peckish. ‘Shall we find some grub?’ Mum and I hit the town centre of Reims.

At a statue we found on Place Drouet d’Erlon…

We sauntered Place Drouet d’Erlon towards north and decided to have lunch at Restaurant L’Edito. The thoroughfare was lined with various cafes and restaurants, and was reasonably crowded with the people who were enjoying sunny Friday afternoon. ‘Let’s sit outside and enjoy people-watching!’ So we sat at one of their table along the promenade.

Mum opted for seafood paella…

And I picked salad with roast chicken…

It was rather breezy and a little on the chilly side as the recent heatwave was yet to develop over Europe which made me regret about ordering a cold salad instead of hot food!

After lunch, we went to look for the famous cathedral of Reims.

We found a cute merry-go-around by a local church…

Mum’s knee seemed to be ok so we walked slowly towards Rue du Trésor from which we approached the cathedral.

The spire of the cathedral soaring towards the sky…

As a cathedral, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims is not as high profile internationally as namesakes in Paris and Strasbourg. However, the church is the place in which the very first king of the Franks, Clovis was baptised by Saint Remi in 498. Since then, 29 kings of France were crowned at the cathedral between 1027 and 1825.

Another famous character of the cathedral, Jeanne d’Arc…

This brave woman liberated the cathedral from the English and helped the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on the 17th July 1547.

The window of the Baptism was adorned with stained glass window created by Marc Chagall…

I was rather surprised by the relative newness of the stained glass windows. Having said that, France, especially northern France, went through lots of wars throughout their history, and therefore,  something as fragile as stained glass surviving from the medieval time without restoration or being replaced would be too unrealistic to expect.

A magnificent rose window above main doorway…

Having a last look of the nave…

The west side of the cathedral…

On our way back, we dropped in Monoprix nearby and bought some snack and water. I urged mum to rest her back as the longest drive of our road trip awaited the next day…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Twinkle on Kensington Church Street

Ouch! I poked my eye with my finger accidentally as I was hastely applying eyeshadow over my left eyelid. I knew nothing good would come out if things were done in a hurry. However, I was way behind the time and panicking! Ohhhh, I’m gonna be late!! I kept on muttering the same phrase over and over, like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. The appointment with my hairstylist was at 1pm, and I was running late. If I didn’t hit the pavement in 15 minutes, I wouldn’t be able make it on time. Of course, I could go with my face make-up free. But then I would have nothing else but my bare face to stare at in the mirror for a couple of hours. The thought of it made me shudder. Ugh…

Anyway, Bella and I were on Kensington Church Street last Thursday. The weather was exceptionally mild and pleasant, and we were in the mood for a long walk.

Kensington Church Street, which connects High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate, is well known for expensive antique shops. The thoroughfare is lined with shop windows in which one can gape at amazing treasures and relics from the past…

Ahhh, it’s like visiting V&A and British Museum…

My girl Bella was not into antique, apparently…

Cuddle me! Carry me! I’m not interested in old stuff.

Oh Bella, you’re so disrespectful.

She doesn’t give a damn, evidently.

Some shops didn’t weather the post-Brexit climate very well. I saw gutted shop interiors, and it made me sad…

Once upon a time, I used to come to the street three times a week in order to help out a shop which sold vintage prints. Being an art student, I was very good at cutting cardboards for framing, so I was in their basement studio, wielding a Stanley knife and sticking prints with special glue. During my lunch break, I usually sauntered towards Notting Hill Gate and gazed into the shop windows along the street. There were two particular shops I was fascinated with but never dared to enter.

They were Mrs Crick’s Chandelier Shop and Denton Antiques. Today, they are still very much in business and I am very happy for them!

The shop mistress of the print shop was a spinster and a tough taskmaster who was not into small talk. During our rare moment of chatting, I mentioned about how I was taken by the beauty of the chandeliers and my desire of owning one one day…

She looked at me with amazement at first and asked me if I knew how much they costed. Those shops never displayed any ticket so I had no idea how extraordinarily expensive they were.
‘I think you will change your mind if you are told how dearly just one crystal from those chandeliers costs.’ She left me very red faced.

She could have corrected my ignorance a little more kindly, I reflected on as I gazed at the crystals…

I used to wonder who would buy such an opulent light fixture like this for their home. Industry tycoons? Arab royalties? The crystals twinkled behind the window pane right in front of me. But the monetary distance between us seemed to be a light year away.

Now decades later, I live in a flat with ceiling height high enough to hang a proper chandelier. Do I fancy one now? I look around and ponder. Probably not. Our decor won’t go with it, and Hubbie will never agree to have one as he hates any period style older than the 50’s.

By the way, another fixture of Kensington Church Street is The Churchill Arms

I love this pub. They are one of those old-fashioned English pubs with great decor. They also serve delicious Thai food and welcome dogs – very important!

Ok, Bella. Our next destination is Kensington Gardens. Allons-y!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Blog at WordPress.com.