As an Interior Design exchange student I didn’t have a lot of time for solo travelling during the study semester. I was on campus on most days of the week, listening to class lectures in German and English, and each day I would take the bus home with all my groceries and books, cook myself a simple dinner (usually pasta!) and do my homework or prepare for tests or assessments.
Thankfully during the semester the university would organise some really great, inexpensive day trips or overnight stays in neighbouring countries to encourage networking and broadening of our minds. It was so exciting to just forget about the overflowing workload on my desk and explore a new place, clear my head, indulge in photography, and try a new cuisine and a new culture. We’d all get on a bus and go on excursions to places such as design exhibitions in small Belgian towns, or the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein near the Swiss border with Germany or for one of our assessments we’d get involved in the design of our very own exhibition stand at the International Furniture Fair in Cologne, a short train ride away from my university in Mainz. All these experiences were amazing and gave students a deeper understanding of interior design and architecture practices in the real world.
I began to eagerly plan my own solo trips once the semester ended. I had an insane amount of wanderlust and yearned to see more and more countries around me. So I bought a train ticket from the station, organised a hotel for two nights and ended up in the most picture-perfect French city known as Strasbourg.
Much to my dismay, not everything went smoothly. For starters it was raining and it was a Saturday morning in winter and that made getting out of bed hard and getting to the train station even harder as buses were scarce. Somehow I managed though and a few train changes later I was no longer in Germany, but now in France.
Strasbourg was a very empty city that February. I had seen images of its main square so alive during Christmas time and I’d also seen the flowers blooming in gorgeous half-timbered cottage windows in summer, but unfortunately that winter it was just that little bit quieter and colder! If it hadn’t been for the university program organising a tour to Strasbourg that I missed due to my study load, I probably would never have even thought of visiting this magnificently enchanting city but I was really eager to see what my classmates got to experience. Sometimes that’s all the inspiration we need to see a new place!
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region in France and lies near the border with Germany. It is home to the European Parliament with its ultra modern façade, and was once also home to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing, who was ironically born in Mainz! An entire square called Place Gutenberg is dedicated to him and a statue stands there in his honour. The elaborate gothic red sandstone Strasbourg Cathedral is located at the heart of the city and is one of the main attractions for visitors. My favourite place to explore was Petite-France, where the river Ill splits up into a number of canals and stunning half-timbered medieval houses provide the most romantic of backdrops. Strasbourg was indeed the most brilliant of destinations for a weekend away and in my opinion it’s a little gem of a city that needs to be seen in all its glory, no matter the season.