Of all of the trips that I’ve taken, I think this one is probably one of my favourites.
To start with, it was my first proper trip to France. Arguably, I’ve been before, but that was when I was very small and apparently all we did was stop at a petrol station on the way to Barcelona. So despite my dad’s insistence, it doesn’t quite count in my opinion.
So, when a friend suggested that we take a course that included a trip to Strasbourg, I jumped at the chance. Never mind that the fact that it was a) a law course, something neither of us knew anything about, and b) it was entirely in English so it didn’t count for my transcript. Still, it was a (mostly) free trip, so I was happy to spend my time slightly confused if all else failed.
The trip there was mildly chaotic. Frankly, there is no quick and easy way to get to Strasbourg. It required us all to set off at midnight the day before we were due to arrive, catching the Flixbus from Graz Webling and settling in for the eight-hour drive all the way across the Alps to Stuttgart Airport. While most people slept, I did not. Doesn’t matter how tired I am, the most I can submit myself to is a half an hour long cat nap. None of us were particularly fresh when we had to get off in Stuttgart and wait for our next bus, but it turned out that a quick McDonald’s was enough to liven us up for the next leg of the journey.
We got into Strasbourg like an hour later than we planned, because the driver seemingly missed the turn-off for the border and took us around some Schwarzwalder villages for an hour-long tour. No complaints about that in all honesty, but we were all glad to reach Strasbourg. Then it was time to head to our accommodation near the EU and European Council buildings. I was pretty impressed by the facilities, our rooms were super comfortable and the view..? Spectacular.
We were incredibly blessed with the good weather, so after a quick nap, we headed into the city to explore with the rest of the day free. We were a pretty large group, so we splintered off to go find food and then regrouped later for dinner, something that took us ages to organise, but we finally managed it.
The next two days, we got to tour the European Parliament, European Council, and European Court of Human Rights. It was an amazing experience and it really made me proud to be a European citizen. Having spent most of my life living in the UK and having weathered the storm that is Brexit, I think that everyone should have this experience. I think that barely anyone understands how central the EU is to democracy in Europe and just how important it is.
After our last tour, we had more free time, so we decided to take a boat tour and wander around the city for a little longer. The weather was amazing and we had so much fun. Strasbourg really is a stunning place and it’s so interesting to see French and Germanic culture standing side by side.
Finally, it was time to head home. I booked my return to Graz pretty late, because I decided to take a detour via Munich, one of my favourite cities, in order to avoid twelve hours straight on a bus. Best idea ever. I had the entire day to myself to explore, to eat and drink and visit what I wanted to before I caught the bus back to Graz the next day.