Monday, September 11, 2006

Notre Dame

So I was thinking that I was going shopping on Saturday, but plans fell through, so I went out by myself on a beautiful sunny afternoon. I walked downtown through a small antique/flea market that was really cute and had some nice dishes and jewelry. If only I had my own home to furnish!
Then I got to the Cathedral, capital C, in the middle of town. Notre Dame de Strasbourg. I thought, “What a nice sunny day, perfect for viewing stained glass. I should go inside.” And inside I went.
First of all, it’s enormous, and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It was built between 1015 and 1439, over the foundations of a roman sanctuary, and was from 1625 to 1847 the world’s tallest building. It is one of the best examples of high gothic art I’ve ever seen. It is built of pink sandstone and has an astronomical clock inside that features animated figures and could calculate the date of Easter before computers existed.

But it’s all about being inside. The vaulting is incredibly high. The windows throw little specks of red and blue onto the pink stone. The little private shrines along the sides are filled with large, richly decorated altars. The pulpit is intricately carved with figures and a cute little dog (who also peeks out from under a figure on the outside of the church).
It was beautiful. I walked down the side aisles, and up to the altar. Then I sat for a while. It wasn’t quiet; there were lot of other tourists, mostly Germans, but it was calming. I sat and looked at the decorations and the people and just kind of enjoyed my opportunity to be there. I breathed old, damp, smells-like-the-feet-of-hundreds-of-years-of-pilgrims air. There was a small organ playing somewhere in the back, or it may have been a recording they play to set the mood. It was good to be able to think quietly and calmly after a week of being hit in the face with French for 7 hours a day. I felt better as I left without buying a souvenir.

Yesterday was quiet. I woke up late and went to the Parc de L’Orangerie and read. Jason caught up with me, and it was nice to have company. We chatted, thought about buying some of “the best ice cream in Strasbourg” but didn’t, then I walked home. It was a nice day, not too hot but very comfortable in the sun.
Paris soon, then maybe Germany and a little bit of Jost? I feel like I’m really fitting in with my family, as not quite a member, but definitely a participant in conversation, which is very satisfying. Time to take a mini shower, i.e. sitting in the tub for only 5 minutes and with a hand held shower head. Au revoir


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