Early this morning, we docked in Strasbourg, France, where we joined a local guide for a tour by streetcar, traveling along the city's famed canals. The capital of the Alsace region of France, melds the charm of half-timbered houses with the cozy warmth of a Parisian cafe. The result: an extremely inviting and unique city that is equal parts German and French. Strategically important since ancient times, Strasbourg became a free imperial city of the German Empire in 1262, and then was occupied by France in 1681 and again by Germany in 1871. France recovered the city in 1919 after WWI.
You'll see pictures of the beautiful Strasbourg Cathedral. It is regarded as one of the finest of Europe's great Gothic cathedrals, the structure's lofty single spire dominates the city.
Then, we boarded our bus for a short drive to the European Union Parliamentary Building. Once a city torn between German and France influences, Strasbourg's rebirth as a place of cooperation between European countries is apparent in the placement of the Parliament in Strasbourg. Another Parliament Building is in Brussels, Belgium and they alternate between the two places. The EU administration and financial center is in Luxembourg. The whole system is very complicated but it seems to be working for the Europeans.
Today is my 72nd birthday and Grand Circle celebrated it in a worthy manner. After dinner, the whole crew assembled in a congo line, carrying my birthday cake, singing and winding their way through the entire dining room. They then came to my table and presented me the cake with a big sparkler in it. Kisses and hugs came from all around. Very special!