Strasbourg Study Abroad Program
Strasbourg is perfectly located for weekend travel. It is minutes from Germany; 90-minute train ride from Switzerland and a 2.5-hour train ride from Paris.
The best way to travel in Europe is often the Eurail. This can be a fairly inexpensive and easy way to travel. According to the Eurail website individuals can, “Explore Europe by train in up to 24 countries with the Eurail pass and choose from thousands of fascinating destinations to visit. Pick the type of train that best fits your travel plans and get where you want to go, by day or night. Travel quickly and in comfort from one exciting destination to the next while you watch inspiring scenery pass by.”
- For train travel, click here. The site gives you the entire train schedule for Western European travel. Simply pick your destination and arrival cities and the site notifies you of travel times, connections, and sometimes even specific track numbers. Print out, ahead of time, the schedule for trips you may want to make, and bring them along.
It is also possible to find inexpensive flights to and from European cities. Start with Ryanair.com then continue to check other airline websites.
Another option is to rent a car for closer destinations. While most rental car companies require drivers to be 25 years old, ABA members get discounts and can sometimes rent cars even if he or she is not 25. Check both the ABA each of the rental company websites for their specific policies and do not forget to bring your ABA card with you!
SOME SUGGESTED LOCATIONS...
- Strasbourg. It is a beautiful, historically and culturally significant city in its own right. Take a weekend and spend it looking through the Cathedral , museums and other churches. Obtaining a Strasbourg Pass at the Tourist Information center is recommended. For just over $15 you get free admittance to one museum, an organ concert at the Cathedral, the Cathedral platform and a boat tour around the city. You also get reduced prices for other visits.
- Paris. A 4-hour train ride takes you to Gare l'est on the northeast side of the city. A must-see. If you go on one of the 3-day weekends, consider buying the Carte Musee (Paris Museum Pass). You can pick this up at any of the major museums for just over $40 for a 2 day pass. With it you have free and quick access to all of the major museums and the Palace at Versailles. Also, there are the Orsay and Orangerie art museums. Both are fantastic (for Impressionism fans, check out the bottom floor at Orangerie - there are 2 oval rooms where you are literally surrounded by Monet's "Waterlilies.") Make sure to go up into the Eiffel Tower. It is incredible at night, but beware the subway system closes before the Eiffel Tower. You pay a different price depending on how high you want to go (the second level gives a wonderful view of the city). If you can, take a regional train (the RER) to Versailles - just a few kilometers away. There you find the ultimate in royal opulence in the palace Louis XIV built. For getting around Paris, take the Metro (Paris' subway system). It is much like D.C.'s and runs often and efficiently. The Hotel du Robaix is a good choice for accommodations. It is clean, reasonable (though certainly not fancy) and well-located within a block of a metro stop. A breakfast of French bread, coffee, tea, or cocoa was included.
- Calmar. About 40 miles south of Strasbourg. A highlight is the Unterlinden Museum containing a breathtaking altarpiece by Northern Renaissance painter Matthias Grunewald (check out the prints in Dean Brauch's office). The city is also known for its historic district built on a canal known as "La Petite Venise."
- Route du Vin (the Wine Road). A road extending south of Strasbourg through scenic vineyards and medieval towns (particularly famous are Riquewihr and Kaysersberg). You will see some of this area on our sightseeing trip.
- Verdun, France. Tour perhaps the most famous WWI trench warfare battlefield. It is said that each side lost 400,000 men here.
- Normandy. A must see! Normandy is about a 5 hour train ride from Strasbourg. It is a good idea to find a hotel in one of the smaller cities right outside of Normandy to save money. You will have to rent a car once you are there, but it is the best way to see all the beaches and the American Cemetery. Mont Saint Michel, one of the oldest monasteries in France, is about an hour drive from Normandy and is worth taking at least half a day to go see.
- Kehl. There’s a city within biking distance. It is a small town with little stores/ a little shopping area. The ride itself is around 4mi. You can go through the streets of Strasbourg, take the bridge to the North, and once you get into Kehl ride along the river. Or you can go through the streets of Strasbourg, but take the bride to the South, and once you get to Kehl you will see the signs for a scenic bike trail. Simply follow the signs that have a bike on it with gold stars for tires. Along that bike trail is a World War II memorial which provides a picture taking opportunity. This is a great afternoon trip and costs very little! Map
- Trier. This city in the southwest of Germany is a 3-hour train trip from Strasbourg. The city claims it is the oldest in Germany. It was a capital in the Roman Empire and still has a gate, a church and baths dating from Roman times. You can see where Emperor Constantine held court. The city also has a gorgeous medieval cathedral, a beautiful open-air marketplace, the home of Karl Marx and Birkenstocks for under $40. Consider staying at the Catholic Church-run Kolpinghaus Warsberger Hof (a clean and inexpensive dorm with 2 to 6 person rooms). An extremely substantial breakfast is included in the reasonable price. Phone: 0651/975-250.
- Rhine River Area. The Rhine River between Mainz and Koblenz is both beautiful and historic. Mainz is 2-1/2 hours away by train. The steep banks of the river are covered with vineyards and castles. For most of the period of the Holy Roman Empire, no single leader could centralize control over Germany. Instead, there were lots of barons controlling their own little area. They each built their own castle for protection. From Bacharach to Bingen, there is one castle after another along the rive . Consider taking a boat ride up or down the Rhine for a great glimpse of the past. If you have a Eurail pass, the ride on the K-D boat line is free.
- Rothenburg. This town is preserved as a 13th century medieval walled city. Fantastic! Law students need to check out the Crime and Punishment museum. The museum contains important medieval legal documents - but more interesting is the incredible array of medieval punishment (including torture) devices. Renting a car for this trip is a good idea as there may be no direct route from Strasbourg. Be sure to check current train schedules online!
- Baden Baden, Germany. Several students recommend this 19th Century spa resort. It is only a 45-minute train trip from Strasbourg toward the Black Forest.
- Black Forest, Germany. Recommended as "relatively close, and fairly inexpensive." The area is known for beautiful scenery and the cuckoo clock. Look for the train schedule as the bus ride takes ALL day.
- Heidelberg, Germany. A famous German university town with its own historical area and castle. Check the schedule for the fireworks display and concert/play performances.
- Bassel/ Bale. It is only a 1- 2 hour train trip away. Great walking tours of the city. Some very impressive churches. Beautiful view of the Rhine River. If you come prepared and it is hot enough outside, you can actually float down the Rhine from one designated place to another. Beautiful architecture. Art museum which has different visiting exhibits. The visitor’s center is in the train station, so acquiring a map and speaking with an English speaker about where to go in the city is very easy to do. There is a guided walking tour of the city that tourists can pay to take. The map of the city clearly lays out the self-guided walking tours which are free and make it just as easy to see the sights. This city can be done in one day, so it is perfect if you just want to do something one day out of your weekend. Map
- Interlaken. A four-hour train ride away, Interlaken lies between 2 of the most aqua lakes in the world and at the base of 10-12,000 foot mountains. It is a good base of operations for trips into the mountains by train or gondola. When the view was clear, it was spectacular. Be prepared: Switzerland is expensive!
- Luzerne, Switzerland. Students recommended a boat trip to Mt. Pilatus (free with a Eurail pass) as well as a train trip to the top. They reported that the area is expensive but recommended the Hotel Gutsch for those who can share a room in a group of 3 or 4. Luzerne is about 4 hours from Strasbourg by train.
- Geneva, Switzerland. 3 hours south by train. John Calvin's Reformation home. Today it is a cosmopolitan city that is home to many United Nations agencies.
The train ride is about two hours and there is a lot to do there!
Suggestions for the more ambitious travelers:
- London, England. Only a 7-hour trip by train (taking you through the Chunnel). If you don't know about London ... who are you and where are you from?
- Florence, Venice, Milan and Pisa; Italy. Several students enjoyed this trip by taking a night train.
- Prague, Czech Republic. Called "The Gem of Europe", this city is filled with gorgeous architecture, highlighted by the St. Charles Bridge , which leads to the main shopping district, famous for garnet, silver, and crystal. The Castle and Cathedral overlook the city of red-topped buildings. No need to speak Czech, pretty much everyone speaks English. They take the Euro, but will give you change in the Kurona ("corown"). A well-run underground and bus system can get you around the city easily, so no need to say in the center of town. Best to travel here by overnight train.
- Salzburg, Austria. Home of Mozart and The Sound of Music. This city is about a 7 hour train ride from Strasbourg. The city is divided into the old and new districts by a river. Overlooking the city is the Salzburg Castle/Fortress. The "Original Sound of Music Tour" is not to be missed. It takes half the day and will shuttle you to all of the major Sound of Music attractions and take you outside the city to the beautiful countryside. The tour leaves you at the gorgeous Mirabell Gardens. Take a 20 minute bus ride from the center of the city to the Untersberg Mountain (The "Do-Re-Mi" song was filmed here!). A cable car will take you to the summit where you can bring lunch and enjoy hiking around the mountain top.
- Pamplona, Spain. The Running of the Bulls happens in Pamplona during the Strasbourg program. This event is internationally prominent and happens from July 6 to July 14 every year. Therefore the city of Barcelona is usually packed. If this is something you want to do, make sure to book your hotels and your train reservations early. For more information about this festival, click here.
- The group of students who went Summer 2009 rented a car and drove. The drive was expected to be 8 hours but because of traffic associated with the Running of The Bulls event, it was actually 12 hours. The students who went did not actually stay in Pamplona, but in San Sebastian. They loved the beautiful beaches and quieter atmosphere found there. If you're looking for beautiful beaches, San Sebastian is not that far from Pamplona and has beautiful beaches for relaxing after the race is done. Map of Pamplona
- Map of San Sebastian