Wednesday 21 August 2019

Koblenz to Strasbourg

After last night's debacle at the hotel in Koblenz you'll be pleased to know that I've booked us in to Le Jean-Sebastien Bach in Strasbourg for the next couple of nights. We should be there for lunch. Or would have been if all the trains weren't running up to half an hour late, the connections disconnected and the wheels hadn't fallen off the Vorsprung durch Technik in general. The hotel's a bit swish though; we've even got a trouser press. A freshen up and a walk in the park before dinner is in order I think.

I think that we could recommend Le Parc de l'Orangerie for an evening stroll if only for the magnificent White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) nesting in the carefully pollarded Plane trees. Did you know that these birds gave rise to the ancient Greek Law of Pelargonia, (Pelargos being the Greek for Stork)? Storks were thought to care for their aged parents and Pelargonia enshrined in law that Greek citizens should do the same. Storks don't, by the way, but the majority of Greeks still do.

Apart from the storks they have a wonderful selection of well labelled trees here and what is more, they have Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) running around in them (a bit too quickly for my little camera). These are still quite rare in England due to the introduction of the Eastern Grey Squirrel in the last century coupled with the virtual eradication of its natural predator, the Pine Marten. However, conservation measures are under way for both the Red Squirrel and the Pine Marten.

Time for an aperitif before dinner (I spotted a nice looking restaurant near the park entrance) and there's a small cafe overlooking the lake here which has a Pastis with my name on it. It looks as if we have company. I have a great fondness for sparrows as they are different wherever you go. This is a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), the same species as we have in the UK but when we get to Italy next week we'll be accompanied by Italian Sparrows (Passer italiae) possibly meeting up with some hybrids on the Swiss-Italian border. When we get back to Crete we'll be with an intergrade species; part Italian, part Spanish (Passer hispaniolensis).

A relaxing day with no travelling. I want to search out the Zoological Museum later but first, a walk by L'ill (the river that flows through Strasbourg as opposed to The Rhine which runs alongside) down into the old town, and it is old, it held its 2000th anniversary in 1988. I particularly want to see La Cathederale de Strasbourg to see what inspired Thys van Leer to dedicate a piece of music to it. This is a comparitively modern building, it wasn't completed until 1439. It was actually started in 1176 but you know what building projects are like when you've got a multitude of materials suppliers to deal with.

And so to the Musee Zoologique which is not the best signposted Museum in the world, being buried in a mass of old buildings of identical construction in the academic quarter. Found it at last and it was worth rooting out (and you must admit that the psychology seminar we attended was interesting and the guy from the geology department was positively fascinating). A real old fashioned museum, full of stuffed animals and well layed out display cases full of insects and other arthropods. No, you go on ahead. I may be some time. Ah, Chrysomelidae...

Crete Nature Catch-up

Steve's Books (well, just the one at the moment but 'The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies' is now at the proofreading stage and on course for publication next month).

Not Just For Twisted Women by Steve Daniels 

A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.

Kindle Edition 1.99 pounds sterling (or equivalent).

Click on the link to the right to read two complete stories for free.

Paperback Edition 4.99 pounds sterling (or equivalent)..
Read snippets, samples and stuff at Steve's Books

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