World Forum of Democracy in Strasbourg, France – First Impressions!

I’ve traveled quite a bit around our little globe, but I’ve never been to France before. While I’m staring at the ceiling of my hotel room, jet-lagged at 2:30 AM in France time I thought it’s best if I write down my first impressions of France and most importantly, the beautiful city of Strasbourg.

I came straight from the United States to Frankfurt, Germany. Spent a good night there and took the bus to Strasbourg, France. It is undeniably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, especially because of the breathtaking sights I witnessed during my bus ride. The “rural” of France is nothing like an “underdeveloped” area, but more like a developed area with the environment in mind. The wind, the view, the skies, the people – all seem to be taking in the importance of us blending in with nature, not the other way around.

There were some pretty shocking revelations I had as soon as I got to Strasbourg and started walking around. Some of these were expected and some of it, not really.

The Dollar is dead.

I’ve never felt so “powerless” with the US Dollar, but no one seems to be accepting it. Everyone is like “where is your Euro, bruh.” So I had to walk a couple of miles to find a place where I could exchange my dollars to Euros. From taxi drivers to informational desks to train/tram tickets – no one wants the mighty dollar. Especially given the fact that Euros trade more in exchange, compared to the dollar. I didn’t even offer them my Lankan Rupees. They would have probably kicked me out!

Not a lot of English!

Okay, I kinda expected this, but it was really funny to experience it. Whenever I travel to Asia and other European countries, especially even in Germany, a majority of the people tend to speak English (not true in Italy, though). So here in Strasbourg, not a lot of people speak English. Not many TV channels in English either. It isn’t hard to communicate in general using a few hand gestures and common English words, but fluency isn’t anywhere near. It was a pretty good feeling. They have a fine language and they’re proud of it! Fier de parler français!

Exceptionally nice people!

I’ve met some of the most exceptionally helpful and nice strangers here. It’s like everyone is so international in Strasbourg (but everyone speaks French!). I’ve had one person who took me a little further to find a friend who speaks English to translate the directions to me. Another person kept calling me “my friend” which I think was the only English he spoke, but was kind enough to draw an entire map of the mall. He drew on a piece of paper which he tore from his own notebook. Everyone is so accepting and kind. It’s a beautiful moment.

Convenient traveling options

From trams to trains to buses, traveling around Strasbourg is so much easy. France has Uber as well, but I tend to take the bus because its cheaper and you get to get off at the bus stop and walk a bit so you can enjoy the scenery. The entire city is also walkable – every road has a pavement (sidewalk) and is pretty much made to cycle and walk around. I’m loving it.

So those are some of the first impressions of Strasbourg. I haven’t spent more than 40 hours here yet but I’m falling in LOVE! This city is beautiful, simple, architecturally profound, and emotionally exceptional. There is a reason I called this article “first impressions.” Be on the lookout for an article from my entire journey! Next up – Geneva!