Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Strasbourg, France

I am back, with Academic Travel blog post #4! 

Located in the Alsace region of France, Strasbourg sits on the border of France and Germany and has changed hands between the two many times. Which explains its very German name. Here are some highlights of my two day adventure there! 

Flowers at the market, a carousel in the main square, and the view out my hotel window! 

You may recognize its most prominent landmark, the Strasbourg Cathedral, from the opening scene of Sherlock Holmes 2. Check out the clip embedded below!  
(hint: if youre really anxious skip to 0:45)

Strasbourg is a symbolic location for this seat of the European Parliament because it represents a relations bridge between Germany and France in this once highly disputed territory. Unfortunately, the logistics of splitting the parliament  between two meeting places (Strasbourg, France and Brussels, Belgium) is a nightmare and described to us by many employees as "a traveling circus." With 300+ translators (not including 400+ translators who come in during peak periods) and 736 members, moving between two countries and having two buildings is both costly (200 million Euro per year) and inefficient (20,000 extra tons of CO2 emitted). 

 A view from inside the European Parliament. A gorgeous "green" building! Unfortunately, it sits vacant 20 days out of the month as politicians only meet here once a month. I think it is a terrible waste and in fact (in a recent poll taken) 90% of the members of the European Parliament agree with me. With 81% preferring to be based in Brussels, Belgium where all other EU operations are located. The day before we arrived in Strasbourg the members voted overwhelmingly (615 to 42) for a treaty moving to a single seat. This was a historical decision because currently France is suing the Parliament for merging two (three day) Strasbourg sessions into one earlier this year.. oh the inefficiencies of the EU

A view from one of the bridges in the "Petite France" neighborhood 

The famous Astronomical Clock located inside the Strasbourg Cathedral. Not only does it tell the time but also the real postions of the Sun and the Moon and everyday at 12:30 a rooster crows three times and 18inch high figures of Christ and the Apostles move around the clock in a procession.  

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