I must have told this story so many times, once more does not matter.
When I went to Europe in 2009, I mixed my Schengen visa dates (I had an Indian passport) so I had to cancel the Strasbourg leg. I don’t know why I chose to go to Strasbourg that time. It just seemed like an attractive city that no one I knew had travelled to or had even heard about. Which is strange because the European Parliament, the International Institute of Human Rights, Arté and the University Of Strasbourg are some of the institutions in this city. I was gutted I could not visit but let it go. I had been to Europe, my very own OE, and we all make planning mistakes. (Ha, wait till I write again about how I missed my flight back to NZ from Berlin because I forgot the date :-))
There I was, in Strasbourg. Through the last week of May and the first week of June 2014.
We drove from Surbourg into Strasbourg. We were flat and cat sitting.
We stayed for three days then moved to another part of town, again, flat sitting. This time for S’s cousin and her partner.
Moving gear at night, searching for a place to park, I almost did not notice the three young sex workers at the entrance of the building. Very young and one very pregnant, all of African origin. Before that, as we stopped at a set of lights, there stood a beautiful, slender woman. Only in her shirt it seemed. I looked closer. Was this a new French fashion? No she wore nude stockings under her shirt, appearing nonchalant on the street. Seeking business. My middle class bleeding heart cannot fathom what compels a woman to be in this industry. A very difficult life with no light, no love, and … I can imagine as I wish but it is not so simple is it?
The third time we moved to flat sit was to Gershteim, a village an hour by bus from Strasbourg. I thought the flat was ultra modern, S just laughed. She did not think so. And although the view was not great it was peaceful and quiet, not far from Strasbourg, with a good bus connection. Gershteim was lovely.
So although I was a tourist I got to see Strasbourg from the inside which I would have never managed if I’d visited in 2009. I loved wandering the streets, I cycled, very afraid to crash into a person or car, I almost walked into a tram forgetting that in Europe they drive on the other side of the road, I really liked Strasbourg. I could live there. I see myself working with the Institute Of Human Rights with relation to refugee health/medicine, and telling stories for Arté.