It is 8:30 Saturday night. We have finished our Alsatian dinner at Chez Yvonne, a block away. Alex and his grandfather are doing pretend-karate--"Hi-yah!"--on the cobblestones in the gloaming, in the wide-open place in front of the gothic cathedral. The construction was begun in the 12th century; for more than 100 years, it was the tallest building in the world. We are staying in the aptly named Hotel Cathédral; we visit the also apt Musée de la Cathédral. It is a cathedral-intensive visit. During our circumambulation of the interior, Alex takes me by the hand. "Daddy, come with me, over to this cross. I have some questions about Jesus." Oy.

Strasbourg is stunning, looking and sounding and tasting like France and Germany at the same time. On this street, half-timber houses painted in the deep pigments of the Black Forest; on that square, the severe lines of Parisian hôtels particuliers. There are narrow cobblestone streets and the narrow river Ill with swimming ducklings and a spinning drawbridge and a canal lock. There are outdoor tables everywhere, serving every manner of pork--shoulders and chops, knuckles and feet, cheeks and bellies. The weather is absolutely perfect.

We take a ride in a tourist mini-train, listening through headphones to the English-version, British-accented guide. (Alex, shaking his head in awe: "She knows everything!") Sam, despite his broken arm, climbs to the observation deck halfway up the cathedral, and also climbs the jungle gym at a playground in an isle in the river. We don't accomplish all that much in the way of sightseeing--we never do--in our under-48-hours visit. We seem to be always heading toward, departing from, or in the midst of a meal or snack; it's especially noticeable while traveling just how frequently little boys must be fed. 

Then we are back in the car, listening to the another British-accented voice, the GPS "map lady," directing us from the souterrain parking under the Place Gutenberg in Strasbourg to the souterrain parking under 22, rue de l'Eau, Luxembourg. Bourg to bourg, parking to parking, 2 hours exactly. Another successful weekend abroad.

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