Sunday, 29 July 2007

European Grand Tour 2007 Day 9

Day 9

We had a long drive ahead of us on this day so we got up early in order to head off and make good time. I opened the curtains to a view so amazing I had to get my camera:

A Sciliar Morning, originally uploaded by xrrr.

There was not much to report on the journey other than the new SG record of visiting FIVE foreign countries in a single day! I was very excited!

  1. Italy: A quick blast up the autostrada to the Austrian border

  2. Austria: We got a bit confused at the border and missed the place where we had to buy our toll vignette from but managed to buy one from a very grumpy petrol station man just over the border. As well as the vignette we were also stung for two €8 tolls for tunnels.

  3. Switzerland: lots and lots of tunnels

  4. Germany: We saw a sign saying "Germany 300 metres" so I had to take to opportunity as I had never been to Germany before. We drove over the border, got out of the car for 20 seconds and then headed back to Switzerland. It still counts!

  5. France: We stayed at the Hotel Cour du Roy in Saint Louis about 1km from the Swiss border.
Well I was impressed :-)

For dinner we decided to go into Basel. The hotel receptionist was very helpful and told us what bus to get and where to get the tram home.

Going over the French-Swiss border was strange. The checkpoint is basically a hut with (open) gates crossing the road. The road is dead straight and goes on for miles on either side of the border. The oddest thing was seeing French road names and billboard advertisements and then after going through this gate everything switched to German. Literally in the space of 20 feet. The part of Switzerland we went through to get to Italy was Italian speaking so the transition was not particularly noticeable that time. Whilst on the French side I saw this shop that I liked the look of:

Valentin SIMON, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Basel was quite nice, I don't think our one hour stroll around the centre did it justice. We got off the bus at the historic Marktplatz where there were a number of old buildings.

Basel Marketplace, originally uploaded by xrrr.

After strolling around aimlessly we stopped for a beer (I know that I mention beer in most of these blog posts but it was a long drive!) by the cathedral.

Mmmm beer, originally uploaded by xrrr.

As we were in Switzerland they have a different currency. Fortunately we had been told that everywhere takes the Euro but gives change in Swiss Francs. We consulted the Basel guide book we had picked up from the hotel and it suggested a visit to the 'Pfaltz' vantage point behind the cathedral. As we were right by the cathedral we took a look.
It offered a great view of the lake, the guide book had tipped us off about the popularity of swimming in the river on hot days so were not surprised to see people having a dip:

Swiming in the Rhine at Basel, originally uploaded by xrrr.

We were high above the river level and could see people below waiting for the ferry:

Waiting for the Ferry, originally uploaded by xrrr.

The ferry was unpowered and was kept in place by a rope looped around a bigger rope spanning the river. The driver(?) of the boat basically pointed the ferry in the right direction diagonally to the flow of the river and the current takes the ferry across the river.
As we were quite high up, I felt like Yann Arthus-Bertrand taking this shot:

Ferry Boat on the Rhine, originally uploaded by xrrr.

By now we were getting hungry so we headed into one of the squares for some food. After a long dinner and some nice wine we needed to get a tram back to the French border.

All Aboard, originally uploaded by xrrr.

The nice lady in the hotel had told us that there were Euro vending machines for the tram. Unfortunately we could not find them. We only had enough Francs for one ticket and did not fancy getting out more cash from a cash machine as it would have been a waste. As we were contemplating going for another drink to act as currency exchange I thought I would try something:
Me (to chap stood next to ticket machine): 'Entschuldigung sie bitte, sprechen sie English?'
Chap: 'Just a bit mate' (in a London accent)

We asked about the Euro situation and he started waffling on about 'never trust the French' because he was not aware of any Euro vending machines. Despite my protestations he bought us two tram tickets (CHF 3.00 each) and would not take any money for them at all.

Basel Centre, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Tickets in hand we backed away as he called after us 'Never trust the French'. I think he was a little drunk but he was good humoured and very kind to buy those tickets for us.
The tram stops at the Swiss-France border so we had to walk over the border (another first for me, walking over an international border - airports don't count). Once in France, we stopped off for a drink to break up the 15 minute journey back to the hotel. As we were enjoying our drink the sky started flashing up with lightening so we decided to head back to the hotel as we were umbrella-less. It started raining about 2 minutes from the hotel and started totally emptying it down about 30 seconds after we reached the hotel so we were very lucky not to get very wet!

[All Photos][Next Day]

1 comment:

amy123 said...

Hellow =^.^=
Les “n’images” que tu as publiée sont simplement sublimes =^.^= surtout les chats hihi
Bonne continuation a toi