Eurotrip 2011, Part 7: Kicking Back in Basel

Basel, Switzerland

This installment covers Days 16–18 of my 2011 trip to Europe…

After our final night in the villa we awoke, finished packing, and walked up the road to the bus stop. We had time before the bus was due to arrive so we entered the nearby restaurant to have lunch, where we bumped into three of our villa-mates. They had left the villa earlier in the week but returned to the area on this day to have one last lunch at the restaurant and say goodbye to the waitress they had befriended. We were very fortunate to have run into them because our bus arrived early and never stopped. We exited the restaurant just in time to see it speeding down the hill.

If our villa-mates had not been there we would have been screwed. The next bus wasn’t coming anytime soon and we would definitely have missed our train to Basel. Luckily, they had a car and were able to drive us down the hill and into Florence, all the way to the train station.

So we hopped aboard the train for the long ride to Switzerland. We had one layover in the very busy Milan train station before getting on the final train to Basel. As is always the case when riding through Switzerland, the scenery was gorgeous.  Here’s one photo I took from the train that didn’t come out too badly (most of them had window reflections):

We arrived in Basel late that afternoon. Uncle Kipp’s friend Andy met us at the train station and guided us via public transportation back to her apartment. We would be spending the next three nights here before heading to Croatia. At the apartment we met the rest of her family, including her mother, who cooked us a delicious Tex-Mex dinner. Before dinner I had my first ever glass of Prosecco—and a love affair was born that continues to this day. It’s so inexpensive over there that Andy had an entire fridge stocked with it. After dinner I tried my first roasted chestnut, which was a big deal for me because I don’t like any kind of nuts in general, but I was able to enjoy these.

Before bed that night I skyped with my wife, Jen. I had chatted with her on the phone throughout the first 16 days of the trip, and of course I missed her the whole time, but it wasn’t until seeing her and my dog, Heidi, on video that I truly began feeling homesick—and I still had two weeks to go. We had been apart for 8 to 9 days on my previous trips, but a month is a long time. For the most part I was okay because I was always so busy during the day, but at night it would catch up with me a bit.

After breakfast the next morning we went for a walk all over the city. Unlike Lucerne, Basel is not nestled in the Alps, but it still has plenty of its own charm, and the Rhine is never far away.  There was a fall festival going on that reminded me of the carnivals we have in the States. While walking though the festival we rode the large Ferris wheel, which provided us with spectacular views of the city when we reached the top.

For this post I decided to try a photo gallery for the first time, so here is a collection of some of my favorite photos from Basel.  The fall foliage lent a beautiful color palette to the city.  You can click on a photo to view a larger version and a description:

That night after dinner we watched some TV before heading to bed. The next day, we went into France for lunch. Basel is so close to both France and Germany that a trip to one of these countries is akin to hopping in a car in New Jersey and heading to Philly or New York. This was my first visit to France, not counting the Paris airport, so I could now say that I had set foot in the country, even if it was just over the border. We had a nice lunch at a Japanese restaurant—that’s right, we went to France to eat Japanese. 🙂

After lunch we went to a mall, which was near a McDonald’s. I was very tempted to get my Pulp Fiction on and go order a “Royale with Cheese.” Anyway, that night I skyped with Jen again before bed. It was Halloween, but they don’t really seem to celebrate it in Switzerland, so it was basically just a normal night.

Overall, we had a nice, relaxing three days in Basel. I am very grateful to Andy and her family for welcoming us into their home and for everything they did for us. It was a much-needed escape from hotel living that allowed us to recharge our batteries before embarking on the second half of our trip, which would begin the following morning with an early (and long) day of riding trains that would take us through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and finally into Zagreb, Croatia. That part of our journey will be covered in the next installment. Until then…

View more photos from Basel

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Eurotrip 2011: The Video

I thought I’d kick off the new Videos section of this blog with the very first video I made from one of my trips.  This video covers most of my month in Europe in 2011, including visits to Italy, Switzerland, and Croatia.

This video is nearly 18 minutes long, so I’ll understand if you don’t want to sit through the whole thing :-), but it is accompanied by a couple of pleasant pieces from Holst’s The Planets.

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