We made the train with time to spare after getting ourselves a bit turned around. Let’s just say that trying a new path when you’ve a schedule to keep isn’t a brilliant plan. But Betty hotfooted us through Colmar and as noted we made the train.
The weather lightened up the further we progressed south. While I love train travel, I prefer to be on the observation level (haut). Low-level seating is equal to the tree line and doesn’t allow for many views of the countryside. However, the trees would give sway to vistas every so often and they were lovely.
|2nd Class TER coach|
Switzerland is not part of the EU. So it required carrying our passports (which we do normally) and a change of currency to Swiss Francs. I was disappointed to not get another country stamp when the train arrived in Basel. But the passport control was closed and everyone just walked right in to this new country for me. The most notable immediate change was the language. From the lyrical French we moved to guttural German. To be fair though, Swiss German is softer than that spoken in Germany (according to a woman in the coffee shop we visited).
|Welcome to Basel, Switzerland|
|Center Mural of three in Basel Train Station|
|Take a tram in Basel, they go everywhere|
Before I move on to the sites, tastes, and sounds of this city, I want to thank Anne Schiedel (remember her from a couple of other posts?). Anne used to live outside Basel and recently returned to Portland. We reconnected and over dinner told her about the trip and, perhaps, the visit to Basel. Well, then she returned the favor and invited us for a delicious fondue dinner at which she pulled out a map of Basel and told us about and showed us a walk to see the sights. Now one would think that was enough, but not Anne. Shortly before we left I received an email from her with an entire walking tour documented street by street, turn by turn, site-by-site. It was amazing and we followed it to a tee. Anne now takes people on walking and hiking tours in Switzerland and Alsace. If you are interested, let me know and I’ll connect your with this wonderful friend of ours. Thanks again Annie!!
Now onto Basel! The highlights of the visit included: the Hammering Man, a tall iron sculpture of a man hammering on a building. According to Anne’s notes, there is also a Hammering Man in Seattle, going to have to locate that on one of the trips north. A quirky fountain by Basel artist Jean Tinguely was our next stop. What a fun collection of mechanical contraptions. There was one that I liked in particular, just a little things with extensions appearing much like a horses legs & hooves. The hooves would scoop and toss the water…it was hilarious.
|The Hammering Man|
|Tinguely Fountain...loved the one in the lower left|
The Marktplatz was a buzz of humans, cars, and vendors plying their goods. Center to the square was the Rathaus or town hall. A gorgeous red building adorned by gold-plated turrets, brilliant gables, and beautiful murals, it is truly one of the prettiest structures I’ve seen on my travels. We were able to stroll inside the Rathaus to the courtyard where we found a woman high on a platform cleaning and painting the building. It is clear they take great care of the lovely building.
|Betty & the Klopfers|
|Attached only by the wire & moved by the Rhine current|
|Heading back - ring the bell if you want a ride|
After arriving in Colmar, we decided a degustation was in order so we went to find the only winery in the city confines – Maison Jund (another of Anne’s suggestions). Tasted both a Pinot Blanc and a Riesling – both dry and mineral, the Blanc was a bit more fruity. Bought a bottle of the Riesling to share with Betty’s sister, Jinny, in Provence.
The evening brought us to the Winstub Schwendi for roesti which we enjoyed very much at a little Swiss restaurant in Portland (also suggested by Anne). So we ordered:
- Le Roesti Forestiére (pommes de terre (shredded), champignons, jambon epaulé, sauce hollandaise, lardons)
- Salade verte
- Une pichet de Riesling
It was WAY too much food for me. Betty made it through, but whew. Back to the hotel to a bunch of work…seemed like every client was having issues or questions. However, gave me time to digest a bit before bed…
So, we close the visit to Colmar and Alsace…almost. Will post another with more pictures and a few notes. The next major post…Lyon.