Monday, October 29, 2012

Basel, Switzerland September 13 and 14, 2012

View from my Hotel Jenny terrace
I'm on my way to a small village in Alsace, France, and will be staying at Hotel Jenny.

To reach the hotel I take the train from Lucerne to Basel, Switzerland, my plan is to take a taxi from the Basel train station to the hotel; I was told the taxi fare would be approximately 20 Euro.

Forest path close to Hotel Jenny
When I reach the Basel train station, I discover the fare will be 60 Euros. I do not want to pay that much, and look for the tourist office in the train station to find out what alternatives I have.

 The tourist office is busy and noisy. This complicates my ability to find an alternative way to reach Alsace. Two women, obviously charged with the responsibility of assisting tourists who arrive via train, stand behind the counter.  While I'm talking to one of the women, the other woman is standing next to her, speaking to other travelers. It's difficult to hear and difficult to be heard. The woman I'm not talking to tells me to not talk so loud, but I've been raising my voice so that I can be overheard over her voice, at least that's what I think.

It takes a long time to get the information I'm seeking. Eventually I discover that it is not difficult to get from the train station to the airport. Swiss buses easily accommodate travelers with suitcases, and the bus fare is reasonable. Switzerland and France share the airport. On the French side, for 20 Euros a taxi takes me to the hotel.

Rine River - Basel, Switzerland
After I settle into my room, I embark on a journey that will take me on the most charming walk I've ever experienced. I go up a hill toward the French village of Hagenthal-le-Bas and turn right at a point where I see a gate that can be lowered. It looks like a checkpoint, but it isn't, and I have no idea why it is there. The turn right leads me to the edge of a cornfield. I walk alongside the cornfield then around it, and through a small forest. On the other side of the forest there are fields once more, and a hill to climb.

At the top of the hill I see another village. I walk toward and into the village. All the signs are in German. I stop at a restaurant for lunch and ask what country I'm in. I'm in Switzerland.

I get to thinking, and ask the restaurant proprietor if it was this easy to traverse the border during WW 11. He tells me that his father told him the German's erected barbed wire to prevent travel, and that three-quarters of the village borders France.

September 14, 2012

I once more take the delightful path that leads into the Swiss village, but extend my journey all the way to Basel. When I reach Basel, I look for and find the Rhine River, and wander along its banks for a long time.

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