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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dinner for France

You never know where life will take you.  We woke early on the 26th and took the tram to a Sunday brunch in downtown Basel.  It is so funny how the brunch buffet in Europe occupies a 4x4 table; whereas in America everything is so big.  No wonder we are such an overweight nation, where our options are limitless.  After breakfast we toured the entire city on foot.  Actually it was more like a real-life game of Frogger; dodging trams, buses, cars, scooters, bikes, etc.   Somehow we survived and even found Holly's ancestor's house.  She had letters from the 70's from a famous artist whom she is related to that lived in Basel.  We visited the address on the letters and had our hostel host translate the letter for her.  In our travels we also found Holbeinstrasse (Holbein street). I haven't had the chance to research my ancestry but I do know that I am part German and Basel is so close to Germany, I am eager to learn more about the probable relation.  We walked for hours and hours and then came home for a power nap.  While I was sleeping Holly discovered that France was only 25 mins away.  Needless to say we hopped the next tram, then a bus.  The only bump in the road was purchasing the ticket.  The bus driver had us open our wallets and was picking through US coins and euros to find franc coins and was very patient.  We arrived in the French countryside just in time for a "summer festival".  They pointed us where to go and we started up the hill.  After walking for a bit we were getting further and further into the forest on a paved road.  We decided we must have gone the wrong way, so we walked back down, looked at the sign and walked back up again.  By the time we finally decided which direction we were headed in the festival was over.  Instead, we took a walk though the small neighborhood of Leyman and had dinner at a French chateau.  It was gorgeous and the food was amazing.  I have to admit that I did have a minor panic attack in the restroom after we ordered an extravagant dinner and I realized that we had no euros (we turned them into francs) and the credit cards don't work at most places here.  In the end it all worked out the meal was paid for and we made it back to Switzerland safely.

June 27:  This morning we rose bright and early to head to Interlaken, Switzerland (the dramatic mountainous area).  I had a bad head cold and had a hard time getting started today.  After breakfast we headed to the train station.       We missed the first train by 1 minute.  Literally.  We saw it pull away.  The next train was in an hour, so I leaned against my pack and rested because I was feverish at this point.  Holly asked around a bit and when the train came at the scheduled time, we found out that our train had moved to another track.  We missed the train again by 1 minute.  Literally.  We saw it pull away (again).  We finally moved to a third track and Holly navigated us to Interlaken while I slept in a feverish fit.  We arrived at the train station in the middle of town.  Our first priority was to secure a horse and carriage ride to a camping site.  I was dressed in a summer dress (yes one of the 10 or so that I packed) and pearls. (how else are you supposed to dress to camp in Europe? My prince was awaiting me.... he just hasn't found me.. yet).  Im off on a tangent.  Yes we really did take a buggy to a camping ground.  We set up and then set off to take on the town (and find some Advil).  We had a salad buffet lunch in Interlaken then walked the town in search of a "scooter" (Holly said her friends wouldn't know what a "vespa" was).    Several kilometers later and too many degrees Celsius to count we arrived at the vespa shop (after Holly signed up for canyon jumping tomorrow).  Next was  swimming in the crystal clear water, which Holly promptly gulped down, being that there is no fresh water (aside from mineral water) anywhere in Europe.  Apparently the Speedo-wearing old men of Europe find this to be an attractive quality because we got invited to the museum by the director tomorrow for a personal tour of a nearby cavern.  After narrowly escaping his several attempts to secure a date with us tomorrow, we headed off into the sunset (no actually the sun doesn't set until 10 pm.. we just headed off to dinner).  We found an amazing restaurant on the lake, complete with sheepskin pads on the chairs and a deck overlooking the water and mountains.  The special was a Swiss fish and when I asked for a vegetarian dish, the owner invited me to speak with the chef personally to create a vegetarian dish.  He was a wonderful food artist and the dinner plates came out perfect.  They were gracious hosts and after long conversations and too many photos later, they are our new facebook friends.  After dinner, we geared up for the cooler weather and rode on our vespa into the mountains, like Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber.  We toured several small towns and the countryside.  We went as high as the vespa would go and when the road got too steep, we pushed it.  On the way home we ended the night by taking a brief tour of the highway (sorry rental lady who warned us not to... those green signs came out of nowhere), but we found our way in the end (and no small children or animals were injured in the process).    We are retiring tonight in our tent, with our new Swiss neighbors beside us, and lots of memories and photos from the day.  

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