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    • Day 2

      River Rhine, Basel, Switzerland

      June 25, 2020 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      The „fischerhäuschen“ und „fischergalgen“ on the banks of the rhine in basel are rarely used for fishing than they used to be. in earlier times the fishing gallows were still called "salmenwaage" or "fischwoog". the dialect word “woog” means something like “deepest water point”, which could be an indication of the location of this fishing tackle, *not* of a relationship with the scales ⚖️. the “woog fishing” on salmon was mainly carried out during the night and less during the day; unless the rhine was slightly clouded. the catch was most productive in may, june, july and september. the fishing gallows known today have only existed since the end of the 19th century. the „fischerhäuschen“ und „fischergalgen“ is practically the luxury version of the fishing gallows, which has been around for much longer as fishing gear. the fishermen's cottages came “in vogue” at a point in time when the salmon was about to withdraw from this body of water. at the same time, the leisure behavior of the urban bourgeoisie changed: out, back to nature, but with comfort and the latest fishing technology. the principle of fishing has remained the same: a metal rod on which a square net was lowered to the bottom of the river with a crank and then lifted up again as soon as the fish were above the net. the fishermen only had to wait on their stool - the „böggli“ - until enough fish swam over the net in order to then pull it up.Read more

    • Day 39

      Fünf Fotos-Basel Day 1

      May 22, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      After one last filling breakfast at IL Segreto de Pietrafetta, we offered a grateful farewell to the staff who really made us feel at home the last ten nights.

      Today was mostly a travel day as we needed to get from Firenze to Basel, Switzerland.

      Our first leg of the journey was in returning our rental car with the added twist of navigating several street closures in Florence due to some kind of race event.

      I think that Jim C was very happy to relinquish the car as he was tasked with being the chauffeur extraordinaire. We walked a few blocks to the station and found our first leg of the travel: a two-hour fast train from Firenze to Milano. We rode coach for this leg of the journey to conserve some Euros. It was a bit crowded, but the trip was smooth and on time. We noticed that most of this segment was through rural northern Italy. It was pleasant, and less dramatic than the Tuscan hills. We arrived in Milano with about a 50-minute layover.

      I was really looking forward to this next leg of the trip as the path from Milan to Zurich goes through the Italian Alps and navigates around many beautiful lakes. We had a slight upgrade on this part, and I thought we might have a little more space.

      I was dead wrong about that.

      We ended up in a set of two pairs if seats facing each other- Jim and I at the window and two younger women whose expressions and body language for the next three hours exuded their displeasure that we were their "neighbors" The woman next to Jim removed a few layers of clothing and juggled some massive shopping bags. My "neighbor" turned her back to me, and the only words she uttered was to ask me to shift so the she had better access to the phone charging outlet. Meanwhile, Jim's new found friend decided to sit sideways in her chair with the delusion that somehow she would contain herself to her seat. I know that I'm giving this way too much energy. We were just taken aback by the experience.

      The mountains and lakes really were quite beautiful, and we passed over a bridge with many flags that we surmised was the border crossing.

      At one point, an automatic recording flashed on the screen saying that there was a problem with the train and that all passengers would have to disembark. In the midst of the announcement, the screens went dark and there was no further explanation.

      About thirty minutes later, we heard announcements in several different languages, and we figured out that there would be a few stops to let other trains pass. When I heard the announcement in different languages, all I could think of was the scene in "Young Frankenstein" where the conductor and passengers repeated the same scene in different languages while Dr. "Frahnkensteen" is traveling to Transylvania.

      We arrived about twenty minutes late to Zurich, but we still managed to make our last train to Basel with about ten minutes to spare. This last part of the journey went smoothly, and we appreciated having a row to ourselves. Our train arrived just before 8 p.m. Jim C figured out the light rail train that we needed just outside the train station. It arrived shortly after we reached the stop, and Jim C figured out the nearest stop. As we were looking on our navigation app to find our hotel, Jim looked up and pointed to our hotel about 50 yards from the metro stop.

      We checked in to our hotel room and decided to take a walk and find a restaurant. There is an Italian restaurant at the foot of our boutique hotel, but we both agreed that a break from Italian cuisine was a good idea.

      We enjoyed a walk over a bridge crossing the Rhine River knowing that we will become much more acquainted with the river later in the week.

      Our first impression of Basel is that it is clean and relatively peaceful for a city of 570,000 people. We enjoyed the sedate walk back to our hotel after dinner, and we look forward to exploring the city over the next few days.

      Gute Nacht, süße Träume!
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    • Day 40

      Fünf Fotos-Basel Day 2

      May 23, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

      "Today is Monday. If you don't know that the whole system might fall apart. " This was a leading quote on a wall art installation by a 32 year-old Swiss artist named Yoan Mudry that we noticed on our walk back to the hotel this evening. http://yoanmudry.com/) For the last quarter-century Kunsthalle has been commissioning art installations. Mudry's work was clever and provocative. A number of pieces caused a few laugh out loud moments for us while others were a bit more sobering.

      I am finding the combination of retirement and vacation as causing the abstraction of what Monday meant to me for decades of school and work. I do hope that my lack of orientation will not disrupt the system. 😆 On second thought, perhaps we would all be better off with a disruption.

      We launched the day after a light breakfast at the hotel with a river walk along the Rhine. Jim C proposed that we do it earlier in the day as the air was quite muggy, and hadn't yet begun to heat up. Initially, we thought we would walk up the river a bit and then cross the bridge to Altstadt GrossBasel (Old Town).

      We decided instead to stroll to a outcropping on the river where the borders of Switzerland,Germany,and France meet known as the Dreiländereck. On the way, we passed several moored river cruise ships including one from the company that will be hosting our Rhine cruise on Wednesday. It was pretty fun to see the boat up close and to dream about our upcoming adventure.

      When we arrived at the Dreiländereck, it was pretty fun getting email assurance alerts from my phone service noting my presence in new countries and my continued coverage. While we enjoyed the novelty of standing in the three countries, I want to share an observation from my friend Adin after seeing our FB selfie:

      "During my Berlin student days on a summer break, I visited a park where the boundaries of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany intersected.

      I recall watching the birds flit from one “nation” to another. That's when I learned the lesson that the powerful fabricate national borders. Schengen's gone a long way towards making them much, much less relevant."

      Thank you, Adin. It's a good reminder that there are too many artificial constructs that polarize us.

      I want to share a few impressions of Basel that we absolutely love.

      First, when we arrived at the hotel last night, we were handed a Basel card that gives us free access on all public transportation. The reduction of car traffic and a well-networked transit system has a clear impact on the carbon footprint as well as just making the city quieter. It was a Monday, and the whole day was tranquil.

      Second, we see many examples where something old isn't an abandoned eyesore, but a repurposing of something beautiful. Metal containers became raised bed planters planted with wildflowers along the riverwalk. Another example that we discovered on the way to the Dreiländereck was a temporary use area of all kinds of salvaged structures ranging from old ships to freight containers. While the area is only open on the weekend, it was a marvelous collection of restaurants, lounges and dance venues. There were many creative venues, and I'm sorry that we'll miss seeing them in action.

      Third, the city is immaculate. One can sense collective pride and welcoming to locals and visitors alike.

      On our return trip we noticed incoming thunderheads and lightning from afar. Rather than retracing our steps, we took the metro back and we stopped at a local bookstore. It was a good thing because the skies let loose with torrents of rain and dramatic bolts of lightning. While many were not prepared for the downpour, I noticed the general amusement of the people who embraced the rain with shrieks of laughter and resignation as they sought shelter. We waited for the rains to subside, grabbed some lunch and shopped for a few shirts before heading back to the hotel. As we were walking back, we noticed a small ferry boat latched to an overhead cable to help navigate a river crossing amidst the swift current.

      After a long nap, we headed out to a tiny gay bar and watched the people riding their bikes and walking. We couldn't help notice the number of adults riding bikes with cello cases strapped to their backs as they rode up hill as well as many children with stringed instrument cases who were accompanied by their parents as they walked together to their destinations.

      We grabbed a burger and fries at a local restaurant and on the way home after dinner we found the art installation previously mentioned.

      Happy Monday! (I'm just doing my part to preserve the system for one more week.) 🤣
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    • Day 41

      Fünf Fotos-Basel Day 3

      May 24, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      We enjoyed a laid-back day today. Jim C headed to the laundromat so that our clothes would be ready for our river cruise launch tomorrow. When he returned back to the hotel, he remarked, "It turns out that the first stop was a dry cleaners so I went to France to do the laundry instead. " 🇫🇷 It is a bit surreal to cross the border without it being a convoluted checkpoint.

      Yesterday I remarked about us receiving a complimentary Basel Card that gives us free access on all public transportation. An additional perk of the card is discounts to a number of area attractions. We opted to take a trip to the Zoologischer Garten Basel (Basel Zoo) and when we arrived we learned that our admission price had a 50% discount with the card.

      It was almost as fun to watch the families and school children at the zoo as the animal exhibits. It felt a bit unusual to be at the zoo without Olive as we frequently take her there. Overall, the zoo made for a nice stroll. One of the exhibits had nutria, a rodent that resembles a beaver. When I looked at the geographical map showing the distribution of this species in South America- they forgot Oregon. I knew that nutria are an invasive species in Western Oregon as they were released in the wild decades ago.

      After the zoo, we went to the Markthalle, an open food market and seating area with an extensive cuisine representation. Jim opted for Pad Thai, and I had a Vietnamese noodle dish. I think we were both feeling a bit homesick for take-out back home.

      As we were leaving, I noticed the proximity of booths representing countries typically in conflict, and it served as yet another reminder about building bridges across cultural and political divides.

      Given our ample lunch, we opted to skip dinner and instead have a beer and people watch near a traffic circle. In contrast to traffic circles in Italy where it's a "me-first" mentality without attention to any other rules, Basel seems like a choreographed cooperation dance. It was fun to watch bikes, scooters, cars, busses and pedestrians looking out for each other. In particular any pedestrian approaching a crosswalk is given right-of-way without exception.

      I'm getting ready to call it a night with a cool breeze beckoning me to sleep.

      Gute Nacht, Freunde und Familie.
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    • Day 55

      Basel. Wie die meisten Städte nur teurer

      July 24, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

      Nach einem Rundgang durch die Stadt muss ich sagen, ob Basler Münster, Spalentor oder Rheinpromenade. Irgendwo alles schonmal gesehen. Ein Lichtblick bietet das Rathaus welches durchaus kunstvoll gestaltet ist aber Besichtigungstermine rar sind.Read more

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