Published on July 18th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard1
Efficient, Clean, Organised ….. Switzerland
Had enough idling your days away on Psarou Beach with me in Mykonos?
Well, there are five more days of this slothing still to go but how about I take you away from Mykonos to Switzerland for just a brief interlude?
No? How about on a magic carpet then?
That way you won’t feel any pain of leaving a padded sun bed surrounded by near naked bodies with tiny hips and surgically-enhanced boobies and lips (and that’s just the men), and a Flower Cactus cocktail at lunch time (yum, vanilla vodka, apple, rhubarb and cactus flower) and a thick pastry filo stuffed with spinach and feta.
So, let’s go back in time to June 30 – when I left pretty Provence and said a sad goodbye to all the agreeable and charming and delightful tour guests who’d joined me for one of the fabulous Ann Rickard Tours of Provence – to embark on an 8 day odyssey in Switzerland with the Man Geoffrey. It was the first time in a month I was going to be alone with him.
Bit nervous we were – no, not about being alone and having to fake romance, nothing like that – because we had to take many trains and trams and buses on this 8 day Swiss gig and we don’t do public transport very well (on account of never ever in our entire long lives having lived anywhere where there was a reliable public transport system.)
But need we have worried? Nah….we were in the most efficient, clean, organised and competent country in the world.
In 8 days we never once waited more than 4 minutes for a train or 90 seconds for a tram. Who would want to have the bothersome burden of owning a car in such a proficient place? Not me.
So arriving in Basel by train all the way from Avignon in the South of France – very smooth ride on these European fast trains, tres fast – we came out of the Basel station, turned left and there before us was a great big tram stop with lots of people hovering around a veritable bevy of sleek long trams coming and going.
We’d been told to get on a number 8 or 11 and seeing as there was a number 11 right there about to glide gracefully off on its smooth tracks, we leapt on (as fast as two oldies well on their way to corpulence due to the over-eating of almond croissants in Provence, can leap with two heavy suitcases, a backpack, a laptop and a hand bag) and settled in nicely to a seat holding all our ridiculous amount of luggage, and off we tootled in fine fettle.
Our hotel stop in Markplatz wasn’t far from the station so we sat back to enjoy the ride and look at the many people hopping on and off the tram including mothers with prams and cute babies and young people and very old people. We felt right at home.
After a delightful tour of the city looking out to graceful Swiss houses and apartments, a surfeit of handsome old buildings, and green parks where slim young things were practising karate, we realised we’d got on the right tram, but it was going in the wrong direction.
Well, normally this would put me in a state of high agitation because I have an abnormal fear of GOING THE WRONG WAY IN CASE I END UP IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, but the Man Geoffrey calmly said ‘just settle down, it will turn around and go back and we’ll enjoy a nice ride’ and sure enough he was right (he normally is) (infuriating) and the tram did turn and go all the way back and we’d had a pre-tour to the tour we were going to do the next day in Basel. Delightful it was.
The Markplatz stop was actually only three stops past the station where we’d originally got on and once we knew this (told by the helpful English-speaking-female tram driver) we were in even finer fettle.
Off at Markplatz, our hotel was just a two minute walk up a gorgeous cobbled street so Swiss we felt like yodelling, and the fine-fettle situation got even finer and more fettle. We didn’t even have to pay for the tram ride, every visitor to Basel who stays in a hotel can travel with gay abandon and unbridled joy on trams for free. How good is that? We found that a lot in Switzerland – things get better and better each day for visitors with not only superior and efficient transport but lots of free stuff.
Our hotel, Hotel Basel in the old town, couldn’t have been more charming and after we’d conducted our usual settling-into-a-hotel-room-ritual (draining the contents of the mini bar, checking out the quality of the bathroom products, bouncing on the bed (in a wholesome child-like way) to check it’s sturdiness, turning on the television to see if we could get BBC World News (sometimes you have to keep up, even though you don’t want to), we headed for Basel’s delightful streets and I did a quiet little yodel of happiness to be in such an historic and graceful town.
There is much more Basel loveliness to tell you but I think you’ve had enough for one blog.
And for your information – for I sometimes like to inform as well as entertain – Basel is at the top leftish bit of Switzerland and it is pronounced Basel in Switzerland but Bale in France.
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