Published on July 20th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Swimming In The Rhine
I’m still in (or should that be on? I never know) Mykonos. (Definitely on.) (It’s an island, so you have to be on it, not in it.) There, that’s cleared up.
So, on countdown now until the Man Geoffrey and I leave Mykonos, travel to Paris for one night – albeit a delicious night for sure – and then get on a plane and fly to Bangkok (for another delicious night, and pray the flight path doesn’t take us over Ukraine…surely it won’t) and then it will be back to Brisbane and then a 2 hour drive up the road to Noosa and we will finally be home after these 7 indulgent weeks in Europe.
We will have escaped most of the Australian winter and seeing as Noosa’s winter isn’t as bad as the winter where you live, that’s a little selfish but we hate the winter anywhere even if it is a bit on the balmy side.
Wanted to tell you a bit more about Beautiful Basel because I’m sure my last blog gave you a tantalising glimpse into the charms of the Swiss town. (And if it didn’t why didn’t it?
Basel is small and concise and pretty and neat and clean and fresh and fascinating and has history going back to medieval times.
Our lovely guide Margrit told us many things about Basel, her mind for figures and dates and facts left us reeling with awe (love a reel now and again, especially when it concerns awe.)
We walked all over the Old Town with her on a beautiful warm sunny Swiss morning as she pointed out houses that dated back to 1329 where the silk merchants lived, and she showed us the university and lovely leafy squares and cobbled streets and important government houses.
We tried to absorb as much of the information we could – not easy when there is so much to learn – and we kept stopping at elaborate old stone fountains where fresh clean water spurted and Margrit told us there were about 140 plus fountains in Basel alone, not counting all the many millions all over Switzerland, and that the water from them was so pure you could drink it without concern, so we put out mouths to the spurty bit and drank, or at least I did, the Man Geoffrey put his hands in the base of the fountain and cupped up scoops of water to drink which horrified Margrit because you shouldn’t drink from the base where pigeons had done their business or people had put their grubby feet in, but the good news is the Man Geoffrey hasn’t died a horrible death of the stomach heebie jeebies.
Then we stood high on a hill and looked down on the Rhine River with its banks lined with grand and historic buildings and we wished we had some gorgeous old buildings in Australia more than 200 years old but that was silly wishful and fanciful thinking so we focussed on the loveliness all around us and Margrit told us that locals loved to jump in the Rhine River during their lunch break and let the swift current take then downstream (or would that be up?) and then get out when they’d had enough time in the water.
But here’s the fun thing, they could put their clothes into a plastic bag shaped like a fish which was not only waterproof it acted like a floating device so all they had to do was hold on to the plastic bag and let the river provide a ride. What a wonderful carefree thing to do in your lunch time, I thought, because all I do in my lunch time back home is walk from the office to the little mall across the road and buy a salad sandwich, and a float in the river would be so much more beneficial.
Then I wondered, how did these working folk come out of the office, take their clothes off on the river bank, put them in a little fish plastic thing, float off down the river with them and then get out a few kilometres later and get dressed again and go back to the office? Mmmmm….I didn’t ask Margrit at the time, I was too enchanted with the story of the office workers floating in the river, but I’ll find out later.
Then we met another beautiful guide, Fabienne who took us to lunch at a graceful restaurant called Rubino where we sat outside in the sunshine and ate simple salad leaves in a zingy dressing and Fabienne told us she’d lived in Australia for a period and loved it very much, but she missed the fresh produce and when she arrived back in Switzerland the first thing she did was eat lettuce with a zingy dressing. The Man Geoffrey and I were a little taken aback ‘cos we eat lettuce every day with a zingy dressing, but there you go. Then we ate a creamy mushroom pasta dish and an even creamier dessert then we met Margrit again who took us on a tram to the outstandingly fabulous Foundation Beyeler gallery.
This gallery was built from donations by the Beyelers, an altruistic couple who had an extraordinary private art collection and left it to the city. Well, gobsmacked we were with the beautiful spacious building and the art – Monet, Picasso and the like – and to our good fortune, there was a current exhibition by a Gerhard Richter, a genius. His works included portraits, still lives, abstracts and giant glass images that had you fascinated because they reflected you and made paintings behind them change shape. Exhilarating and thrilling beyond the telling.
That night Switzerland was due to play Argentia in the World Cup final and we were so now in love with Switzerland and feeling like locals we were fully committed to seeing Switzerland win. So we went down to the hotel’s restaurant and joined the locals in front of a giant television screen and with white knuckles watched the game. Of course we didn’t understand a world of the commentary but that didn’t matter at all. We sat and gasped and cheered and booed with the locals and then felt devastated when Switzerland didn’t win.
So there…art, football, culture, swimming and zingy lettuce leaves. What is not to love about Basel?
P.S. We bought two of those plastic fish things to put our clothes in so if you see a naked big fat sheila floating down the Noosa River in her lunch time, or worse, struggling into her clothes on the river bank, don’t be alarmed.