Saturday 28th July
Rest in Basel
“I was hesitant to leave France. Firstly I would miss it. France had been an amazing experience and as much as I wanted to enter a new country, I felt there was also more of France that needed to be explored. The second reason was that I had just gotten comfortable in France, I had my systems in place, I knew what patisseries I liked, where to get airtime, drink water, etc. I knew enough to get by. Entering another country with a different language, (one that I had no high school classes to fall back on), was going to make things a bit harder.
Crossing the French/Swiss border was a non-event. In fact, I would never have known I was in Switzerland, if it hadn’t been for the lone Swiss flag. At least when crossing over to Germany there was a bridge across the Rhine, lined with flags to mark the occasion.
I popped into a cafe for a celebratory coffee and to charge my phone. Two issues occurred just then. One was that I had to pay in Swiss francs and the other was that my adapter did not fit into Swiss plugs. Luckily I had some Swiss Francs that my parents had lying around and given to me for my trip. The owner took my phone through a labyrinth of back rooms to a plug that only just fitted my phone charger. After my coffee I collected my phone (that now had 25% charge) and set off for Basel.
If there were not enough flags at the border then Basel certainly made up for it. There was no doubting that this town belonged to Switzerland, there were Swiss flags strewn everywhere.
Basel is a bustling town. The sound of screeching trams echo throughout the city centre. This made me quite uneasy as they share the roads with both cars and bicycles. I arrived at the central market place and headed up the charming (tram free) high street. The street was filled with music played by live musicians, perfectly spaced apart so that as you walk along the street, the sound of one fades out, while the sound of another slowly fades in.
I sat on a bridge and watching the swimmers lazily float down the Rhine with their waterproof bags, I planned my next move. I needed to get a Swiss adapter to charge my phone, find a way to keep in contact*, and find a campsite.
* During my short escapade into Germany my phone had latched onto the German service provider and proceeded to eat up my €10 credit without me doing anything. Since my unlimited internet solution is only valid in France, I have to make another plan. So my options are to either buy another SIM card in Germany and hope to find a similar data deal, or do what I did in Ireland and use Wifi spots to preload maps and do short bursts of communications. So sorry for the sporadic posts.
I located the tourist office, where I was told about a campsite just east of Basel and a place where I could buy a Swiss adapter. Heading off to the hardware (XXL) store I found myself lost in suburbs and back near the French border. How had that happened? Obviously my internal compass had also broken. I took it as a bit of an adventure and got to see a different part of town. Eventually, I made it back to the city centre and to the hardware store, where I bought my adapter.
Having seen a fair bit of Basel, I decided to head along the Rhine to the campsite, with the option of returning later, but secretly knowing that I wouldn’t. I don’t know why but leaving the safety of being close to France was difficult.
I followed the river along a path that I realised to late was meant for pedestrians. I had to lift fully loaded Jenny up and over countless stairs before finding a gap that took me back onto a cycle-able road.
Arriving at the campsite, I set up right next to the river and went to the reception slash restaurant for a plate of chips and a beer. A bunch of 3 cycle touring brits arrived and squeezed in next to my tent. We got chatting and the 3 friends had cycled from England down through Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. They were heading further down to Lausanne before doing a loop back up to Paris. It’s seems like a lot of fun travelling in a group of three. The heavens opened in the evening as a thunderstorm rolled in. One or two small leaks have been detected but nothing major.”
Read all of Matt’s posts on his website. All of the posts about Matt on CyclingEurope.org can be found here.
What do you think?