Why I would be terrible at solo travel

On Friday there was a jazz festival in Basel (honestly, in August you can’t set foot in town without finding some kind of event!). Jan had to work late because of a major problem with one of their projects and of the two people we occasionally hang out with here one was on holiday and the other had originally thought about coming but then emailed me to say she was too tired. Unfortunately I didn’t receive the email before I left the house, so I ended up at jazz festival alone. After waiting around for 15 minutes in the hope that acquaintance might still show up, I headed off to look for some music alone. It wasn’t long before I saw this:

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With nobody to turn to and remark that there was no mistaking what that stand was selling, I settled for taking a photo for my blog. Unfortunately, I feel like my comment loses something in the retelling…

I wandered around the old town for a while, following the crowds, until I heard some music that I liked the sound of. This band seemed like they weren’t entirely sure whether they wanted to be a jazz band or a rock band:

Unfortunately I never did catch their name. I stood and watched for a while, all alone, surrounded by people drinking beer, chatting with friends and generally having a good time. The music was certainly different to anything I’d ever heard before, but after a while I lost interest and decided to go and find something to eat. A stall selling a kind of Frikadelle (meat patty, but different to a burger) didn’t have much of a queue, so I bought one and munched on it while walking around the old town some more.

In a kind of courtyard, I found more music –  a trio this time (a third person is hidden behind the sculpture thing) and stopped for a listen.

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When the second song they played sounded almost exactly like the first, I decided to move on. It was about to get dark by this time and I didn’t have any money for a drink even if I’d felt like standing around by myself with a beer, so I gave up on a the festival and headed back to the tram stop, passing those same beer-shaped balloons on the way.

Somehow, I had much more fun last year when I attended the jazz festival with Jan and some friends who were visiting.

I admire anyone who can get out and do things or go travelling by themselves, but personally I prefer to have some company! Being all alone while everyone else is with their friends quickly gets boring (and I’m not the type who can go up to an established group and strike up a conversation…)

Nothing against the festival though. Em Bebbi sy Jazz is a fantastic event and the old town is the perfect setting for it!

Guess the cross stitch volume 4 – the reveal

We will not be moving on to round four of this edition of guess the cross stitch because we’ve already had some correct guesses! Yes, that’s right, plural. More than one person got it right.

But before we move on with the reveal, let’s look at what you had to work with last time and your responses.

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Beth from Ami im Schwabenland guessed a pony or more specifically, a rocking horse, although the head is kind of big. Possibly a rocking dragon, but I’ll stick with rocking horse – with a rider. One of those guesses was close…

Lady of the Cakes, who previously guessed a lake full of naked people, said “Oh no, the naked people have peed in the lake!“. Funnily enough, that’s not what I was stitching…

Maia guessed Yoshi, which I liked a lot.

Kerri from Life as Unusuals thought it looked familiar and maybe like Spyro, except he was purple (a purple dragon from a computer game for those who don’t know). She then went on to guess some kind of dragon and gave a pirate map as her second guess.

Elaine from I Used to be Indecisive thought it might be a seasick clown. Not quite…

BerLinda said that I was turning it into a tap-dancing frog. At least she’s consistent😉

Charlotte said she was going to guess either Yoshi or a winged dragon, but people had already said those. It still counts if you guess the same as other people, Charlotte!

Kezzie guessed two dinosaurs fighting up a tree. So creative!

Finally, TexErin listed every green animal she could think of and asked “Is it a parrot? Or a dinosaur? Or an alligator? Or crocodile? (because we know it’s not a frog or a turtle – haha!)

So what on Earth was I stitching? Here’s your answer:

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Well done Beth, Kerri and Charlotte! It is indeed a dragon, although not a rocking one.

Thanks for playing everyone:-)

25 Food Questions Tag

I totally stole this tag from Kerri because I’m just too tiiiired to do another travel post right now. All that sorting of photos – ugh! Food, on the other hand, I can do. Here goes:

1. What’s your favourite breakfast?

A full English or Irish breakfast, obviously. Not that I would want to eat that every day, but as a special treat, mmmm! Failing that a bacon sarnie with proper English bacon.

Full Irish breakfast
Full Irish breakfast

2. How do you drink your coffee?

With all the milk. If I can’t have one that’s more milk than coffee I need to add all the sugar. I also like horribly sweet concoctions à la Starbucks except not actually Starbucks because I don’t go there.

3. What’s on your favourite sandwich?

Don’t you mean in? No open-topped sarnies over here please! Feta, avocado and rocket please! Or bacon with brown sauce.

4. Soup or Salad?

Well it clearly depends on the weather, doesn’t it? Soup if it’s cold, salad when it’s too hot to cook (or I’m too lazy).

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5. What’s your favourite cookbook?

I have one called Healthy Eats that’s pretty good, but realistically all my recipes come from the Internet soo… BBC Good Food?

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?

I think it has to be sweets. I would miss chocolate, but I would miss mashed potatoes more!

7. What’s your favourite Cuisine?

Probably Indian, but British-style Indian. I’d have to go to India to decide whether I like the real deal.

8. What’s your favourite food movie?

I totally have to steal Kerri’s answer here and say Ratatouille because the only other food film I can think of is Chocolat and I hated that! (Book is so much better!)

9. What’s your most guilty pleasure?

Umm… I don’t know? There’s nothing I feel guilty about eating (well, other than too much and that could be too much of almost anything. Except maybe lettuce leaves.)

10. What’s your greatest inspiration source?

I feel bad that I’m stealing all of Kerri’s answers, but my stomach is just so perfect a response! Failing that my inspiration comes from whatever random stuff we have lying around after I’ve failed to go shopping again.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?

Cooking and having to deal with the mess or letting someone else do all the work? I prefer the latter. Although I actually do enjoy cooking for friends (Christmas dinner for 9 anyone?) so what I’m really saying is I would rather not have to cook every single day after work (but life would rapidly get expensive if we always ate out instead. So unfair)

12. High end or low profile?

I don’t understand the question… high end is expensive, right? But what’s low profile? Like a place nobody else knows about? Those two things aren’t opposites, are they? I’m so confused!

13. What’s your favourite restaurant?

I don’t have one – I like to keep trying new ones.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:

One of two local supermarkets. One is closer, the other sells the teabags I like. Sometimes I go to Aldi but it’s on the other side of Basel so it rarely happens.

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Not the supermarket I usually go to, but the only one I have a photo of.

15. The tastiest food I’ve ever eaten was:

EVER?! That’s a lot of food for you to expect me to just pick one thing from…

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?

I had to google the Heston guy… apparently he’s a TV chef? Neither, really but if I absolutely have to pick one then George Clooney just because I still love E.R.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?

A freezer. I didn’t have one for about 3 years and it was so annoying!

19. What is your favourite snack?

All the British crisps… Monster Munch, Wotsits, Skips, Hula Hoops. Sadly I almost never get to eat them.

20. What’s on your pizza?

It really depends what I’m in the mood for, but bacon, yellow peppers and feta is a good combo. Plus the normal pizza cheese of course.

21. What food do you really dislike?

Broccoli – it’s the devil. Also sweetcorn, green peppers, mushrooms and liver.

22. What’s your favourite food blog?

Don’t know… don’t read any.

23. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oyster omelette. Also the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. Maybe that should have been the answer to question 21?

24. What’s on your food bucket list?

Drink champagne in Champagne and port in Porto. Yes I’m aware those are drinks, but so is coffee. I also want to eat frog’s legs in France… there, I included a food!

25. I couldn’t live without:

Potatoes. I will also accept sweet potatoes as a substitute.

I tag everyone who feels like telling me about their eating habits. And now, appropriately, I’m off to find something to cook for dinner.

Graubünden – June 2016

I’m slowly catching up on blogging my Take 12 Trips adventures for 2016. With this post, I’m only two months behind!

At the beginning of June, a colleague of Jan’s was playing at an accordion festival in Disentis Abbey. Disentis is in the canton of Graubünden (of Grisons in French), which we had herd was a beautiful area with lots of amazing scenery and many hiking opportunities, so we decided we would go down there for a weekend, watch the colleague perform on the Saturday and then spend the Sunday hiking before returning home, ready for work on Monday. We booked a hotel in Breils or Brigels (Graubünden is trilingual canton!) and set off bright and early on Saturday morning. The plan was to walk from Brigels train station to the hotel, but it turned out to be at least an hour’s walk up the mountain, so instead we took the Postauto (bus run by Swiss Post). Brigels is a cute little town that probably has a beautiful view on clear days… I wouldn’t know, we had clouds😉 After checking in to our hotel, we bought a sandwich from the supermarket and ate it on a bench overlooking the town. Here are some photos from Brigels:

After we had eaten, we took the bus back down to the train station. After checking what time the last bus back to Brigels would be (pretty early!), we took the train to Disentis and went in search of the accordion festival. The festival was also part festival, so we watched a number of groups play the same pieces before Jan’s colleague’s group took to the stage. This group was more professional than the others and was taking part non-competitively so they could just play without worrying about points. Even non-musical me noticed that they were much better than the others! We decided not to stay for the rest of the competition and went for a quick walk around Disentis. It turned out there wasn’t much to see and I took a grand total of four photos there!

Soon it was time to head back to the train station so we could catch the bus back to Brigels. Once up there, we walked around for a bit (but I took no photos because I had forgotten my memory card and had only the memory on the camera itself, meaning I was limited in how many I could take!) then had a delicious dinner at the hotel before getting an early night. We wanted to be up early the next day to fit in a nice hike before we had to go home!

After breakfast the next day we headed out to catch the bus back down to the train station and from there took a train to a station called Oberalppasshöhe on the Operalp Pass, a pass high up in the mountains. We wanted to hike to the source of the Rhine, which is considered to be at the Tomasee (Lag da Toma, or Toma Lake), but the hiking paths weren’t officially open yet and there was still some snow around so we didn’t quite make it. We could see that some people had already crossed the snow and presumably gone all the way up, but my shoes weren’t quite good enough and I was scared to cross the largest expanses of snow! We had a lovely hike anyway though and ended up walking around for roughly 3.5 hours, which isn’t bad (especially since it rained part of the time)! I’ve promised Jan I will go back with him when the weather is better and actually go all the way to the lake.

The Rhine ends in Rotterdam, where it flows into the North Sea, so near where the train stops at the start of the hiking trail there is a lighthouse, a smaller replica of one in Rotterdam. Apparently the replica at the Oberalp Pass is the highest lighthouse in the world. But enough rambling, I’m sure what you really want is photos!

 

A second gallery… too many photos for one! (As always, click photos to enlarge)

The staff at a restaurant  near the train station had kindly agreed to look after our luggage for us, so when we went to pick it up we decided we deserved a treat after all that hiking in the snow. Beer and Bünder Gerstensuppe (barley soup). We also had cake but I scoffed that too quickly for a photo😉

Finally it was time to be on our way. The train home took us on a beautiful route, over a gorge and then around the other side of Lake Lucerne, through Schywz (a tiny canton, but the one that gives Switzerland its name). Two train changes later, we were finally home where we went straight to bed ready for a week of work starting the next day!

This first trip to Graubünden was incredibly short, but it’s okay – it definitely won’t be our last!

Linking up with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey for Monday Escapes.

Travel Monkey

Guess the cross stitch volume 4 – Round 3

Nobody guessed right in round 2, so we can move on to round 3. But first let’s have a look at the responses from last time.

Here’s what you were working with:

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And here’s what all my lovely readers had to say:

Lady of the Cakes said I had ripped off one of her photos and was stitching a swirly lake with naked people in it. The perfect card for a little boy, don’t you think?

Sarah from Life of Ryrie guessed a witch, possibly the one from Room on the Broom. As soon as I read that I immediately saw the witch! Unfortunately, that’s not the answer.

Kerri from Life as Unusuals thought it might be a ninja turtle. The recipient would love that, I’m sure, but nope.

Zoe guessed The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. A bit early in the year maybe?

BerLinda was mostly relieved that I’m not already doing Christmas things! And guessed a tap-dancing frog. I actually love that idea😀

Erin from TexErin in Sydneyland also guessed a frog, based on her strategy of thinking of anything green! It’s actually not a bad guess, but it’s not the right answer.

Elaine from I Used to be Indecisive thought it might be the Loch Ness Monster. Since nobody actually knows what Nessie looks like it definitely could be😀

Finally, Kezzie guessed a leprechaun, since she was on a boat to Ireland, and also asked whether I was deliberately stitching in an obtuse order to confuse you all with colours and shapes. As if I would😉

For round 3, I’ve added a bit more colour for you. Maybe that will help? What do you see in this picture?

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Answers in the comments, via Twitter or on the Facebook page!

 

Huningue and the Rheinuferweg

One grey day at the end of May, Jan and I were bored. I suggested that we could take a tram to the border and walk across the Three Countries Bridge to see what’s in Huningue. The answer is not much! But it’s a cute little town.I actually ended up going there again with my mum and brother so they could say they’d been in three countries in one day (and also get a glass of wine for cheaper than in Switzerland…)

There’s a white water rafting/kayaking place in Huningue and there turned out to be a competition going on that day with participants from all over France, so that’s what those photos are all about.

We ended up walking back to Basel along the Rheinuferweg – Rhine waterfront path – which connects St. Johanns Park in Basel with Huningue in France. At the moment the part on the French side is only open on weekends while they finish renovating the area that used to be a sewage treatment plant, but as of 2017 it’s supposed to be open during the week as well. Part of the path is the Dreyland Dichterweg, or Three Countires Poet Path, which involves various boards containing poems by poets from the region – in French, German and Swiss German. The total length of the path is only 550m and part of it goes alongside the industrial area, but it’s still quite nice to walk along by the river. I hardly took any photos, but here are the ones I did take:

The first bridge you see up there is the Dreirosenbrücke, literally Three Roses Bridge, but don’t be fooled by the pretty name… there’s nothing pretty about that area! The white bridge on photo two is the Three Countries Bridge with Huningue (France) on the left and Weil am Rhein (Germany) on the right. The final photo is the evidence that we actually walked across the border😉

If you’re in Basel and want to walk along the path there are two options take a tram (8) or bus (36) to Kleinhüningeranlage and, from there, walk across the bridge into Weil am Rhein (or take the 8 all the way into Weil am Rhein if you prefer), cross the Dreiländerbrücke into Hunigue and turn left to walk along the Rhine. Keep walking until you reach Basel. Alternatively, take a tram (8, 11) to Johanniterbrücke and start walking along the river towards the Dreirosenbrücke. Go under that bridge and just carry on walking until you reach the Dreiländerbrücke. From there, you can cross the bridge back to Germany and take a tram back to Basel. Not a bad little afternoon out!

Hike from Sommerau to Läufelfingen

Hey guys! There have already been some great guesses for round two of What Am I Stitching. I’ll move on to round three soon, but in the meantime click the link if you still want to guess. For now, I’m going to tell you about a hike we went on in May. Yes, I’m slightly behind with my travel blogging…

We hadn’t been hiking for a while and we decided that May would be a good time to do it, before it got too hot (although the summer has also been mostly chilly so far, with the odd very hot day!). I got online – I like to use http://wanderungen.ch/ – and found a promising looking hike that wasn’t too far away, a discovery trail from Sommerau, along a small stream to a waterfall, then up the hill to a viewing tower on top of the Wisenberg mountain. From Basel SBB, we took the train, changed once in Sissach and arrived in Sommerau at 10:17 a.m.

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The start of the hike, near the train station in Sommerau

We walked along the little stream – called Chrindelbach – for about half an hour before reaching the Giessen waterfall; an appropriate name as giessen means “to pour”. The 18 km high waterfall marks the end of the valley – from there, it’s all uphill!

After the waterfall, the route leads out of the woods for a short while, past farms and fields of dandelions. One farm had set up a little refreshment stand with a coffee machine and some other drinks. So cute!

After the dandelions, the path led back into the woods for a short distance, and in the middle of the trees we found the Wisenberg viewing tower. At around 25m tall, the top of viewing platform provides an amazing view over the trees. You can even see the Alps! (Although they were hard to capture with my camera. I did my best!).

Back down from the tower, we left the woods again and walked past another farm. This next photo is the most Swiss thing ever…. green field, cows, Alps. All that’s missing is a bar of chocolate😉

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From there, we hiked past more farms, pretty flowers, lots of green and a few more animals until we reached Läufelfingen train station, where we had a beer (which I didn’t photograph) before taking the train back to Basel. Here are some photos from the last stage of our hike:

Now the tourist information part: the total hiking time was roughly 3 hours and 40 minutes. We took just over 4 hours from start to finish, including all the photo stops. You can also take a bus to Wisen and walk up to the tower from there, which will take about an hour.

This was my May 2016 trip for  Take 12 Trips 2016.