Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Happy Birthday, Karlsruhe!

I’ve been kind of absent from my blog this week – it’s just been far too hot to spend any unnecessary time on the computer! But I have a little time now and nothing else to do, so I thought I’d better get back to it before it starts feeling like too much of a chore ;-)

Last Saturday we were invited to a birthday celebration in Königsbach, which is not far from Karlsruhe. Since we were planning on spending the night and had to change trains in Karlsruhe anyway, I asked some friends whether they would like to meet up on Sunday afternoon. A few people had time, so we arranged to meet at Marktplatz and, since it was a lovely day (or too hot if you ask me!), we ended up wandering around for a while. Karlsruhe is currently celebrating its 300th birthday – I know, so young! I’m sure its neighbours are laughing at it – there are various things going on throughout the town. For instance, you may have caught a news item about an art installation that was given a parking ticket. It actually made international news! I didn’t see that particular piece of art, but we did stop to admire a random house that was hanging above the construction site formerly known as Marktplatz:

There was a large stage in the Schlosspark and dozens of stalls with things to do an information about various companies in Karlsruhe. We ignored all of them in favour of heading for one that was selling cold drinks, but I did stop to photograph some plastic elephants who appeared to be plotting something in front of one stall…

I didn’t bother to figure out what the point was though ;-)

Sadly, our train home left before it got dark so we didn’t get to see the castle all lit up in pretty colours (a spectacle worth seeing, I’m told), but it does manage to look quite impressive even in daylight:

Karlsruhe SchloßKarlsruhe is celebrating its birthday until 27 September, which is the date that the town’s charter was published (the celebrations began on 17 June, which marked the 300th anniversary of the laying of the founding stone for the castle and is considered to be the town’s actual birthday). There are various events and exhibitions going on, so if you find yourself in Karlsruhe this summer I’m sure you’ll find something to do.

Happy Birthday Karlsruhe, and may you have many more!


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Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge

Because apparently one summer reading challenge isn’t enough, I’ve decided to sign up for another one! After all, I’ve nearly completed Megan‘s (still need to finish reading Life of Pi, but once that’s done I’m finished!). This one is being run by, among other people, Kristen from See You in A Porridge, which is how I heard of it.

The rules are as follows:

  1. The Literary Ladies book challenge will run from June 21, 2015 until September 21, 2015. Only books read during that time will count.
  2. There are 10 categories to be completed. Once you complete all 10, reading all of the books necessary to satisfy each category, you have won.
  3. You are allowed 2 rereads for this challenge in order to be considered the prizes.
  4. Switching around books from your preliminary list is fine, but you can only use a book once to satisfy one category.
  5. All books must be 200 pages in length. If you are listening to your books, be sure that it complies accordingly.
  6. The first 3 categories are mandatory. But if you do not like one or two of the other 7 categories you can skip it and replace it with one of our book club picks! You can do this twice.

Also, with this one you can win actual prizes! Although I couldn’t care less about those. I just want to read!
Here are the categories, along with my preliminary choices. I’m using this as an opportunity to cross off some more books from the BBC Big Read for my 35 before 35. Book titles link to Goodreads.

  • Read a Young Adult novel.
    Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I was given it literally years ago so I should probably read it. But it’s so looong, and my copy is German!
  • Read a novel written by a Non-US author.
    The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke (British author – I should probably have gone for a Swiss one really but I already have this waiting to be read and I don’t want to buy too many books for this challenge)
  • Read a book recommended by a blogger (or instagrammer / you-tuber / goodreads-er).
    Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy, recommended by Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons.
  • Read a book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more.
    Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley – I bought  this one at the beginning of June last year – so just over a year ago – and it’s still sitting on my bookshelf unread!
  • Read a novel with a kickass female character.
    Well, I wanted to read the third book in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden for this but I can’t find a single copy on Amazon Germany that can be delivered to Switzerland so I’ll have to have another think.
  • Read a book that is or will be a movie (or TV show)
    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
  • Read a book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam.
    Umm, maybe Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders. Or I might read Stephen Fry’s novel The Liar – I’ve already read and enjoyed another novel by him. I’ll just have to see what I can get hold of here.
  • Read a novel with a one word title.
    Persuasion by Jane Austen seems to be the only book on my shelf with a one word title that I haven’t read yet.

  • Read a suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge!
    I hope I’ll be able to tread The Girl on the Train for this, but it depends whether I can get it cheaply.
  • Read a book about summer, with summer in the title, or in any way related to summer (because this is a Summer challenge after all!)
    I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan. Not sure it’s quite what they had in mind for a summer book, but it fits the category ;-)

There are no points for the different categories in this challenge. Basically you just read them all in the time given and you’re a winner. Awesome! You can link up here.


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A photo an hour: 20 June 2015

In the middle of last week I read about a street food festival that was taking place in Olten (about 45 minutes train ride from us) on Saturday, which seemed like perfect timing – usually I find out about these things just after they occur rather than just before. When Jane pointed out that Saturday was also photo an hour day, the timing felt even more perfect. Obviously it was my fate to go! I’m planning a full post about the street food festival for later in the week, but for now here’s Saturday’s photo an hour:

10 a.m. I’m up! As usual, a cup of tea is needed before I do anything else. Trying to switch things up a bit by taking a photo of my cups in the cupboard.

11 a.m. Shower time! Look, it’s the shower in the new flat!

12 noon. Sorting out dry washing. *Yawn*

1 p.m. On the train (actually not 1 p.m. because we were busy buying tickets then and I kind of forgot about the photo. But 1 p.m. ish).

2 p.m. Still on the train. At least the view from the window was nice!

3 p.m. Waiting for some food at the festival! The weather kept switching from bright sunshine to rain literally within seconds – I felt like I was back in Britain! In this photo, it’s about to rain again.

4 p.m. Drinking lemonade from a Turkish stall. Very tasty and actually cheap!

5 p.m. Back on the train. I think we were near Sissach at this point.

6 p.m. Home! Doing a bit of cross stitch.

7 p.m. Erkältungstee time! I’m still not sure how a bunch of herbs can cure a cold, but anything’s worth a try, right?

8 p.m. Taking a break from cross stitching to read.

9 p.m. A late and light dinner since we spent the afternoon stuffing ourselves at the food festival.

10 p.m. (Ahem. Sort of). Rush (the film about Niki Lauda) was on Channel 4 so we decided to watch it. We get Channel 4 in Switzerland (and E4, More 4 and the BBC and ITV channels!).

11 p.m. Still watching Rush.

Midnight. Will this film ever end?!
It actually did end 15 minutes later then I went to bed without taking a photo. I don’t want to ruin my symmetry though, so here’s a bonus photo of the bedroom that I took a while ago to show my grandma our new place. You can see from the noon photo that we have different bedding on now.

The photo an hour roundup post isn’t up yet, but once it is you’ll find the link here.


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Hiking from Sissach to Liestal

I will get Saturday’s photo an hour post up soon, but first it’s time for another Monday Escape with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey

Jan has been determined to go hiking since we arrived in Basel, so a few weekends ago we did just that. I found a route that started in Sissach (about 20 minutes train ride away) and ended in Liestal, the capital of the half canton Basellandschaft (the capital of Basel-Stadt is, of course, Basel itself). Warning: another long, photo-heavy post ahead… the scenery is just too beautiful to resist!

The first part of the route took us from Sissach train station up to the Sissacher Fluh (a Fluh, sometimes spelled Flüh or Flue, is a rock face or cliff). That part was the steepest climb and took us about an hour.

The view from the top was well worth the climb!

You could even see Basel from up there (you can tell it’s Basel by the wedge-shaped building):

There’s a restaurant at the top, also named Sissacher Fluh. We stopped there for a cool drink and some lunch, and decided to share the Fluh platter which looked like this:

Sissacher FluhIt also came with delicious bread.

After lunch, it was time to head back down the other side of the hill. There was a kind of sculpture trail set up on the hillside, which was mostly weird and a bit pointless, but there was on sculpture I really liked:

Those of you who are connected with Confuzzledom on Facebook may have noticed that one of the moles is the new profile picture for the page. The title of the sculpture was something about politicians and looking to the future (obviously a play on the fact that moles are practically blind and can’t see very far).

This part of the route led from the Sissacher Fluh to the village of Hersberg, past another village called Nusshof. Have some more pictures:

In Hersberg, we saw some horses and stopped to refill our water bottle.

Next it was on through the woods and up the hill to Schleifenberg, which meant another hour of hiking.

Finally, we reached the top of the Schleifenberg, where there’s a viewing tower. The tower is 30m high, and after climbing up the first few levels you find yourself coming out of the trees to spectacular views. It costs 50 rappen to get into the tower and no change is given so make sure you have a 1/2 franc piece on you! Trust me, you are not going to want to miss these views! My camera could not do it justice at all – partly because it can’t cope with clouds, but mostly because it just can’t see as far as my eyes can!

Directly below us, at the base of the Schleifenberg, we could see our destination – Liestal. We still had just under an hour of walking to go before we got there though, so we decided to stop for a quick drink. We had a beer each and watched some bug (beetle?) that was crawling around the picnic bench.

On the way back down to Liestal, we came across more wildlife: hornets, a snake and a lizard (who I didn’t manage to get a photo of before he ran away):

Jan took the final hornet picture here – I wasn’t willing to get that close!

Finally, just as we were about to leave the woods and enter Liestal, we spotted a very interesting looking tree…

LiestalI don’t know how well you can see, but the roots form a kind of cave under the earth above. I actually had my photo taken inside, but it’s on Jan’s phone so I can’t access it now.
Then, just after seeing the tree, we finally reached the outskirts of Liestal.

First glimpse of Liestal

First glimpse of Liestal

With a population of just over 14,000, although it’s the capital of Basellandschaft, Liestal is not exactly large. It’s an industrial town, but it has a very pretty old town centre, which we walked around for a while.

There are three museums in Liestal (the cantonal museum for Basellandschaft, a town museum for Liestal and an organ museum), but being late afternoon on a Saturday in a small town, all of them were closed – as were the shops. By that time we were tired out from our long hike (13 km, in case anyone was wondering) so we left Liestal and took the train back home. My leg muscles hated me the next morning, but it was worth it for the gorgeous we saw along the way. I still can’t believe all of this is literally on my doorstep!

My Travel Monkey


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Friday letters

Wow, it’s Friday again already. These weekends keep rolling around so fast! I can’t believe we’re almost half way through June already! I thought I’d got rid of my cold, but this week either it came back with a vengeance or I caught a new (worse!) one. Luckily Jan had to go to Germany yesterday so I enlisted him to buy me some Erkältungstee (tea for colds) since the only one I’ve discovered here so far was incredibly expensive and contained only thyme. I have thyme tea already from my foodie penpals package and I haven’t noticed it doing anything for my cold! The one Jan fetched from Germany contains thyme as well, but at least it also has willow bark, which has the same active ingredient as Aspirin and at least has a chance of helping. Obviously I would prefer real medicine but I’m down to my last sachet of Lemsip and I’m reluctactant to use it unless I’m so ill I can’t get out of bed. When it’s gone it’s gone! I found out this week that I’m actually not covered by my German insurance because I work from home and the Swiss class that as working from Switzerland (even though my employer is German!), so now I have to sort out Swiss health insurance and try to get an exemption from t he German one so I’m not paying twice. Swiss health insurance is, of course, more expensive and covers less, so that sucks. Will things ever actually be sorted?! Oh well, letters!

letter boxDear health insurance woman. Thank you for calling me to let me know you wouldn’t cover me before I received the official letter. That way I was at least able to be prepared.

Dear “cold” tea. I hope you work because you’re all I’ve got right now!

Dear Alyson Hannigan. I saw a iny bit of How I Met Your Mother while flicking through channels the other day and I swear you haven’t aged at all since my days of watching you in Buffy. What’s your secret?

Dear weather. It would be nice if you could actually stay the same for more than two days in a row some time!

OK, that’s all from me. I hope you all have a great weekend! Tomorrow (20 June) is another photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa – you really should join in! I’m planning on heading to a street food festival so I will actually have something to take photos of for a change!


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Would you rather…? (Travel version)

I’m sure we all remember the old game where you’re given a choice between two difficult (or disgusting!) things and made to pick which one you would rather do if you had no choice. Well, I saw this travel version over on Diana’s blog a while ago and was immediately intrigued, but I’m only getting round to stealing it now. So, without further ado, the questions…

Madeira sunriseScenario: you have a €10,000 budget for your vacation.
Q: Would you rather fly first class for €5,000 and stay in mediocre accommodation; or stay in luxury accommodation for €3,000 and fly economy?
Hmm, luxury accommodation isn’t that important to me (I only use the room for sleeping and showering!), but then again neither is flying first class. Unless I was flying to Australia or something, in which case a more comfortable seat might help. I think I’ll pick the luxury accommodation option though purely because that leaves me with extra money to spend on experiences during my holiday (I’m just assuming luxury accommodation+economy flight comes to less than first class flight+mediocre accommodation).

Q: Would you rather have an all expenses paid trip to a small town in the Netherlands with your best friends or an all expenses paid trip to your dream destination with your frenemy?
Well, I’m not sure I have a “dream” destination – there are many places I’m desperate to go to – and I had a fabulous time when I visited my friend in Delft a few years ago. Plus I don’t actually live in the same country as any of my friends right now, so the choice is pretty simple. Give me the small town in the Netherlands with friends please!

Q: Would you rather have a cup of tea with Jon Hamm or Josh Homme? (Diana changed this question to “Would you rather have a beer with the cast of parenthood or the original grey’s anatomy cast?” but I’ve never watched either so I’ve reverted back to the original question).
I’ve never actually heard either name, but googling tells me Jon Hamm stars in Mad Men (never watched it) and Josh Homme is the lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age. I like Queens of the Stone Age so I choose him :-)

Q: Would you rather never take the train or never take the aeroplane again?
(Sorry, but I had to change airplane to aeroplane!). This is actually really difficult! Never be able to quickly get to England again if there was a family emergency or no more day trips? I suppose I’d have to choose never taking the train again and then learn to drive so I can get to the office once a month! I’m assuming trams also count as trains, but luckily I can also take the bus into town from where I live.

Q: Would you rather spend a full day with a thief or with a beggar?
Beggar. I would get them a shower, new clothes and a hot meal and ask them how they ended up in that situation. After having my purse stolen in Paris (with the only photo I owned of my step mum!) I would probably punch the thief!

Scenario: you have won a prize with two options, and you can choose either but not both.
Q: Would you rather spend a year in the USA with a monthly stipend of $1,000 or be ten minutes on the moon?
I have no interest in going to the moon, but a whole year in America sounds like a lot (sorry Americans!). What if I get ill? Would my §1,000 stipend include health insurance – I’ve seen ER guys, I know what happens to uninsured people! I would still choose the US though, and spend the entire year travelling.

Q: Would you rather wake up without your wallet or without your passport and phone?
I had my purse (that’s British English, so it means money holder not handbag!) stolen in Paris and it was horrible! However, cancelling cards, etc. was more annoying than anything else and passports are expensive so I suppose I’d have to wake up without my purse and hope I’d just lost it and it would actually get handed in somewhere!
Q: Would you rather be left behind in the bush on an African safari or Be left behind in the water on a scuba trip?
Both options sound terrifying, but I’m not a great swimmer so the bush would be the better option. I might get mauled by a lion but at least I wouldn’t drown! And hopefully another safari group would eventually come by and find me.
Q: Would you rather loose your luggage but land on time OR land 12 hours late with your luggage intact?
Assuming the late landing was because of a late take off and not because we’d been randomly flying in circles for 12 hours, I’d pick the latter. I’m also basing my answer on the assumption that I’d actually be allowed to leave the airport and wouldn’t be stuck in departures for 12 hours!
Q: Would you rather bike across the US from New York City to San Francisco, or bike across China from Beijing to Tibet?
Umm, I’d really rather not bike anywhere to be honest. I hate cycling! However, since I have to pick one, I want whichever involves the least cycling on the road!

Scenario: you’re stuck on a deserted island, and can only take one book.
Q: Would you rather take the Unbearable Lightness of Being or Dracula?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being because I’ve already read Dracula. I would prefer to have something new (then I’d have to ration myself to only a few pages a day to make it last longer!)

Q: Would you rather be able to teleport to places you’ve been to or only be able to teleport to places you’ve never been before?
Places I’ve already been. Much as I love visiting new places, being able to quickly teleport home if a family member was seriously ill, for example, decides this one for me. If I wasn’t so far from home the decision would be more difficult…


Q: Would you rather be stuck on a seven-hour delay, or turn up at the airport and realise your flight is tomorrow?
Turning up a day early actually sounds like something I would do! Hmm, I think I’d prefer the embarrassment of being early to being stuck in an airport for seven hours. I just hope it would either be the flight out (so I could just go home) or I’d be able to easily find a new hotel room in whichever city I was in.

Phew, finished. That was hard work! If you feel like doing the tag, please let me know in the comments so I can see your answers! The tag originally appeared here.


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Mount Pilatus and Luzern

DSCN150523-25 May saw yet another long weekend – the final one for a while – this time for Pfingsten (Whit sun or Pentecost). We decided to make use of the time off and nice weather and take another day trip. We chose Mount Pilatus in the canton of Luzern (or Lucerne) because Jan wanted to go up somewhere high where he could get a good view. Unfortunately for him, the top of the mountain was actually in the clouds ;-) Mount Pilatus is home to the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, so we decided to buy a ticket for a circular route which involved a train from Luzern to Alpnachstad, the trip up the mountain with the cogwheel railway, back down the mountain via cable car to Kriens (a neighbouring town of Luzern) and then a bus back to Luzern proper.

On the way up, there were some lovely views of the surrounding countryside and the mountain we were on.

Down on the ground, it had been a gorgeous sunny day, but the higher the little train climbed the colder it got, until eventually we saw snow.

As I mentioned, up at the top we mostly saw cloud, and most of the routes were blocked because of the snow. However, what we did see were birds. I’m pretty sure they’re a type of crow (my friend looked them up after seeing one of my photos and they appear to be an Alpine chough or yellow-billed chough). There were loads of them hovering around, sitting on the railings and trying to get people to feed them scraps – it was like gulls at the beach, but less noisy and prettier.

At some point, the cloud below cleared slightly and we were able to see some of what was back down the mountain – there still wasn’t much of a view, but it was certainly an improvement! I also attempted to take a few photos of the cogwheel trains heading back down, but my camera just couldn’t do justice to the steepness.

Since there was nowhere to walk to and we’d seen everything we could, we decided to head back down with the next cable car. First of all, a large cable car took us down to Fräkmüntegg. There’s a restaurant at that stop and a rope park. Photos taken through glass are never the best, but have a few of the view from the cable car anyway:

From Fräkmuntegg, smaller gondolas take you back down to Kriens at the base of the mountain. They also stop at Krienseregg, where the map says there’s a children’s play area, but we didn’t get out there. Here, have some views from that cable car. Actually, the route went through the trees, so what you’re really getting is a bunch of pictures of trees with the occasional view when a gap between them allowed us to see something!

On arriving in Kriens, we walked the five minutes to the bus stop then took the number 1 back to Luzern. It was still fairly early, so we decided to have a wander around there. We’d been before when I was living in Austria, but other than the wooden bridge, the town hall clock and the city walls neither of us remembered much. We tried to find the restaurant we ate at back then – where I tried cheese fondue for the first time – but either it’s closed down or we have no idea where it actually was. What I did remember is that the lake is beautiful, and I wasn’t wrong! Also, swans. Last time we were there I remember seeing a swan building a nest. This time, they were just swimming around. We also decided to stop for a beer before heading back to the train, which we did at the Rathaus restaurant. The beer there was pretty tasty.

Fun fact – although the lake is just called Lake Lucerne in English, its German name is Vierwaldstättersee, which means Lake of the Four Forested Cantons. The original Drei Waldstätten (three forested cantons) were Uri, Schwyz and Unterwald – the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy (basically the original Switzerland). They were joined by Luzern in 1332 and that’s where the lake got its name. End of today’s Swiss history lesson ;-)

Luzern is an absolutely gorgeous city and well worth a visit by itself. And if you’ve got a little more time I would definitely recommend the trip up Mount Pilatus. Hopefully you’ll pick a day with less cloud at the top ;-)

*I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. You can join in here.*

Packing my Suitcase
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