Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica

Wow, my last post got a bit deep, didn’t it? I think it’s about time I counteracted that with another travel post.

In September, Jan’s dad came to visit us for a weekend and we took a day trip to Rheinfelden and Kaiseraugst. I’ve already shared photos of Rheinfelden on the blog once, but our last visit was in December. This time the sky was a lot less grey!

We didn’t cross over into the German Rheinfelden on this visit (it’s really not worth it, except to say you walked across a border), but we did go onto the little island that can be accessed from the bridge.

It was a boiling hot day and plenty of people (and dogs!) were bathing in the river.

Once we’d seen enough of the island, it was time to head back to the train station and on to Kaiseraugst, home of the Augusta Raurica Roman site.

We walked for ages through farmland, the sun baking us alive and birds circling overhead.

Eventually we spied some Roman ruins. This is the ruins of a temple:

We had been following signs for the amphitheatre because we thought that was what we wanted to see. Turns out there isn’t much left of the amphitheatre:

What we were actually looking for was just the plain old theatre, so that’s where we headed next.

Aha… that’s more like it!

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Kaiseraugst Roman theatre

 

Augusta Raurica hosts events throughout the summer (including a Roman festival) and on this particular day they were setting up for a concert. Luckily we managed to get in and have a look around before they blocked off the entrances.

There’s also an indoor museum area (with a Roman house), which we did not go into, and a few other Roman bits and bobs dotted around.

After enjoying a nice cold beer, we walked back towards town past the train station and down to the river… instead of taking another train, the plan was to travel back to Basel by boat. We had a bit of time to spare, so we took off our shoes and stood on some steps with our feet in the water. It was lovely and refreshing!

The boat back to Basel passes through two locks, at the Augst and Birsfelden run-of-the-river power plants.

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll only include a few of the photos I took during our boat trip. Also, until we were actually approaching Basel I have no idea where the majority of the photos were taken.

Our boat was the Christoph Merian, for those who are interested.

All in all it was a lovely day out and one I would definitely take again if future visitors showed an interest.

This was my September trip for Take 12 Trips 2016 (I’m slowly catching up!)

Bad Säckingen

Since tomorrow is NOVEMBER I think it’s about time I catch up on my travel posts, especially since the trip I’m about to tell you about took place on my birthday, which was back in August! Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger.

I first heard of Bad Säckingen thanks to a restaurant in Karlsruhe with the name Trompeter von Säckingen (which has since closed… there’s now an African restaurant in the premises). Intrigued by the name, I asked Jan about it and he told me it was the name of a book by Joseph Viktor von Scheffel, which is loosely based on a true story that took place in Bad Säckingen (which back then was just called Säckingen – Bad in the name of a town means it’s a spa town, and Säckingen became Bad Säckingen in 1978. There’s your German/history lesson for today). Intrigued by the story, I looked the town up and discovered it was supposed to be pretty and decided I wanted to go there… a fact that Jan reminded me of when I was debating where to go on my birthday.

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My friend K came down for my birthday and came with us to Bad Säckingen. It’s in Germany, but only takes about 20 minutes to get to from Basel Badischer Bahnhof.

First of all, we went for a little walk around the town. I promise the only editing I’ve done on the photos below is resizing them to save space on the blog. It just was that nice a day!

The town centre isn’t huge and before long we were back down at the river and the other thing Bad Säckingen is famous for (for a given vale of the word “famous”) – its wooden bridge. The town on the other side of the bridge is called Stein and it’s in Switzerland. The border is in the middle of the river, so of course we had to have some fun standing in two countries at once. In one of the photos below, you can see mine and K’s feet right on the border marking… the closest you will ever get to seeing a photo of one of my friends on this here blog 😉

We headed to the Schlosspark (castle gardens) next, where we found a few trumpeters!

Finally it was time for a late lunch. We went to a steak restaurant called Marco Polo where I had bison because I had never tried it before. Plus a beer… it was my birthday after all!

I took another few photos as we wandered back down towards the river, then we walked along to the weir where many cormorants were hanging out waiting for the easy fish pickings.

One more quick glance down the river, and it was off back to the train station and home to Basel.

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The Rhine, the bridge and Bad Säckingen (plus green, green hills!)

Bad Säckingen is not exactly huge and I’m not sure what you would do there on a rainy day (although there is a trumpet museum in the castle), but on a sunny afternoon it’s well worth a wander around. If you had a bit more time you could even cross the river and take a walk into Stein… I’m not sure whether there’s anything there worth looking at, but you could at least say you’d spent the day in both Germany and Switzerland…

Bad Säckingen was my August trip for Take 12 Trips 2016.

Views from the top of Basel cathedral

Apparently after posting every single day the week before last I was slightly burned out, hence no post at all last week! We also had Jan’s dad staying this weekend so there wasn’t really time for the blogosphere. I promise to come and read everyone’s blogs soon though!

The day after we went to the Rhine Falls with my mum and brother, I took them to Mariastein Abbey and the ruins of the Landskron castle. My photos from that day aren’t much different to the ones here though, so I will move straight on to July when Jan’s mum and her partner were visiting. We decided to climb up the tower of Basel Cathedral, which I hadn’t even known was possible until then! It was a gorgeous sunny day, which made for some great views:

The red tower in the last picture is part of the town hall (Rathaus) and the interesting looking roof at the front is the Museum der Kulturen (Museum of Cultures).

It was nice to see the roof of the cathedral up close – I think it’s really pretty!

Finally, some photos of the gargoyles. They always amuse me 🙂

And once again I was left thinking “Wow, I actually live here!”.

The two towers of Basel Cathedral – Georgsturm and Martinsturm – can be climbed any time that the cathedral is open for a fee of 5 francs (payable at the information desk).

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

Travel theme: Deep

Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is Deep, which is a perfect description of the huge gorge that divides Luxembourg.

Luxembourg bridge

Cheating a little, with a photo I’ve used before, but the River Tyne is pretty deep…

Bridges of Newcastle
The River Tyne and bridges of Newcastle

… as is the River Rhine:

The Rhine in Koblenz
The Rhine in Koblenz

… and the Irish Sea at Bray:

Bray

But enough water. Other things can be deep too… like this writing that forms part of the East Side Gallery on the remains of the Berlin Wall:

Viele kleine Leute

Those Africans are very profound!

To join in with the travel theme and see other interpretations of deep, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

Look Up, Look Down – Deutsches Eck

Today is a holiday here, for German Reunification Day, and what better day to honour that than by using some very German photos for today’s Look Up, Lood Down entry. The following photos were taken in Koblenz at the Deutsches Eck (German corner). Both photos have featured on the blog before, in my post about our trip to Koblenz, but I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for reusing them 😉

Photo one was taken from the top of the Kaiser Wilhelm monument, looking down on the Deutsches Eck… the point where the Rhein and Mosel rivers meet.

Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument
Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument

And photo two is the opposite view… a picture taken looking up at the Kaiser Wilhelm monument from the Deutsches Eck:

Kaiser Wilhelm I
Kaiser Wilhelm I

Do you have a photo that would be just perfect for the theme of look up, look down? Check out Travel With Intent’s blog post to see other people’s interpretations and join in with the challenge!

Koblenz

Jan and I went to Koblenz in April 2011, when they were hosting the Bundesgartenschau or BUGA (National Garden Show). It was Easter weekend, but unlike this year and the year we went to Worms, the weather on that day was absolutely stunning!

The Rhine in Koblenz
The Rhine in Koblenz

The name Koblenz originates from the Latin confluentes, i.e. confluence, meaning “at the merging of the rivers”, which should give you a clue to the town’s location… Koblenz is situated on both banks of the River Rhine at its confluence with the River Mosel. The headland where the two rivers meet is known as the Deutsches Eck (German corner) and features a huge replica of a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I (the original was destroyed by the French in World War II).

Kaiser Wilhelm I
Kaiser Wilhelm I

In May 1953, Theodor Heuss (who was German president at that time) rededicated the plinth of the statue as a monument to German unity and had the coats of arms of all the Bundesländer (including those in the East that, at the time, had been “lost” to the Soviets)  installed there. The flags of all the states are also flown at the end of the Eck, along with the Germany flag.

Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument
Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument

It’s a great place to sit and watch the world (and the river) go by.

Having viewed the famous German corner, it was time to go and look at some flowers! Well, what else is one to do when the entire town has been taken over by a garden show?

Flowers

Flowers and statue

The photos above were taken in the grounds of a church right next to the Deutsches Eck, the Kastorkirche (St. Kastor’s Church). Here it is:

St. Kastor's Church
St. Kastor’s Church

After viewing the area around the Deutsches Eck, we took the cable car (installed especially for the BUGA and still in place) up to the other side of the Rhine and the grounds of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

Koblenz from above
Koblenz from above

There were some flower tents up there and a few other interesting things, including bee hives! Here are some of the flowers we saw in the tents:

BUGA Koblenz 1

BUGA Koblenz 2

BUGA Koblenz 3

Before heading back down into town, we also decided to have a look at the fortress itself. I have no photos taken at the fortress, for some reason, but the museum inside was quite interesting. Here’s what Ehrenbreitstain looks like when viewed from Koblenz:

Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz
Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz

Back down on the other side of the Rhine, we headed to the third area of the Gartenschau, the Kurfürstliche Schloss or Electoral Palace.

Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz
Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz

Once in the palace gardens, we followed the sound of tweeting until we found these guys:

BirdsOf course, there were also more flowers.

Flowers 2

The restaurant at the back of the palace was surpisingly inexpensive, and before heading back to the train station, we ate a delicious platter of cheese, grapes and various types of bread, plus a glass of wine each.

Koblenz is a beautiful town, but doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as some I’ve been to. The main ones have been mentioned in this post: The fortress, the Electoral Palace and, most famous of all, the Deutsches Eck. On a sunny day, it’s definitely worth a visit but if it’s raining, I’d maybe give it a miss – other than the museum in the Electoral Palce (which we didn’t visit as only the gardens were open during the flower show), I didn’t really notice anything for visitors to do indoors. Koblenz isn’t my favourite German town that I’ve visited, but I wouldn’t object if I was given the chance to go there again.