Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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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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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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Urban golf in Fribourg

Swiss rail has various summer offers, so a few weeks ago we decided to make use of one that involved the train to Fribourg plus a Fribourg city card for 92 francs (that’s roughly 88 euros or 64 pounds) per person. Fribourg, or Freiburg to give it its German name (although at least in this part of German-speaking Switzerland it’s referred to by its French name to distinguish it from the Freiburg in Germany), is right on the border between French and German-speaking Switzerland – officially, it’s a bilingual canton but more people have French as their first language than German (although most people speak both to some degree). Our Fribourg cards included something called Stadtgolf, or urban golf, so we decided to give it a try. Basically you get given a golf club and a ball each plus a map which tells you where the holes are. At those points, you look out for a blue pole and a red pole – the blue one is the start and the red one is the end. Like so:

The holes are dotted about throughout Fribourg, and the leaflet  with the map includes a score chart on the back and, in the middle, brief information about the sites where each holes is located, so what you end up with is a mixture of mini golf, putting and a city tour. An interesting concept, and a bit different to just walking around the town. Jan won, of course! Here are some of the photos I took during our walk/game.

One of the bridges in Fribourg, the Zähringerbrücke, is jokingly known as the Röstigraben or rösti ditch – the cultural boundary between the German and French-speaking parts of Switzerland. Only the German-speaking Swiss could possibly be uncouth enough to eat grated and fried potatoes – the French speakers are, of course, much more sophisticated ;-) Here’s the Zähringer Bridge, from various angles:

In case you were wondering, the river is the Saane or Saline, depending on which language you prefer. Some more photos of Fribourg:

By the way, not all the holes were as easy as the first photo seems to suggest. Here’s one of the more difficult ones:

FribourgThe photo was taken from next to the blue pole. Note the huge wall in between that and the red one? Needless to say, this was not a hole where you could get a hole in one!

The urban golf course involves a lot of walking, up hills and down stairs. It’s a lot of fun though, and if you get tired or bored you can stop at any time. There’s nobody forcing you to complete the course ;-) However, if you do you will have seen pretty much all there is to see in Fribourg/Freiburg. It was a lot of fun and something a bit different to our usual method of just wandering around aimlessly! And the city itself is well worth a visit (honestly though I’ve yet to find anywhere in Switzerland that isn’t gorgeous!) The Fribourg tourism website has more information on urban golf here (and no, they didn’t sponsor me to write this post!). At the time of writing, the price without a city card is CHF 9 for adults and CHF 5 for children. Golf clubs can be picked up/returned from the tourist information centre or, when it’s closed, the bowling alley round the corner.

*I’m linking this post up to the Monday Escape blog hop with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey*
Packing my Suitcase


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35 before 35: The KVV beer tour

A Karlsruhe S-Bahn

A Karlsruhe S-Bahn

Let’s rewind a few weeks to a time before I moved to Switzerland. I knew that I would have to complete item 35 on my 35 before 35 list before leaving Karlsruhe because it’s not that easy to do a beer tour using the Karlsruhe transport network when you don’t actually live there! Obviously we could have come back for a visit, but it seemed easier to do it while I was still around to plan things out properly. And so, on 11 April 2015, a group of us set out to drink a beer in several brewpubs that could be reached using the KVV transport network. The idea was to buy a 24 our ticket (or in my case use my Bahncard 100 one last time before it ran out) and visit as many places as we could in one day. The final selection of venues ended up being Andreasbräu in Leopoldshafen, Alter Bahnhof in Malsch, Wallhall in Bruchsal, Brauhaus Löwenhof in Bretten and finally good old Vogelbräu in Karlsruhe. We could also have done one more (Kühler Krug, also in Karlsruhe), but we liked the beer at Wallhall so much that we decided to stay for an extra one and also for something to eat. Here are some impressions from the individual places.

Andreasbräu, Leopoldshafen

We left Karlsruhe at just after 12 and took an S1 to Leopoldshafen, so clearly our first stop had to include lunch. I had Schnitzel, because I’m boring ;-) At Andreasbräu, everybody chose to drink a Red Dragon, which was delicious. I’m a little sad that it took my until my last month in Karlsruhe to discover Andreasbräu because I liked it a lot.

Alter Bahnhof, Malsch

To get to our next stop, we travelled all the way through Karlsruhe, changing at the train station onto an S-Bahn towards Rastatt. Here, I originally chose a Märzen to drink, but it tasted sour and I actually thought it might be off. The waitress tried it and said it was supposed to be like that, so I decided it probably just wasn’t my kind of beer and switched to a Helles. I wasn’t charged for the original beer, which was nice, but I wasn’t too keen on the atmosphere at this place – it was a bit “local pub-ish”, if you know what I mean – and I probably wouldn’t go back. I did like the wall decorations though! As the name might suggest (Alter Bahnhof means Old Train Station), the brewpub is inside the old train station building and the walls had been painted with a waiting for a train theme.

Wallhall, Bruchsal

Stop number 3 was in Bruchsal. We had to take the S-Bahn back through Karlsruhe train station, but this time we went straight through without changing. For my first beer I chose a Schwarzbier, which was very tasty with a coffee-ish note. After trying each other’s beers, everybody decided we wanted to stay here for a second drink so we could all drink the one we hadn’t had the first time round. My second beer was Hopfenperle, which was also delicious. It was getting towards tea time by this stage so we decided to eat again. This time, I chose veal with Semmelknödel (bread dumplings). Very tasty! I can highly recommend Wallhall if you’re ever in Bruchsal. It’s also a hotel, although I couldn’t tell you whether their rooms are as good as their food and drink.

Brauhaus Löwenhof, Bretten

Once we were done in Bruchsal, we headed to Bretten. We took the S9, which none of us had ever taken before and which went on an interesting route through small villages that we’d never heard of. We even spied a castle through the window at one stage! Our destination was Brauhaus Löwenhof. The beer there wasn’t my favourite of the day, but it was pretty good. Most of the photos I took there feature people and are therefore not blog suitable, but here are a few:

Vogelbräu, Karlsruhe

Our final stop was at Vogelbräu back in Karlsruhe. There’s not really much I can say about this place. I’ve been here many times and the beer is good. In my opinion, it’s tied with Kühler Krug for best beer brewed within Karlsruhe city. At Vogelbräu, I ate a garlic pannini. Not because I was still hungry, I just love them there. They’re definitely not for the faint-hearted though! When they say garlic, they really mean it! By the way, Vogelbräu has three pubs – in Karlsruhe, Durlach and Ettlingen – and if you visit all three on one day you get a free (small) beer at the third stop. By the time we reached Vogelbräu, we were all running out of steam a bit, so I only have 2 photos for you there:

All in all, it was a fun day out and I enjoyed discovering new places and tasty beers. An excellent item for my 35 before 35 list and a highly recommended day out in Karlsruhe. All you need is a map of the transport network, a 24 hour ticket and plenty of time! I recommend looking up tram times in advance and having a couple of alternatives in case you miss one or just decide to stay a bit longer at a place you like a lot. I planned in roughly an hour at each place with extra time at Andreasbräu so we could eat lunch.

Other places we considered visiting but didn’t for reasons of time and more difficult tram/bus connections were: Brauhaus 4.0 in Knielingen, Lindenbräu in Waldbronn, Brauerei Franz in Rastatt, Hopfenschlingel in Rastatt, Badisches Brauhaus in Karlsruhe and Kühler Krug in Karlsruhe. Five isn’t bad for one day though! We met up at just after 12 noon and left Vogelbräu at midnight, so the tour took pretty much exactly 12 hours.


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Ten things I’ll miss about Karlsruhe

I’m not including people on this list, because I think it goes without saying that I’ll miss my friends! Also, people can move so theoretically it would be possible for the people I like to also come to Basel ;-) But even ignoring the people, I will miss some things about the place that’s been my home for the past eight and a half years!

  1. My “local” Irish pub… and of course the quiz. (My team came 3rd last week, by the way, which was a nice way to say goodbye).
  2. The trams. I know, it seems like an odd thing to miss, but they’re bright yellow and whenever I spied one from a train window I knew I was nearly home.
    S-Bahn
  3. The Schlosspark (castle grounds). I don’t even think I spent any time there last year with the weather in the summer being so bad, but it’s the perfect place to sit when the sun’s out. I hope we’ll find somewhere just as good in Basel.
  4. The red pandas, of course! I’ll miss seeing them hanging out in their trees on my way to and from work. (I will also miss living literally oppostie the zoo! We’re fairly close in Basel but it’s still a ten-minute walk. At the weekend, we took a last trip to Karlsruhe zoo, so look out for those photos on the blog once I can upload again – the ones in this post were all already uploaded for previous posts)

    I promise there's a red panda in that tree...

    I promise there’s a red panda in that tree…

  5. Soul bar, not just because of the very tasty cocktails, but also because the owners are so lovely. They greeted us like old friends every time we came in – even if it had been months since our last visit – and did an excellent job for my 30th birthday party.
  6. Sukie’s Cake Shop. I’ve only actually been there three times, but I will miss knowing I can go to a place where I can eat scones and clotted cream to my heart’s content and won’t get funny looks for asking for milk with my tea. Also, they sell cans of Dandelion & Burdock and Irn Bru!

    A strawberry scone from Sukie's

    A strawberry scone from Sukie’s

  7. Knowing my way around. Okay, this is something that I’m sure will come with time in Basel, but nothing could be quite as easy as Karlsruhe’s layout. All streets either lead to the castle or away from it (or, in the case of cross streets, parallel to it), so if you can’t see the castle turn around and walk the other way until you do! (Only applies for the twon centre, obviously)
  8. Hoepfner Burgfest. Beer, live music and good food. What’s not to love? And even if we do find a beer festival in Basel, the Karlsruhe one will win on price!

    Hoepfner beer at Burgfest 2014

    Hoepfner beer at Burgfest 2014

  9. The excellent connections. It sounds odd, but one of the things I love about Karlsruhe is how easy it is to get away from. By train, you can be in Paris, Munich or Lucerne in three hours, Zurich in two and a half, Frankfurt in just over an hour and Strasbourg or Heidelberg in roughly half an hour. There’s even a direct connection to Marseilles (although it admittedly takes 6 and a half hours) and a few years ago, Jan and I took a night train to Amsterdam, arriving at our final destination (Delft) refreshed and ready for the day.
  10. Our flat. It was the first place Jan and I ever lived together (unless you count the student residence, which I don’t!) and it really is a lovely flat. Of course, after two weeks of listening to the empty rooms echo I’m looking forward to living in a place with furniture again, and our new flat is also lovely, but this place will always hold a special place in my heart.
    Where my books used to live...

    Where my books used to live…

    With all that said, I am looking forward to being in Basel full time and find new places that I love just as much as my favourites in Karlsruhe. And the cheese… I’m definitely looking forward to the cheese!


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Basel zoo and a “hedgehog” for lunch

On Saturday, we were up bright and early to drive to Basel again. Our first of three flat viewings was at 11 am, meaning the latest possible time we could leave Karlsruhe was 9! And that is why we spent Valentine’s Day driving and looking at flats. Good job neither of us actually cares about the day of lurrrve ;-) We did, however, manage to stop for lunch in between the first two flat viewings. We went to a little baker’s/cafe where we each drank a home-made hot chocolate with chilli and I couldn’t resist eating an “Igeli”. Der Igel is German for hedgehog, but the Swiss like to diminutise (is that a word?) everything, and so it becomes Igeli. The English equivalent I suppose would be hedgehogling – in the sense of duckling or gosling (or maybe it would be hedgehoglet? Piglet… hoglet… hedgehoglet? You get the idea, anyway). Before I ate him, I had to snap a picture. Just look how cute he is!

Igeli

Later, we had a slightly longer gap between viewings and the sun had come out (after pouring rain in the morning), so we decided to check out the zoo. Sadly, there are no red pandas there, but they do have meerkats, orangutans and some interesting birds. My camera battery was low, so I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a few:

As for the flats: the first one was most suitable, the second was nice but not in the best area and the third was expensive and also the available date has been moved back, but was very large and central. We took forms for all three of them anyway. And now, we go back to waiting… and in the meantime continue to try to arrange viewing appointments. We’ve managed to get 2 more for Friday afternoon, so I’ll be working overtime from now until Thursday and taking Friday afternoon off work. *Sigh* Flat hunting is exhausting!

 

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