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Old 02-09-2002, 11:55 PM   #1
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Feb 2002: Basel, Zurich, and parts unknown

This will be my third trip out to BSL in the past six months. I always enjoy returning to this city, I’ve grown quite fond of it. This particular trip, however, will also involve a train ride to Zurich for an additional meeting and then a week’s worth of unplanned touristy travel after my business obligations are met. I’ll be joined as well by my mother, who has never visited Europe. I’m looking forward to a very enjoyable trip.

Once again I managed to book my customary Continental flights 10 and 11 for the outbound and return trips. Although I’ve read about the dissolution of the Continental/Air France partnership, it’s certainly not apparent from the flight schedules and number of codeshare flights I see. Just to be safe, though, I made sure that my long segments were on Continental metal.

We arrived at the Austin airport a very comfortable three hours before our first segment. I was secretly hoping that we would have no difficulties hopping on an earlier flight to Houston which would give us a more relaxed layover at the larger, more amenable Houston P-Club instead of the Austin location. This is exactly what occurred, although by taking the earlier flight we ended up losing out on what would have been a likely upgrade to first class. Having mom on my PNR for the flights disqualified me from receiving my usual EUA to first class. The Houston segment was my first coach flight in many, many months. Say what you will about the recent changes to the OnePass program, EUAs are the best thing going in the world of frequent flying.

The flight to Houston was unremarkable, about the only odd thing was leaving out of gate 18 instead of the traditional gate 16. Our main FA was quite a comedian, and the whole plane got a good chuckle when she warned boarding pax to “please place your carryon articles only in the overhead bins which are still open. The overhead bins which are closed are already full and are pretty much spring-loaded at this point.” We had bulkhead seats so we did get to enjoy the coach beverage service which rarely makes it much farther than the middle of the 737 on these AUS->IAH flights before it’s time for landing.

Arriving in Houston, mom got a full tour of both the North and South ends. We trekked down to the nicer, larger bookshop by the southern portion of terminals and then walked back up to the North end and down the long hallway into the International D Terminal.
About halfway down that hall, it really becomes clear that you’re about to go someplace. We stopped by the money changer and got a few hundred dollars worth of Swiss Francs and headed over to the international terminal president’s club. I’d been wavering up to this point on whether we should do the international p-club or the north president’s club and opted for the club closest to our gate (D5). It turned out to be the wrong decision, though. The D terminal club was packed full of people. We were lucky to get seats, so it worked out just fine, but I think we’d have been much better off at the other club. Plus there’s the issue with the weird phones in the D club terminal which kept me from being able to get online and post this report.

The flight to CDG was announced in the club and boarded right on time. We had no wait at the gate and were able to walk directly onto the plane and to our seats. I recognized the Flight 10 crew as the same crew that had attended my last flight to CDG. We took off, right on time, at 6:40p and settled in for a long night of travel. Flying into the sunset at over 500mph, it was dark outside almost immediately, but neither of us found ourselves able to sleep. The film selection was better than usual and I watched Serendipity and then Bandits. I listened to mp3s off my laptop for the third cycle of the video entertainment system, though. The meal was also quite good, with three choices – beef, chicken, or vegetarian. The Chicken was a broiled chicken breast with carrots and peas accompanied with a small salad, roll, and lemon pound cake dessert. Between that and a few bottles of Sam Adams (free drinks on this flight) I was quite satisfied.

I caught a very beautiful sunrise as we were about 100 miles from landfall over Ireland and the pictures seem to have turned out quite well. Look for them in the gallery soon.

We arrived in CDG and my precaution of selecting flights to provide a 1 hour 40 minute layover instead of the more typical 50 minute layover turned out to be entirely unnecessary. Not only did our flight get a direct gate arrival instead of of the weird shuttlebus-on-stilts pax delivery (which easily consumes 25 minutes and puts a 50 minute layover at serious risk of being too little time), but the passenger load was extremely light. Our bus from Hall C to Hall B was virtually empty instead of the throng of people I was expecting. This, plus the nearly two hour delayed departure of our CDG-BSL flight gave us ample time to wander the Paris airport and take pictures. I even managed to nod off a bit as we waited at our departing gate.

The flight to BSL boarded almost two hours late and then we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes or so for some reason that was not actually explained during the English portion of the frequent announcements. By this time, my travel fatigue had caught up with me and I was safely able to spend this entire delay and then the flight itself sound asleep in my seat. The next thing I knew, we were landing at Bale/Mulhouse and our travels were over for the day. We grabbed out luggage and took a taxi to the hotel.

A delicious dinner of Fondue and a short walk around the neighborhood around the hotel were about all I could manage before collapsing into a solid night’s sleep to catch up from the flights.
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Old 02-09-2002, 11:55 PM   #2
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Feb 2002: Basel, Zurich, and parts unknown

This will be my third trip out to BSL in the past six months. I always enjoy returning to this city, I’ve grown quite fond of it. This particular trip, however, will also involve a train ride to Zurich for an additional meeting and then a week’s worth of unplanned touristy travel after my business obligations are met. I’ll be joined as well by my mother, who has never visited Europe. I’m looking forward to a very enjoyable trip.

Once again I managed to book my customary Continental flights 10 and 11 for the outbound and return trips. Although I’ve read about the dissolution of the Continental/Air France partnership, it’s certainly not apparent from the flight schedules and number of codeshare flights I see. Just to be safe, though, I made sure that my long segments were on Continental metal.

We arrived at the Austin airport a very comfortable three hours before our first segment. I was secretly hoping that we would have no difficulties hopping on an earlier flight to Houston which would give us a more relaxed layover at the larger, more amenable Houston P-Club instead of the Austin location. This is exactly what occurred, although by taking the earlier flight we ended up losing out on what would have been a likely upgrade to first class. Having mom on my PNR for the flights disqualified me from receiving my usual EUA to first class. The Houston segment was my first coach flight in many, many months. Say what you will about the recent changes to the OnePass program, EUAs are the best thing going in the world of frequent flying.

The flight to Houston was unremarkable, about the only odd thing was leaving out of gate 18 instead of the traditional gate 16. Our main FA was quite a comedian, and the whole plane got a good chuckle when she warned boarding pax to “please place your carryon articles only in the overhead bins which are still open. The overhead bins which are closed are already full and are pretty much spring-loaded at this point.” We had bulkhead seats so we did get to enjoy the coach beverage service which rarely makes it much farther than the middle of the 737 on these AUS->IAH flights before it’s time for landing.

Arriving in Houston, mom got a full tour of both the North and South ends. We trekked down to the nicer, larger bookshop by the southern portion of terminals and then walked back up to the North end and down the long hallway into the International D Terminal.
About halfway down that hall, it really becomes clear that you’re about to go someplace. We stopped by the money changer and got a few hundred dollars worth of Swiss Francs and headed over to the international terminal president’s club. I’d been wavering up to this point on whether we should do the international p-club or the north president’s club and opted for the club closest to our gate (D5). It turned out to be the wrong decision, though. The D terminal club was packed full of people. We were lucky to get seats, so it worked out just fine, but I think we’d have been much better off at the other club. Plus there’s the issue with the weird phones in the D club terminal which kept me from being able to get online and post this report.

The flight to CDG was announced in the club and boarded right on time. We had no wait at the gate and were able to walk directly onto the plane and to our seats. I recognized the Flight 10 crew as the same crew that had attended my last flight to CDG. We took off, right on time, at 6:40p and settled in for a long night of travel. Flying into the sunset at over 500mph, it was dark outside almost immediately, but neither of us found ourselves able to sleep. The film selection was better than usual and I watched Serendipity and then Bandits. I listened to mp3s off my laptop for the third cycle of the video entertainment system, though. The meal was also quite good, with three choices – beef, chicken, or vegetarian. The Chicken was a broiled chicken breast with carrots and peas accompanied with a small salad, roll, and lemon pound cake dessert. Between that and a few bottles of Sam Adams (free drinks on this flight) I was quite satisfied.

I caught a very beautiful sunrise as we were about 100 miles from landfall over Ireland and the pictures seem to have turned out quite well. Look for them in the gallery soon.

We arrived in CDG and my precaution of selecting flights to provide a 1 hour 40 minute layover instead of the more typical 50 minute layover turned out to be entirely unnecessary. Not only did our flight get a direct gate arrival instead of of the weird shuttlebus-on-stilts pax delivery (which easily consumes 25 minutes and puts a 50 minute layover at serious risk of being too little time), but the passenger load was extremely light. Our bus from Hall C to Hall B was virtually empty instead of the throng of people I was expecting. This, plus the nearly two hour delayed departure of our CDG-BSL flight gave us ample time to wander the Paris airport and take pictures. I even managed to nod off a bit as we waited at our departing gate.

The flight to BSL boarded almost two hours late and then we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes or so for some reason that was not actually explained during the English portion of the frequent announcements. By this time, my travel fatigue had caught up with me and I was safely able to spend this entire delay and then the flight itself sound asleep in my seat. The next thing I knew, we were landing at Bale/Mulhouse and our travels were over for the day. We grabbed out luggage and took a taxi to the hotel.

A delicious dinner of Fondue and a short walk around the neighborhood around the hotel were about all I could manage before collapsing into a solid night’s sleep to catch up from the flights.
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Old 02-10-2002, 12:03 AM   #3
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The MOM Travel report -- supplement to the NUGGET report.

My trip begins one day earlier than Nugget’s as I had the flights from Champaign, IL to Austin, TX prior to the departure to Switzerland. Nugget procured a Continental Rewards ticket for me that had two layovers. He reminded me that both of the airports that I would be waiting in had not yet been photographed for ITYT. I was glad to have the assignment. Detroit and Memphis airports will now be represented in the gallery. On 2/24/02 Detroit will begin receiving flights into their new International terminal. There is a great deal of hype in the old terminal regarding the pending event.

I spent the obligatory time cruising the respective airport bookstores and purchased the outrageously priced cup of Starbucks coffee. The caffeine and the anticipation of seeing David soon kept me alert and excited. Except for being asked to remove my shoes at two check points, the security and airport rituals were all much the same as they have been since 9-11. The focus on my foot wear revealed that I wasn’t a terrorist, but that perhaps I was guilty of impersonating a tall person as I “shrink” considerably when my heels are removed.

I was met at the Austin airport by a group of “handsome” UD reps and then whisked away to a great Mexican dinner at Chuy’s.

I still wasn’t totally focused on the thought that I would be leaving for Europe the next day and a few Texas Shiners dulled my focus even more!

I had a short day to relish the Austin sunshine and temperatures before I was off to the airport again – this time with David. During the drive I compulsively checked the whereabouts of my passport – worried that I would pull some kind of “Lucy Ricardo” stunt and leave it behind.

David introduced me to the luxury of traveling with President’s Club perks. I had never peeked into the hidden world of first class travel. (I am one of those weary passengers slumped in a crowded vinyl seat trying to read or balance a snack on my lap without moving my elbows in such a way to annoy my neighbor.) How wonderful it was to await our flight announcement surrounded by mahogany paneling, ensconced in plush chairs and sipping complimentary wine. A girl sure could get spoiled easily that way!

We enjoyed a quick and on-schedule connection to Houston. The whole adventure began to seem more real as we split from the mass of travelers and headed into the International terminal at the Houston airport. The 777 we boarded was the largest plane I have flown on. I was impressed – and I think that is just how Continental wished for me to feel. The crew members were very efficient and friendly. Much of what they did was to maximize passenger comfort and increase communication clarity for foreign travelers. I realized that at that moment I was one of those understanding all the spoken instructions, but very soon I would have that confused look of concentration when all directions were delivered in French!

The flight was filled with unexpected service details such as the warmed lemon-scented towels that were presented to each passenger before the meals are served. We ate two meals on the 9-hour flight. A dinner and a breakfast – both quite adequate.

We were offered a selection of 6 movies. Each passenger had his own headphones and viewing screen. If you chose not to pass the time with cinema entertainment, you could put on your eye covers, plump up your small pillow and pull the light blanket right up to your chin. Since the flight was not very full, most of us could stretch across two or three seats and have a camping kind of sleeping arrangement.

Neither David or I slept very well. I think that I was just too excited. We were both watching out of our window when the sun came up. David got a photograph of a very colorful sunrise. It was slightly disconcerting that what felt like morning – daylight had broken and the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the cabin – was in actuality just about 2:30AM for us. We were crossing over Greenland and the landing in Paris was just a couple of hours ahead.

We stumbled off our “overnight” accommodations and joined the Parisians just in time for lunch. We arrived to what was described as a cold day – our definition was a bit different. It was really in the mid-50 degrees and there was a slight drizzle. We still carried our coats, but we noticed that most of the locals were bundled up against the chill.

In the terminal restaurant I realized that the American prejudice against smoking does not extend to this part of Europe. We were surrounded by the clouds of smoking patrons. I was a wide-eyed tourist observing everything around me. Eavesdroping is delightful -- the rapid French chattering sounded musical. Regular coffee is served in tiny expresso sized cups. David and I had to laugh at the thought of one of these diners ordering a small coffee at Starbucks and receiving what would amount a pitcher of French coffee

The only snag in our traveling occurred now while waiting for our connecting flight to Basel. (I must comment here that I would probably have had MANY snags if I hadn’t been with David. He had mastered much of the sign reading and systems from his earlier trips. I lagged along beside him benefiting from his previous travels. His instincts about who to ask directions of and where to go were invaluable.) Our flight was held up almost two hours and the waiting area was somewhat disorganized. Also, I think, this is where our traveling fatigue and the itinerary intersected.

The landing in Basel with a trace of fresh air and sunshine revived us. The town is just charming. (More about that later.) The cab ride from the airport to the Swissotel is about 20 minutes – and, you see such an interesting blend of modern and historic in the architecture. We checked into our lovely accommodations (Pictures will be posted in David’s gallery.) and then went immediately for a walk. Arched stone walk bridges cross the Rhine river and it seems as if the entire town was out for a Saturday evening stroll with us. The shops were still open and it was a puzzle to match the window displays with the German or French signs and discern what kind of shopping you could do. BIG SALE is fairly easy to figure out in any language! While David is at work, I will be walking back to these fascinating stores. In most of the buildings, there was commercial activity on the ground floor with the upper floors (usually 3-4) being picturesque apartments with shuttered windows. The window boxes are mostly empty right now, but I could imagine flowers spilling out of them in a month or so.

We found a quaint fondue restaurant and had – what else? -- Swiss cheese with crunchy chucks of bread for dinner.
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Old 02-10-2002, 12:03 AM   #4
Mom
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Join Date: Oct 2001
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The MOM Travel report -- supplement to the NUGGET report.

My trip begins one day earlier than Nugget’s as I had the flights from Champaign, IL to Austin, TX prior to the departure to Switzerland. Nugget procured a Continental Rewards ticket for me that had two layovers. He reminded me that both of the airports that I would be waiting in had not yet been photographed for ITYT. I was glad to have the assignment. Detroit and Memphis airports will now be represented in the gallery. On 2/24/02 Detroit will begin receiving flights into their new International terminal. There is a great deal of hype in the old terminal regarding the pending event.

I spent the obligatory time cruising the respective airport bookstores and purchased the outrageously priced cup of Starbucks coffee. The caffeine and the anticipation of seeing David soon kept me alert and excited. Except for being asked to remove my shoes at two check points, the security and airport rituals were all much the same as they have been since 9-11. The focus on my foot wear revealed that I wasn’t a terrorist, but that perhaps I was guilty of impersonating a tall person as I “shrink” considerably when my heels are removed.

I was met at the Austin airport by a group of “handsome” UD reps and then whisked away to a great Mexican dinner at Chuy’s.

I still wasn’t totally focused on the thought that I would be leaving for Europe the next day and a few Texas Shiners dulled my focus even more!

I had a short day to relish the Austin sunshine and temperatures before I was off to the airport again – this time with David. During the drive I compulsively checked the whereabouts of my passport – worried that I would pull some kind of “Lucy Ricardo” stunt and leave it behind.

David introduced me to the luxury of traveling with President’s Club perks. I had never peeked into the hidden world of first class travel. (I am one of those weary passengers slumped in a crowded vinyl seat trying to read or balance a snack on my lap without moving my elbows in such a way to annoy my neighbor.) How wonderful it was to await our flight announcement surrounded by mahogany paneling, ensconced in plush chairs and sipping complimentary wine. A girl sure could get spoiled easily that way!

We enjoyed a quick and on-schedule connection to Houston. The whole adventure began to seem more real as we split from the mass of travelers and headed into the International terminal at the Houston airport. The 777 we boarded was the largest plane I have flown on. I was impressed – and I think that is just how Continental wished for me to feel. The crew members were very efficient and friendly. Much of what they did was to maximize passenger comfort and increase communication clarity for foreign travelers. I realized that at that moment I was one of those understanding all the spoken instructions, but very soon I would have that confused look of concentration when all directions were delivered in French!

The flight was filled with unexpected service details such as the warmed lemon-scented towels that were presented to each passenger before the meals are served. We ate two meals on the 9-hour flight. A dinner and a breakfast – both quite adequate.

We were offered a selection of 6 movies. Each passenger had his own headphones and viewing screen. If you chose not to pass the time with cinema entertainment, you could put on your eye covers, plump up your small pillow and pull the light blanket right up to your chin. Since the flight was not very full, most of us could stretch across two or three seats and have a camping kind of sleeping arrangement.

Neither David or I slept very well. I think that I was just too excited. We were both watching out of our window when the sun came up. David got a photograph of a very colorful sunrise. It was slightly disconcerting that what felt like morning – daylight had broken and the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the cabin – was in actuality just about 2:30AM for us. We were crossing over Greenland and the landing in Paris was just a couple of hours ahead.

We stumbled off our “overnight” accommodations and joined the Parisians just in time for lunch. We arrived to what was described as a cold day – our definition was a bit different. It was really in the mid-50 degrees and there was a slight drizzle. We still carried our coats, but we noticed that most of the locals were bundled up against the chill.

In the terminal restaurant I realized that the American prejudice against smoking does not extend to this part of Europe. We were surrounded by the clouds of smoking patrons. I was a wide-eyed tourist observing everything around me. Eavesdroping is delightful -- the rapid French chattering sounded musical. Regular coffee is served in tiny expresso sized cups. David and I had to laugh at the thought of one of these diners ordering a small coffee at Starbucks and receiving what would amount a pitcher of French coffee

The only snag in our traveling occurred now while waiting for our connecting flight to Basel. (I must comment here that I would probably have had MANY snags if I hadn’t been with David. He had mastered much of the sign reading and systems from his earlier trips. I lagged along beside him benefiting from his previous travels. His instincts about who to ask directions of and where to go were invaluable.) Our flight was held up almost two hours and the waiting area was somewhat disorganized. Also, I think, this is where our traveling fatigue and the itinerary intersected.

The landing in Basel with a trace of fresh air and sunshine revived us. The town is just charming. (More about that later.) The cab ride from the airport to the Swissotel is about 20 minutes – and, you see such an interesting blend of modern and historic in the architecture. We checked into our lovely accommodations (Pictures will be posted in David’s gallery.) and then went immediately for a walk. Arched stone walk bridges cross the Rhine river and it seems as if the entire town was out for a Saturday evening stroll with us. The shops were still open and it was a puzzle to match the window displays with the German or French signs and discern what kind of shopping you could do. BIG SALE is fairly easy to figure out in any language! While David is at work, I will be walking back to these fascinating stores. In most of the buildings, there was commercial activity on the ground floor with the upper floors (usually 3-4) being picturesque apartments with shuttered windows. The window boxes are mostly empty right now, but I could imagine flowers spilling out of them in a month or so.

We found a quaint fondue restaurant and had – what else? -- Swiss cheese with crunchy chucks of bread for dinner.
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Old 02-10-2002, 12:29 AM   #5
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As usual, pics from the trip will be posted to both an ITYT trip gallery as well as a personal gallery of mine. So far, I've just thrown up the first four of the sunrise over ireland.

http://www.slacker.com/photos/europe2002feb
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Old 02-10-2002, 12:29 AM   #6
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As usual, pics from the trip will be posted to both an ITYT trip gallery as well as a personal gallery of mine. So far, I've just thrown up the first four of the sunrise over ireland.

http://www.slacker.com/photos/europe2002feb
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Old 02-10-2002, 01:38 AM   #7
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The first morning



I had a sound night of sleep in a real bed. Restored. The room is quite nice with a view of old Swiss buildings on a main street. I hadn’t been asleep very long when I was awakened by the sounds of marching music. I roused myself to the window and peeked at a middle-of-my-night “parade” of a uniformed band. There didn’t seem to be any special event – just marching and music and multi-colored street lights. I had to hold my breath with the realization that I was looking down on a European street.

Swiss accommodations in this hotel have just enough differences to make me smile with awareness. Labels and signs are sprinkled with just enough English to make me competent but slow on the uptake. Nothing is rote – using the hair dryer, for instance, requires some thought. Amenities include, but are not limited to, a heated towel bar and an espresso machine. (Once again, operation requires some bi-lingual deductions.) I am enchanted by everything. In the basket of products provided for my grooming, I do not have hand lotion but instead I have “caring for body emulsion”.

The bed has feather pillows and three layers of down comforters. I burrowed into luxury!

David and I are going to try the breakfast provided by the hotel in just a few moments. In America we label the free breakfast in a hotel lobby “continental” – I assume I will find out just what that means.
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Old 02-10-2002, 01:38 AM   #8
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The first morning



I had a sound night of sleep in a real bed. Restored. The room is quite nice with a view of old Swiss buildings on a main street. I hadn’t been asleep very long when I was awakened by the sounds of marching music. I roused myself to the window and peeked at a middle-of-my-night “parade” of a uniformed band. There didn’t seem to be any special event – just marching and music and multi-colored street lights. I had to hold my breath with the realization that I was looking down on a European street.

Swiss accommodations in this hotel have just enough differences to make me smile with awareness. Labels and signs are sprinkled with just enough English to make me competent but slow on the uptake. Nothing is rote – using the hair dryer, for instance, requires some thought. Amenities include, but are not limited to, a heated towel bar and an espresso machine. (Once again, operation requires some bi-lingual deductions.) I am enchanted by everything. In the basket of products provided for my grooming, I do not have hand lotion but instead I have “caring for body emulsion”.

The bed has feather pillows and three layers of down comforters. I burrowed into luxury!

David and I are going to try the breakfast provided by the hotel in just a few moments. In America we label the free breakfast in a hotel lobby “continental” – I assume I will find out just what that means.
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Old 02-10-2002, 08:08 PM   #9
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After just one day….The delight continues

We toured a museum this morning. This is a sleepy town on Sunday morning and we walked and waited for the opening hours. The museum was originally an enormous and elaborate church. Our footsteps echoed on stone floors and rock steps as we viewed intricately carved castle furniture and coins forged centuries ago. The reality of the antiquity here can’t be adequately expressed. Suffice to say, that the date 1776 is not impressive to these folks!

Because this is not a tourist town you feel more like a guest than a vacationer. There are no signs of marketing to capture my dollar. I am seeing where the Swiss eat and shop and relax. They cross the Rhine River daily – just to conduct their normal routine. Most of the side streets are narrow and cobblestone. (Cars are all small and cute and there aren’t many of them.) The streets wind uphill through a mixture of commercial establishments and residential arrangements. I think I have only seen one single-family dwelling. Many of the buildings have their date of construction carved on a stone above the door. The doors look as if they are originals – massive wooden planks with an outsized door knob located dead in the center.

David and I were enjoying the humor of a restaurant called Café Barf. (He got a photo for the gallery!) Tucked on a corner of one of the curving streets, it did not look like an especially prosperous pizzeria. But, we had to be impressed. The date over the door was 1279. That is almost unbelievable. I wanted to shout something like “false advertising” and reveal my American cynicism.

You can turn any corner and discover a fountain or a sheltered tombstone. The tombstones rise tall (and sometimes crooked) from the ground. Whatever information would have been carved on the unadorned rock faces is long worn away. They remain in a silent testimony to how long a civilized culture has existed here. I am wide-eyed with admiration and interest.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with more discoveries and more hunks of dense, crusty bread.
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Old 02-10-2002, 08:08 PM   #10
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After just one day….The delight continues

We toured a museum this morning. This is a sleepy town on Sunday morning and we walked and waited for the opening hours. The museum was originally an enormous and elaborate church. Our footsteps echoed on stone floors and rock steps as we viewed intricately carved castle furniture and coins forged centuries ago. The reality of the antiquity here can’t be adequately expressed. Suffice to say, that the date 1776 is not impressive to these folks!

Because this is not a tourist town you feel more like a guest than a vacationer. There are no signs of marketing to capture my dollar. I am seeing where the Swiss eat and shop and relax. They cross the Rhine River daily – just to conduct their normal routine. Most of the side streets are narrow and cobblestone. (Cars are all small and cute and there aren’t many of them.) The streets wind uphill through a mixture of commercial establishments and residential arrangements. I think I have only seen one single-family dwelling. Many of the buildings have their date of construction carved on a stone above the door. The doors look as if they are originals – massive wooden planks with an outsized door knob located dead in the center.

David and I were enjoying the humor of a restaurant called Café Barf. (He got a photo for the gallery!) Tucked on a corner of one of the curving streets, it did not look like an especially prosperous pizzeria. But, we had to be impressed. The date over the door was 1279. That is almost unbelievable. I wanted to shout something like “false advertising” and reveal my American cynicism.

You can turn any corner and discover a fountain or a sheltered tombstone. The tombstones rise tall (and sometimes crooked) from the ground. Whatever information would have been carved on the unadorned rock faces is long worn away. They remain in a silent testimony to how long a civilized culture has existed here. I am wide-eyed with admiration and interest.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with more discoveries and more hunks of dense, crusty bread.
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Old 02-11-2002, 04:45 AM   #11
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Our plans begin to solidify

It looks like Saturday is the best day for my Zurich meetings, so I've booked our rooms in Zurich for the 15th through the 18th. Still not sure how we'll get there, I suppose we'll take the train. I've never been to Zurich, so this should be a very fun adventure for both of us.
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Old 02-11-2002, 04:45 AM   #12
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Our plans begin to solidify

It looks like Saturday is the best day for my Zurich meetings, so I've booked our rooms in Zurich for the 15th through the 18th. Still not sure how we'll get there, I suppose we'll take the train. I've never been to Zurich, so this should be a very fun adventure for both of us.
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Old 02-15-2002, 04:10 AM   #13
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Today we will be leaving Basel and I regret that. I have become familiar with the crooked cobblestone streets. David was off to work early each morning and I was “on my own” to learn the city. I had determined that I would approach the language barrier with out fear. David had coached me on some basics of directions and plaza locations. I had a cute little map that was provided by the Swissotel. Big clue – all nouns are capitalized in German! I sighted in on some cathedral steeples. When I knew where I was in reference to their gothic heights, I wasn’t “lost”. The Rhine is another stable reference – down hill is headed to one of the two walk bridges. The people are wonderful. I adapted a smiling, shrugging haplessness and they were so willing to assist me. All my transactions were conducted with enthusiasm and kindness. I met a Basel resident – a woman in her seventies, I would guess. She had a whippet dog named Leika. Her dog was a humorous duplicate of my greyhound at home in IL. Her pet was 13 pounds and my Sam is 78. “Honey, I Shrunk the Greyhound”. (There will be some pictures in the gallery.) She spoke not a word of English and, needless to say, my three word German vocabulary would not get me too far into a conversation. We managed to connect and share pet information. I learned that she was a widow who had lived in Basel for 40-some years. (Lots of gestures to communicate this information!) Amazingly enough, we found each other again the next day! She must walk with Leika every morning and when we met for the second time we were probably 2 miles from our initial encounter corner. I felt as if I had found an old friend!

The time here has been so memorable. I can use words like charming and quaint but they don’t not capture the “flavor” of this area. To really know, you just have to be here. We leave for Zurich this afternoon. We will be taking a train ride directly East across Switzerland.
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Old 02-15-2002, 04:10 AM   #14
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: CMI
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Today we will be leaving Basel and I regret that. I have become familiar with the crooked cobblestone streets. David was off to work early each morning and I was “on my own” to learn the city. I had determined that I would approach the language barrier with out fear. David had coached me on some basics of directions and plaza locations. I had a cute little map that was provided by the Swissotel. Big clue – all nouns are capitalized in German! I sighted in on some cathedral steeples. When I knew where I was in reference to their gothic heights, I wasn’t “lost”. The Rhine is another stable reference – down hill is headed to one of the two walk bridges. The people are wonderful. I adapted a smiling, shrugging haplessness and they were so willing to assist me. All my transactions were conducted with enthusiasm and kindness. I met a Basel resident – a woman in her seventies, I would guess. She had a whippet dog named Leika. Her dog was a humorous duplicate of my greyhound at home in IL. Her pet was 13 pounds and my Sam is 78. “Honey, I Shrunk the Greyhound”. (There will be some pictures in the gallery.) She spoke not a word of English and, needless to say, my three word German vocabulary would not get me too far into a conversation. We managed to connect and share pet information. I learned that she was a widow who had lived in Basel for 40-some years. (Lots of gestures to communicate this information!) Amazingly enough, we found each other again the next day! She must walk with Leika every morning and when we met for the second time we were probably 2 miles from our initial encounter corner. I felt as if I had found an old friend!

The time here has been so memorable. I can use words like charming and quaint but they don’t not capture the “flavor” of this area. To really know, you just have to be here. We leave for Zurich this afternoon. We will be taking a train ride directly East across Switzerland.
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Old 02-20-2002, 06:29 PM   #15
Mom
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: CMI
Posts: 10
The Trip Report Continues: Trains and Cities.

I had been so romanced by the beauty of Basel that I almost forgot that a city needs some kind of support system. As we rode the train toward Zurich, I saw all the industry that Basel requires but "hides" on the outskirts. We passed lumber yards and rock quarries and and any number of necessary service companies -- all looking very industrial and lacking the charm of the inner city. The view from the train car window is mostly of business and factories. It would seem that they are all in competiton to win the award for the location nearest to the tracks. As the train speeds along, you do get to view a bit of rural landscape sprinkled with a small village here and there. But, this is where I saw the reality of a country at work. Basel to Zurich is an all-too-quick 45 minute ride.

The Zurich train station is an enormous stone building with stained glass panels in the ceiling. It looks -- imagine this -- very European! We joined a fast-moving and determined crowd. Other passengers seemed to understand the constant announcements on the PA system a bit better than we did. We managed to interpret some critical signs (David is really good at this foreign reading stuff!) and figure our way to an appropriate exit. There is a tourist assistance area with maps and semi-English speaking employees for the totally lost.

We decided to take the trolley to the Swissotel and enjoy the stops of downtown Zurich on the way. Just as in Basel, the streets were busy with shoppers. There are some really high-end stores with extravagant displays (and extravagant price tags!) for the serious consumer. The store fronts read like the index of Best-Stores-In-The-World catalogue. Zurich provides shopping for the fashion serious! I did manage to discover some antique book stores and a cluttered second hand shop, but they were tucked away on side streets.

The Swissotel in Zurich is lovely. It might be one of the tallest buildings in Zurich. From a corner room on the 28th floor, there was a stunning view. The amenities are not as luxurous as those at the Swissotel in Basel and the standard room was much smaller. We asked for a dinner recommendation from a young man at the front desk and he directed us back into the downtown area. Same trolley ride, but still so much to see. (You will have to get the name of the restaurant from the photo that David took.) It was old and well-known for hearty German fare. Interior decorations were of German military history -- from knights to WWII guns. The menu was a delight and we finally (after much debate) chose sausages and potatoes and sauerkraut and huge crusty rolls that required arm-wrestling to pull them apart.

We have many pictures of our two days of walking and sight seeing in the city. The churches are magnificant. The percentage of newer buildings to old is much higher than in Basel. Streets are steep! Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland -- you can tell this because there are traffic lights, pedestrians cross at the corners rather than having the rule of the streets and you actually hear car horns! Another sign of western civilization was a Starbucks. Our eyes lit up at the prospect of a large, hot cup of coffee.


BACK IN BASEL -- FEELS LIKE HOME.

We arrived back in Basel around noon on Monday. We had thought to take a special 2:00AM train that would get us to the city in time for the 4:00AM festival. I am not sure why we didn't, probably the AM designation. We knew that at 4:00 in the morning all the lights in Basel would be extinguished. After a moment of TOTAL darkness, special lanterns are lit and there is a procession over the Rhine bridge and a special ceremony that has origins from centries ago begins. When we arrived almost eight hours later the festivities were still in full swing. This is a festival that begins in small ways several weeks earlier -- the town has traces of decorations beginning in early February. This big day of celebration was Basler Fasnacht. The townspeople (plus about 50,000 visiters) were in high-spirits. There is a "parade" that covers most of the major streets -- all at the same time. In some areas, the marching is double sided with the bands and floats meeting and passing each other. This is bigger and more elaborate than what we call a parade in America. Costuming is ornate and has great symbolism. Much of that, of course, was lost on us. But, we could enjoy the color and spirit. We were told that you need to have quite a heritage and influence to be in the parade itself. It is deemed an honor. Part of the festival is designed to scare away the Winter. Some of the music is played off key to accomplish that fright. Part of the festival is political and involves the mocking of a long-ago King. Oranges and a plant that looks a lot like goldenrod are tossed from the floats and collected by the crowd. Confetti and streamers thickly cover the streets and sidewalks. Our shoes got tangled in the streamers as we walked. Hopefully, the pictures will give you an idea of the stamina of this celebration.

The lobby of our hotel had been arranged as a staging and resting area for performers in the parade. We got a close look at astonishingly clever and colorful costumes. Excitement was contagious!

We opted to eat early in the hotel restaurant and were fortunate enough to get a table by the window. (Note: Wait staff is not tipped in Switzerland. Swiss consider that to be "rude". American businessmen often do include a tip when they pay for their meals. David has stayed a total of weeks at this same hotel and has added a tip when paying the check. That might just account for the fact that he is greeted by name and we got a table by the window on a extremely busy day -- just guessing!) Anyway, we enjoyed another delicious dinner while we watched more of the marching and listened to the music.

There were still a few of the bands roaming the streets 24 hours later. Dedicated. So were the street cleaners. By daylight, much of the colorful confetti had been swept away. And, the trolley was once again in business on the tracks in front of the hotel.


FLYING HOME.

David had re-scheduled our flights for an earlier return than we had originally planned. Business changes for him. He will be returning to Basel in just a few weeks. I am sad to leave. This has been such a memorable experience.

We, once again, began the strategy of luggage and security check points and commuter flights. At the Paris airport we had 45 minutes to take 3 shuttles and find our way to the correct gate. We felt a bit tense until we knew that we have made it. David discovered that he has been bumped into first class for this trans-Atlantic flight of 10 hours. It means that we won't be sitting together -- but I think he deserves every minute of this upgrade! He will probably detail his first-class experience in his report. When we compared travel notes, there were several pampering differences!

I had the book When Character was King about Ronald Reagan to keep me occupied. And, I did manage to sleep some on the return trip. None of the movie selections seemed interesting to me. Continental does everything it can to distract you from the constraint of air travel. I felt quite spoiled by their attention to my comfort. The two meals we were served were pale in comparison to the Swiss meals I had been enjoying. Probably not Continental Airlines fault.

You can monitor the path and progress of the flight on your personal TV screen. I watched our red line leave France and stretch in a curve across the ocean. I changed my watch with the time zones -- eventually gaining seven hours. I reflected on many of my experiences -- I was sure I could still hear yesterday's drum corps in my head!

This was coming home. I will have a few days in Austin with David before the flights to Illinois.
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Old 02-20-2002, 06:29 PM   #16
Mom
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: CMI
Posts: 10
The Trip Report Continues: Trains and Cities.

I had been so romanced by the beauty of Basel that I almost forgot that a city needs some kind of support system. As we rode the train toward Zurich, I saw all the industry that Basel requires but "hides" on the outskirts. We passed lumber yards and rock quarries and and any number of necessary service companies -- all looking very industrial and lacking the charm of the inner city. The view from the train car window is mostly of business and factories. It would seem that they are all in competiton to win the award for the location nearest to the tracks. As the train speeds along, you do get to view a bit of rural landscape sprinkled with a small village here and there. But, this is where I saw the reality of a country at work. Basel to Zurich is an all-too-quick 45 minute ride.

The Zurich train station is an enormous stone building with stained glass panels in the ceiling. It looks -- imagine this -- very European! We joined a fast-moving and determined crowd. Other passengers seemed to understand the constant announcements on the PA system a bit better than we did. We managed to interpret some critical signs (David is really good at this foreign reading stuff!) and figure our way to an appropriate exit. There is a tourist assistance area with maps and semi-English speaking employees for the totally lost.

We decided to take the trolley to the Swissotel and enjoy the stops of downtown Zurich on the way. Just as in Basel, the streets were busy with shoppers. There are some really high-end stores with extravagant displays (and extravagant price tags!) for the serious consumer. The store fronts read like the index of Best-Stores-In-The-World catalogue. Zurich provides shopping for the fashion serious! I did manage to discover some antique book stores and a cluttered second hand shop, but they were tucked away on side streets.

The Swissotel in Zurich is lovely. It might be one of the tallest buildings in Zurich. From a corner room on the 28th floor, there was a stunning view. The amenities are not as luxurous as those at the Swissotel in Basel and the standard room was much smaller. We asked for a dinner recommendation from a young man at the front desk and he directed us back into the downtown area. Same trolley ride, but still so much to see. (You will have to get the name of the restaurant from the photo that David took.) It was old and well-known for hearty German fare. Interior decorations were of German military history -- from knights to WWII guns. The menu was a delight and we finally (after much debate) chose sausages and potatoes and sauerkraut and huge crusty rolls that required arm-wrestling to pull them apart.

We have many pictures of our two days of walking and sight seeing in the city. The churches are magnificant. The percentage of newer buildings to old is much higher than in Basel. Streets are steep! Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland -- you can tell this because there are traffic lights, pedestrians cross at the corners rather than having the rule of the streets and you actually hear car horns! Another sign of western civilization was a Starbucks. Our eyes lit up at the prospect of a large, hot cup of coffee.


BACK IN BASEL -- FEELS LIKE HOME.

We arrived back in Basel around noon on Monday. We had thought to take a special 2:00AM train that would get us to the city in time for the 4:00AM festival. I am not sure why we didn't, probably the AM designation. We knew that at 4:00 in the morning all the lights in Basel would be extinguished. After a moment of TOTAL darkness, special lanterns are lit and there is a procession over the Rhine bridge and a special ceremony that has origins from centries ago begins. When we arrived almost eight hours later the festivities were still in full swing. This is a festival that begins in small ways several weeks earlier -- the town has traces of decorations beginning in early February. This big day of celebration was Basler Fasnacht. The townspeople (plus about 50,000 visiters) were in high-spirits. There is a "parade" that covers most of the major streets -- all at the same time. In some areas, the marching is double sided with the bands and floats meeting and passing each other. This is bigger and more elaborate than what we call a parade in America. Costuming is ornate and has great symbolism. Much of that, of course, was lost on us. But, we could enjoy the color and spirit. We were told that you need to have quite a heritage and influence to be in the parade itself. It is deemed an honor. Part of the festival is designed to scare away the Winter. Some of the music is played off key to accomplish that fright. Part of the festival is political and involves the mocking of a long-ago King. Oranges and a plant that looks a lot like goldenrod are tossed from the floats and collected by the crowd. Confetti and streamers thickly cover the streets and sidewalks. Our shoes got tangled in the streamers as we walked. Hopefully, the pictures will give you an idea of the stamina of this celebration.

The lobby of our hotel had been arranged as a staging and resting area for performers in the parade. We got a close look at astonishingly clever and colorful costumes. Excitement was contagious!

We opted to eat early in the hotel restaurant and were fortunate enough to get a table by the window. (Note: Wait staff is not tipped in Switzerland. Swiss consider that to be "rude". American businessmen often do include a tip when they pay for their meals. David has stayed a total of weeks at this same hotel and has added a tip when paying the check. That might just account for the fact that he is greeted by name and we got a table by the window on a extremely busy day -- just guessing!) Anyway, we enjoyed another delicious dinner while we watched more of the marching and listened to the music.

There were still a few of the bands roaming the streets 24 hours later. Dedicated. So were the street cleaners. By daylight, much of the colorful confetti had been swept away. And, the trolley was once again in business on the tracks in front of the hotel.


FLYING HOME.

David had re-scheduled our flights for an earlier return than we had originally planned. Business changes for him. He will be returning to Basel in just a few weeks. I am sad to leave. This has been such a memorable experience.

We, once again, began the strategy of luggage and security check points and commuter flights. At the Paris airport we had 45 minutes to take 3 shuttles and find our way to the correct gate. We felt a bit tense until we knew that we have made it. David discovered that he has been bumped into first class for this trans-Atlantic flight of 10 hours. It means that we won't be sitting together -- but I think he deserves every minute of this upgrade! He will probably detail his first-class experience in his report. When we compared travel notes, there were several pampering differences!

I had the book When Character was King about Ronald Reagan to keep me occupied. And, I did manage to sleep some on the return trip. None of the movie selections seemed interesting to me. Continental does everything it can to distract you from the constraint of air travel. I felt quite spoiled by their attention to my comfort. The two meals we were served were pale in comparison to the Swiss meals I had been enjoying. Probably not Continental Airlines fault.

You can monitor the path and progress of the flight on your personal TV screen. I watched our red line leave France and stretch in a curve across the ocean. I changed my watch with the time zones -- eventually gaining seven hours. I reflected on many of my experiences -- I was sure I could still hear yesterday's drum corps in my head!

This was coming home. I will have a few days in Austin with David before the flights to Illinois.
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