Have you ever, in this day and age, gone somewhere new without a phone? Without a device telling you maps, locations and, at its most simple, the time? Well my fellow millennials (and other technologically inclined persons), I now have weathered proof that it is indeed possible to survive without such a thing. My roommate Clara Agnes and I ventured into Basel, Switzerland as a driven duo who both lost their phones roughly a month ago. And, you know what? We were perfectly fine! We used maps, actual clocks, the kindness of strangers…all those old-fangled things.
To be honest we were, of course, nervous to be embarking on a journey without Trina. Not only is she a delightful companion to have in any group, she also happens to be the only one left with a phone. Hence, we rely on her fairly heavily for finding directions, times, and other things that can be looked up. To combat our slight apprehension we brought our laptops along. These were very useful for planning out our day at the start and winding down at night, but other than that our tech free travels were nothing short of refreshing!
Basel is a cute little town tucked into a corner of Switzerland that protrudes into both France and Germany. Consequently, upon finding cheap accommodation in Germany, that’s where we commuted from every day. It was only a half hour bus ride and we got a hoot out of the nonchalant border crossing we kept taking part in. Our time in Basel was spent walking around the picturesque town and exploring. There is a beautiful cathedral right on the river Rhine which has dark brown stone and impressive towers. It happens to be right next to a ferry that crosses the river on a pulley system; we took a quick ride on that. After bathing in the sun on the bleacher-like other side of the river we went back through town into the market. We bought cheese and olives and I got to use my Italian. Once again I was asked if I was Italian. I am significantly enjoying this flattery, to say the least. On the topic of languages, it was really odd to be in Germany and German-Switzerland because it was the first time I felt unable to use my various tongues. At least in Belgium the Dutch always comes with French right next to it. That was not always the case this weekend and I actually felt very humbled having to explain myself in English. I now know what my friend group feels and I don’t think I like it. It’s okay though, just more motivation to learn more languages! Anyway, we finished the day off with a delicious swiss cheese fondue. We couldn’t finish all of the dipping items (bread, cheese) so we put them in our pockets on the sly. College students…what can ya do?
The next day we went to Zürich which is a very beautiful, hip and youthful city. We didn’t spend too much time in the actual center and went instead to Uetliberg, the mountain that looms above Zürich. Pictures will follow (they are on a camera instead of a phone so there is more work transferring such things) but they really can’t do it justice. After a picnic by the train station, we started climbing. Every time we reached a level we thought it was the most gorgeous, then we’d move up again and be proved wrong. What you see from up there is a full vista of Zürich and its lake…oh yea and the Alps. The Alps were breathTAKING, not only because we were at a higher altitude. It was around 40-50 degrees out where we were but the far-off mountains were as snow-capped and majestic as can be expected. The highest vantage point to see them from was a tower we got to climb (score) that had 178 steps. Quite a typical climbing length if I say so myself. You probably have to go yourself to see what we saw. Between the crisp fresh air, the snow, and the champagne we brought, life was in fact very good.
Basel showed us that winter in northern Europe isn’t always dreary and wet and we are grateful for that. In fact, I think we brought the bon temps back with us because things are looking up here in Brussels, too. I’ve seen the sun this whole week. Shock. Pleasant shock. I missed the sun! Hopefully I’ll see some of it in Ireland this weekend although it is right before St Patrick’s Day. The only thing I might be seeing is green.