We met the 0900 train from Runcorn to Lime Street station. It trundled along the tracks delivering us for a wonderful day wandering about this harbour town. On the train we saw a sight that took us by surprise. Travelling with us was a young girl who seemed to have forgotten to remove her curlers for the morning commute.
I love the incalculable happenstance of travelling. Things that happen just because - well - they ought to.
We knew our first destination in UK would be Liverpool. This was not a family historical destination… this was for the Beatles… enough said. I did not want to drive into Liverpool on our first night as an international driver. We decided to find a hotel on the outskirts of Liverpool and train in for our visits. Bookings.com suggested the Campanile in Runcorn. It was very inexpensive - read cheap. So we booked.
Some days later we made a fascinating family discovery. Brand new knowledge which had not surfaced ever before. The birth place of our grandfather was Runcorn. No Way!
I am flying to UK with Emirates in 2015 after using them to get to Geneva last year. I actually believe that Emirates in and out of Adelaide has been wonderful for our connectivity to Europe and the world. I know of people who have used Emirates from Adelaide to New York, Boston, Rio and Nairobi as well as the logical European trips to Paris, Stockholm, Zurich, Madrid or London.
After three weeks in Switzerland (and an afternoon in France) I am back home again. I began my writing telling about the internet connectivity I had chosen for my trip. So now it is time to tell how well it worked for me. You may recall I selected a Vodaphone plan to take away. It was one of their Red plans - the $50 one.
The marketing suggests I would get
Infinite standard minutes in Aust
Infinite Text in Oz and OS
Infinite Voice mail
Infinite 13 and 1800 calls
and $65 of stuff I did not think I wanted or needed.
All of this would translate internationally to 47 other countries including Switzerland for $5 per day used overseas.
It seemed very good so we need to ask, Did it Deliver?
Bikes are big in Basel. In fact bikes are big everywhere in Switzerland - and Switzerland has hills - mountains. It surprised me. These bikes are ordinary bikes. They are not the amazing sporty things we see all across Australia, they are just normal bikes. They have gears and they have baskets to carry stuff. And joy of joys, they have dynamos for the light kit. I recall the joy of getting my first dynamo kit for my bike as a kid. It meant freedom to be out late at night. Of course in winter in the north of England, late at night meant 4.30pm but I still see the dynamo as a mark of freedom.
In Switzerland a bike is a tool, it is not a fitness statement or a recognition of sporting prowess it is just a tool to get from here to there efficiently. Families are out on bikes at all ages. Bikes with trailers behind to drag the youngest along. The youngest progress to bikes with no pedals to scoot along and get good at balance. Then kids graduate to small genuine bikes and head out riding.
Everybody rides and locks their bike to the nearest fence, gate or traffic pole. Bikes need to be secure, it needs to be waiting for you as you head home.
I am a total aircraft nut. Today I made the trek out to Basel EuroAirport of a spot of spotting. It seemed like an ordinary trip. There was not much happening. Just the regular run of travellers at a smaller regional airport. The airport reminded me lots of Adelaide airport. It has a ramp up to the top deck like we do, but they use their ramp still.
It is an interesting airport because it lives half in Switzerland and half in France.
They joke that you need to show your passport as the plane rattles down the runway.
Certainly inside the terminal there is a French side and a Swiss side. You do not need to show your passport to cross. Big concern is that coffee is paid for in Euro in the French half but Francs across the boarder.
The airport has three airport designators. It is known as BSL for Basel but since it also serves Mulhouse in France and Freiburg it has other codes. MLH is the French code for Mulhouse and EAP is the code for EuroAirport. If you ever want to fly to Basel it is an idea to try all three codes you may find extra carriers that way.
It was quiet this morning as I was there with only a few flights due in or out so I wandered about the Swiss side and out onto the wonderful viewing platform. There was very little to view - until…
Eating in Basel, indeed all Switzerland so far, has been wonderful. We loved the Turkish place we found in the old city especially. A wholesome rich mix or food that left us feeling cared for and well fed.
We were certainly not intending to do Italian any time on this trip but did find ourselves in a wonderful pizza place one evening. There is a place that I must talk about. It blew us away.
We were invited to join a group of ex pat Australians here in Basel at a place they like to frequent. This was so good we just had to go back to be sure. It is Italian and it is just excellent.
Having arrived at my hotel in Zermatt, which I thought was a really good hotel, terrific value and very well setup for my needs, I was exploring, as you do. I wanted to sneak a look at the menu and calculate the cost for dinner in the hotel before walking off to a pizza bar.
I believe, when we explore like this, one of our main senses is listening. I was listening hard so as not to open a door on a private conversation or a seminar. There was a notice of a seminar so I did not want to walk in on them.
I love to travel but don't get to as much as I want. Occasionally I get to make a trip. When I do I'll post a few pics and thoughts about my places. I'll also drag out a few old photos from time to time and remember my time in those exotic places.