One of our joys, since we moved here, was that we’re in the middle of Europe. If you take a look at the map, Basel is pretty close to some cool places. Distances are not that small though, even when having European highways, and airplane tickets are not as cheap as 10-25 euros like they were in Romania.
Our initial plan was to see Europe from a train like we used to travel while in college, but this is not such a good option these days either. Maybe we didn’t find enough information yet, but our initial estimations point to using the car when it’s the two of us traveling. In other words, two train tickets for a destination cost more than the car requires to go to the same destination. We sure hope to make this list bigger in the future, but for now, the available time does not allow us to visit as much as we would like to.
The only places where it’s easier for us to go by train are the ones covered by our TNW pass, which we need to have for our daily needs. This area is not very big and it doesn’t cover that much since it ends right before getting to a bigger city. Still, once in a while, we pack a bottle of water and some crackers and just leave to an unknown place that is covered by the pass.
The first of these destinations was Läufelfingen, a small village surrounded by endless green fields. We went there on Easter day after we enjoyed such a light lunch that we didn’t even feel it was Easter. I have to specify that all special days in Romania are celebrated by huge amounts of food, so this was quite special for us. In this village we almost felt like our eyes were hurting from such beautiful scenery, so we decided it was going to be the first out of many other day trips.
The next place was Laufenburg, a small town located on both sides of the Rhine, which splits the town into two areas: the German one and the Swiss one. Once there, you enjoy the beautiful architecture, you pass the river by a small bridge and you get to Germany. We weren’t very smart that day and decided to have a Greek lunch; I used to think it’s impossible to screw up a tzatziki sauce, but apparently, it is possible in here.
The only thing good about this lunch was the meat, everything else was just an offense brought to Greek food. We tried to wash our memories with an ice-cream from a place nearby, happy to enjoy the 30-40% cheaper option compared to the ones available after we would have crossed the bridge back.
One day after work we wanted to spend some time outside, so we took a train to Gelterkinden, another small town nearby. We didn’t spend more than two hours here, but we enjoyed the silence that we could find so close to the big Basel town.
It took us another afternoon to discover the town of Laufen, a place where we felt like children enjoying a long summer vacation, this is how the air was burning around us.
Apart from these short visits, we also managed to get further away. Our first special visit was to Strasbourg. The city is very beautiful, with its Petite France neighborhood, the Notre Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral and the mammoth fossil placed nearby.
Unfortunately, we had a small incident afterward, the day was just too good to be true. My husband didn’t pay attention for a few seconds and he managed to bump our car to a pipe that was crossing a wall in the parking lot; the pipe and wall were intact, but the car was dented and we had to take it to a garage.
But I almost forgot about the waitress that we almost had to beg to bring our check at the restaurant. The food was amazing, the service was great, but it took her 20-25 minutes to bring us the check, and the restaurant was almost empty.
She was avoiding our obvious stares, I felt weird for wanting to give someone money and not being able to. We were joking about just getting up and leaving, maybe she then she would come and take our money, so we could finally leave. Very strange way of doing business, that’s for sure!
After a while, my husband’s parents came for a visit. They wandered around by themselves on weekdays, but we had a long weekend to enjoy together. So on Saturday, we went to Luzern, a very nice city where we could enjoy a nice vibe.
On Sunday, we went for a visit to the Rheinfalls, a beautiful place to be if you like nature. From here, we went for a few hours to Zürich, where we almost felt like in Bucharest. Of course, it’s not the same, but it seems that two months in Basel made us quite sensitive to noise and crowdedness.
On Monday, the bonus day, we went to Mulhouse to also show them the French side of things. We visited an Automobile museum, where we saw more Bugatti cars than in Zürich, and we had to put in a lot of effort to find a place for a snack since we were outside the 12:00-14:00 interval when everyone goes to have lunch in France.
My husband’s parents were followed by his brother who visited us for almost a week. We went again to the Rheinfalls, but we managed to get to a different point, and after that, we went again to Zürich to meet a friend that was visiting someone there. The next day we went to Interlaken, an awesome area that made us look more into this part of the world.
After the first wave of visitors, we went around for short visits too. We have some friends in Dijon, and we went to them a few times. Here, we enjoyed sunbathing near lakes, short hikes through the woods, farm visiting to buy fresh produce we miss so much and we even found a place where we could harvest our apples right from the trees. On a different weekend we went camping near lake Neuchâtel, and the second day we took a lake trail using bikes and rollerblades.
The next visitors were my parents. We took them to Mulhouse, to also visit the Train Museum, which was indeed amazing. We also wanted to see Bern for a while, so we took this opportunity to convince ourselves that this is an unusual capital city, without the pollution and the noise of a usual one. We’re already thinking where would we take the next guests. We would want to choose new places also for the hosts, not only for the guests.
After my parents left, we only managed to go out twice. The first trip was to Freiburg im Breisgau, where we enjoyed a beer and a traditional show in a beer garden. From there, we started a search for the Danube’s birthplace and we finally succeeded in the end. In the same spot, at the only restaurant around, we found a Romanian waitress and lots of other Romanian families coming to visit. It is a place to visit for our people, and it made us feel a little bit like home.
The other one is very recent like we just came back from it yesterday. We were, with the same friends from Dijon, to visit the Annecy lake, where my husband can find lots of places for his paragliding interest. From the, on the way back, we took a small detour through Chamonix Mont Blanc.
The place is really beautiful and the view of the highest peak in Europe is worth a walk in the touristic little town nearby. Our plan for the future is to come back one day and spend the night in a secluded village nearby, but we need some time for it since only going there takes us four hours one way, so it’s not very easy to do this for a weekend.
After all of these places seen in only five months, the takeaway can only be that our bucket list gets bigger and bigger, even though we keep on crossing names from it. It’s like it’s multiplying, the more we see, the more we want to see other new places. I think we won’t ever feel like we’re going to finish this list, to be honest…