Basel-Mulhouse Europort politics and madness

Ahhh the madness! Two countries sharing the one international airport with a border smack bang in the middle.  Who would have thought? One side owned by the Swiss. The other side owned by the French. Your car hire return Location was dependent on which country you were returning it to.

For us us we were returning the car on the French side but accidentally went to the Swiss side after following the car rental signs. The Swiss side was better sign posted than the French and we ended up needing to walk 15 minutes to return our vehicle once we made it in the right (but wrong) car park. We accidentally parked it in the French rental overflow car park much to Josh and my disgust

Once inside it was pretty easy. On the top departures floor there was no barrier (see photo of Josh). On the lower arrival level there was a big border barrier preventing you from crossing from one country to the next. Even outside you couldn’t walk from one side to the other. The whole terminal length would have been all of 800m tops. On the French side all shops used euros. On the Swiss side they used Swiss francs.

Once inside we relaxed and waited for our plane to depart. it was pretty easy and EasyJet was as easy as they came despite the bun fight for seats, baggage space etc. I couldn’t help think our own JetStar was modelled on this airline.

Our copenhagen home is three stops on the metro from the airport and a short 500m walk. We are staying in a lovel modern Danish home in a rejuvenated industrial area. Lin and Beth arrive late tomorrow night and we hop on the cruise ship on Tuesday morning.

It would be remiss of me to finish our post without mentioning Julianne and Anita, our lovely hosts from just outside of Colmar. They kindly gave the boys biscuits and lollies on our departure this morning and insisted on use having a ‘family’ photo. Our home for a week was perfect and it suited us very well. They were fantastic hosts and they were incredibly generous, friendly and helpful. The Boulangerie was a highlight and it consistently had a queue of 4+ people at 7 in the morning.  we will miss our short stroll to get breakfast rations each morning,

Tomorrow we hope to do some fun things to burn a bit of teenage boy energy.

A lazy day

Our pace has been a bit frantic, so we opted for a low key day today. The weather has not been kind to us- most days it has been foggy with showers, and today it’s been raining for most of the day. The boys and I walked around our little town to see the remains of a castle from the 1300’s and to sample the chocolate from the chocolate factory. We returned drenched.

I was hoping to go for a hike up to see a WWI memorial at Le Linge, but the rain dampened the appetite somewhat for that. Instead, we decided to drive up to a farm near the site for lunch. The Alsace region prides itself on its cuisine, and there are lots of little farm-restaurants (ferme-auberge) around the mountains and valleys that offer their own produce. We expected a tiny farm with a few tables. On arrival, we found three bus loads of visitors, and a thriving restaurant. We had no idea what to expect (nor were there any choices as far as we could work out) but ended up enjoying a delicious 3 course meal.

 

 

I think this is the local Munster cheese- but I may be wrong!

IMG_5187

Le Linge (the WWI memorial) turned out to be fascinating. There were many trenches you could walk in, as well as the old barbed wire remains at the front. We would have liked to explore it further, but driving rain, wind and 7 degrees saw us scurrying back to the car pretty quickly.

On our way home, we drove past dark forests, quaint little towns and picturesque vineyards. What a gorgeous part of France this is! The day ended quietly with the boys playing checkers and downball under the carport. We are packing tonight to leave for Copenhagen tomorrow. We will be sad to leave France and our obliging hosts who have gone out of the way to ensure we are enjoying ourselves (even going as far as to apologise for the weather!). On to new adventures tomorrow!

 

Josh’s Blog – Back 3 Europe 2017! Majestic Middle-Europe (Switzerland)

Hi all,

We began the day by getting up at 6am. Dad wanted an early start and so this is what we did. The funny thing is that I had been waking up at 4:30am previously, and the one day that I didn’t was today. How does that work? Anyway, after driving for around 2 hours (nothing compared to the 26 hour plane flight) we arrived at our destination: Lucerne (Luzerne), Switzerland. After deducting (from asking the information person) that the cable car up to the mountains wasn’t working due to the high wind, we travelled around the mountain to where the cog train was. These trains go up such steep tracks that they need cogs to effectively ‘pull’ them up the mountain. The ride took about 30 minutes. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, we discovered why the cable car wasn’t operating. The wind was really powerful! After having lunch in the main viewing area (which afforded a stunning view of the surrounding countryside), Dad, Caleb and I decided to walk to one of the summits (there were three). I nearly got blown off the mountain by the gusts on the top of the peak. It was crazy! After that we had a bowl of chips in the self-serving restaurant near the peak we climbed. Interesting as the mountain was, after about 2 hours we had had enough so we took the train back down.

We hadn’t quite finished with Switzerland yet, so we drove to a really nice park and had ice cream. It was 26 degrees (according to the car)! After that nice 20 minute break we hopped in the car and drove home. We are having pasta for dinner tonight – some authentic French cuisine.

So that was our day; mountains, parks and ice cream.

Josh

Definitely not a Swiss miss.

Today was a big day. Up early to start our adventure to our much-loved Switzerland. After a quick trip to our boulangerie for breakfast, literally 20m from our front door, we began the day. Our destination was Lucerne (no hay jokes please as we’ve had them all day) where we planned to ascend Mt Pilates. At 2700m it overlooks pretty much everything but Jan Frau Jac 100km down the road. There are three ways to get to the top. Hiking which we politely opted out of. Cable car (times two) which wasn’t running due to the high wind. Or cog train, our only option which turned out to be a lot of fun.

Reaching the top after a 40 minute train ride, we went for a brief walk before heading back in doors. The weather rolled in and our plans for hiking, mixing with the mountain cows and enjoying the mountain scenery were dismantled by some incredible rain and wind. Having spent $400 to get us all to the top we weren’t to be deterred. Josh, Caleb and I (tim) ventured to the top during a break in the weather. It was however tough as the wind and rain were unbelievably strong. Even at my ‘muscular weight’ I thought I was going to be blown off the summit. After spending all of 10 seconds at the top we made a quick retreat back to the comfort of the dining room where we enjoyed the delights of ‘mountain priced’ Swiss French fries. They were good but we definitely added to the second mortgage.

We then descended Mt Pilates before heading into Lucerne for a look-see. It was a beautiful afternoon and a balmy 25 degrees; a stark contrast to the near freezing temperatures at the top of Mt Pilatus. We enjoyed coffee, tea and ice creams on the lawn overlooking the lake whilst Caleb Attenborough, our nature-loving boy filmed his latest episode of ‘Walking with Geese’ on the shores of Lake Lucerne. I’m pleased to report he made it out alive as we bid our farewells to him as he ventured into the middle of a flock of about 15-20 very large Swiss-German speaking geese. Switzerland is a magnificent place and I’d love to spend mor time relaxing in such a beautiful country.

We enjoyed our 1:40 minute drive back to our comfortable French home for a simple pasta meal. With all of our Colmar ‘bucket list’ items ticked off, tomorrow is a day of opportunity. Let’s see what the day holds……

 

Day five in Switzerland

Hi everyone!

Another good day in Europe. Today, we went to Switzerland, and climbed a mountain! Well, climbed it via a cog train. When we got to the top, we saw an absolutely breathtaking view. So since we couldn’t go down to the mountain luge, Dad, Josh and I tried a walk to the summit of the mountain. Bad idea. The luge was closed because of all the wind, and we were hard pressed to keep ourselves from plunging to a gruesome death kilometres below the sheer cliff face! We thought this was extreme. Right up until we saw two rock climbers climbing to the summit WITHOUT a harness!!! When we got to the top, a sudden gust of wind forced us to cling onto a handy metal pole. We might have been blown off without it. (No exaggeration!). When we got down, we told Mum and Daniel that they had to try it, so they did. And chickened out before they got to the gate. Too windy, they said! As we went back down the mountain, Matty entertained us with many creative stories about two cog trains, named Harry and Cog. When we got down, we found it to be a beautiful day, so we went to a park. Considering the price of everything in Switzerland that was burning a hole in Mum and Dad’s pocket, it was a welcome relief to enjoy something that was actually free. Well, free right up until Dad very kindly bought us an ice cream. So much for saving! Enjoying our poison (as Dad likes to call it), we made our way to the sandy shores of a lake, were two flocks of geese were sleeping. To shouts of “It’s been nice knowing you!”, and jeers I sat among the geese, half expecting to get charged. I wasn’t, so I ventured closer and was rewarded with a warning honk. I foolishly ventured closer, and closer… Until I was right in the middle of one of the flocks. Surprisingly, the geese didn’t charge me, perhaps sensing my awe-inspiring charisma, easygoing nature, and David Attenborough-like way with animals. As we make our way back home, I am writing this blog and looking forward to collapsing with exhaustion.

 

 

The amazing lense-day four in Colmar

Hi all,

Today has been an amazing day. I have ridden in a Ferrari, seen a Buggatti Veyron, had a hot chocolate, seen a war memorial, visited a car museum, and visited castle remains. What a day! At the crack of dawn (11:00 AM… note the sarcasm) we set off for a mountain which had a lot to offer, including a luge run and a farm. We were all looking forward to it until it started raining/hailing. This was very disappointing, and we were all feeling downhearted. But then some genius eg Dad, had the bright idea that we should sip hot chocolate and coffee until the weather cleared up! Half an hour later, and the weather got worse. We couldn’t see five metres in front of us! So back down the mountain we went, to visit a war memorial which contained the graves of 16,000 soldiers who died in ww1, which proved Very sad.😐😕🙁☹️😣😖😫😩😥😨😰😱😭. After this, absolutely everyone expressed unanimous enthusiam to visit the most acclaimed car museum in the world. While Dad and I visited the museum, the others had a snooze. When we arrived at the gates, there was a modern art installation containing the brass replicas of 16 cars. Since the advertisement said this museum contained 16 Buggattis, I had a moment of “is that it?”. Thankfully, it wasn’t. As I went in, I realised how wrong I was. Hundreds of priceless cars lining the floor from all sides! I couldn’t wait to start looking. But then Dad saw a sign offering something better… A self-drive ride in a Ferrari. Although the ride was short and the Ferrari was from 1988, it fullfilled a lifelong dream for both me and Dad… And Matthew. He had a ball! As we went back inside, Dad, me and Matthew were amazed. We saw many famous cars including the F1 Michael Schummacher raced in,a Ferrari tessterossa, and a real Buggatti Veyron! It was astounding. Fully impressed, Dad, me and Matthew headed back to the car. From their we explored a castle near our house, and collapsed onto the couch.

Route Des Cretes

Waiting for the weather to clear…it didn’t

We had thought we would venture to Switzerland today, however the weather forecast was for snow at our destination. Instead, we did a drive through the National Park just up the mountain from our valley- the Parc Naturel Regional Des Ballons Des Vosges. Unfortunately, the weather proved to be against us in this as well. We did get a brief glimpse through the cloud at the reportedly awe-inspiring view, but mostly we were shrouded in mist.

I love the sound of cow bells!

IMG_5070

Nevertheless, the forests we drove through were beautiful. The road we took, the Route des Cretes, was built during WWI by the French to communicate between the valleys along the Vosges. Many were killed here. We stopped at a memorial honouring the dead which was previously the site of one of the bloodiest battlefields along the Alsatian front. There were a number of trenches and tunnels, along with their barbed wire, still present. It was hard to imagine the horrors that this place must have held for the soldiers in the stillness of the forest now. We walked amongst the remains of warfare until pouring rain forced us back to the car.

Trenches

The car museum at Mulhouse was our last stop for the day. Tim, Caleb and Matthew all ventured in while the rest of us lazed in the car. Apparently, it was worth the effort to go in. Tim fulfilled a life long dream by driving an old Ferrari around a track, while Caleb loved the Buggattis. Now home, we are partaking in our usual of reading books, playing board games and sleeping. I’ll let you guess who is sleeping at the moment! I think we have well and truly settled into our holiday rhythm! Continue reading “Route Des Cretes”

Mrs Mug and friends

Hi all. All events in this story are true

I’m extremely sorry that I didn’t write yesterday. The reason why I didn’t write is because I suddenly had a seizure of jet lag. This jet lag must be extremely contagious to mugs because before I could say espresso, Mrs Mug soon developed this mug prone disease.

I always had a theory that my mother tried to sneak in education whenever possible. Well this theory has been proven. When we were driving to the airport at 2:00am on Friday, Mum discussed a point system “to lighten up our day” (or in my case, get us to learn French).  If you had a conversation with a stranger then you gained a point. Caleb and soon found a loophole with this scheme of education. While we were in Colmar, we saw a tourist train rolling by on the road. All the passengers on the train were listening to a electronic tour with headphones on. While they were rolling past, Caleb shouted out “Bonjour. J’mapalle Caleb”. Because our touring train travelers were too busy listening to the tour, they couldn’t hear our eccentric friend shouting at them. Caleb’s hopes were soon dashed. The result of this undisciplined behaviour was that no point was awarded. The winner of the educational contest won €10! Most people know that I am an extremely good writer, an amazing sporting ability, a beautiful personality and a lot more, but I soon discovered that I am also exceptionally good at speaking French. From this long list of achievements you might have guessed already who won. Yes, the extraordinaire at languages, Daniel the great.

One of my favourite memories of the pretty town of Colmar is that we had a coffee (or in my case a hot chocolate) on the banks of the complicated name of little Venice. You can probably guess from the name that this place looked like a mini Venice. You might all be thinking “how come an amazing person like Daniel could possibly find this name complicated?”. Well, I was informed by an annoying traveller, Mrs Mug, that this Petite Venice actually meant it was Coffee Venice. After pocketing my €10, I was quite happy to settle down into bed at 7:30 because of jet lag.

Today, like all other days, I had a unnecessarily early start. When I went to bed at 7:30 the night before, I had hoped that I would sleep in. Unlike some people I know, a sleep in for me is a sleep until 7:00am. There are two reasons why I woke up at the ridiculous time of 3:58am. Firstly, I was woken up by the annoying sound of a coffee machine which Mrs Mug was using as her shower, and secondly, I had jet lag. The two words at the end of the last sentence strike fear into every traveller’s heart. After being rushed out of the door, we visited Germany. While in the car, we had a brief conflict in the the car of two wills wanting to do two different things. Stubban as a mule, Mrs Mug eventually defeated her frightened opponent, and decided that we as a family would go to the town of Breisach am Rhein. This town sounded like it was in the middle of nowhere, and for once I was wrong.

After touring Germany, we slumped on the coach relieved that our day was finally over. After eating our French cheese for the day, we prepared dinner and then Mum and Dad took a walk. Finally we all slumped into bed. From now on each day, I will reveal one clue on who won the French and German comp. Please guess in the comments below who has won. The winner of today’s name has been to Germany recently, and dominated others because of his German abilities.

I hope everyone enjoys this blog written by none other than the great Daniel Anderson. To those who thoroughly did not like my blog, Continue reading “Mrs Mug and friends”

Germany beckons

Enjoying kafee and tee along with apple pudding

We decided that we’d spend our day in Germany today. What a luxury to be able to choose that! It was a short 20 min drive over the Rhine to Breisach am Rhein, and from there we wound our way around pretty little villages, stopping occasionally to wander. We were even lucky enough to find a second hand shop! The middle two boys valiantly tried their German out, but Josh well and truly won the ‘speaking the local lingo’ competition. It was quite impressive watching him in various cafes and shops! The countryside was beautiful, with fertile plains full of fruit trees and vines, and mountains towering in the background. The villages were lovely; the cobblestoned streets and ancient arches coupled with gold touches on signs and gorgeous clock towers were so different to the French villages on ‘our side’. I find it amazing that within such a short distance you can be in a new country with completely different customs, food and language. It is such a testament to the strong cultures of both countries that this is still so evident.

After a brief shopping expedition to Hyper-U (an enormous supermarket like the Carrefours that Tim likes so much), we again enjoyed the local French cheeses in our backyard in the afternoon sunshine. I think our local boulongerie is finding it amusing to have a steady stream of boys coming in, ordering French pastries and bread in their best French. Tim, Matthew and I tried to walk off some of our excess food intake this evening by strolling around our local town. To our surprise, what we had originally thought was a fairly ordinary and non-descript village, contained treasures such as a well built in 1730, beautiful old church, and the remains of a castle torrent (13th century).

Josh is currently reading Matthew a bedtime story in German, courtesy of the second hand store that we found. Josh is insisting that Matthew copies his German on occasion, so we might have a little German speaker soon too!