Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Basel, Switzerland

Looking back at these pictures is quite funny for me. I went to visit my best friend in Basel at the start of August (well actually, the last day of July) and it was to be the start of a big continental adventure for me. The fact that I even got to visit her abroad was kind of surreal seeing as we met here in Ireland and the move was only recent. But then the fact that I got to go to as beautiful a country as Switzerland followed by one of my favourites, Germany, was just unfathomable, and still kind of is. The weather in Switzerland was kind of unbearable for my pale skin. The temperatures were between 30-36 degrees Celsius (86-97 Fahrenheit) which was such a difference to the highs we get at home: a good day is probably only 22 degrees (72F). Still, the beautiful sights and my friend and her family's hospitality made up for it. I really had a lovely time despite anxiety over my solo travels which had yet to truly begin.

The most striking thing to me about Basel was its multicultural nature. Interspersed with traditional Fachwerkhäuser (timbered houses) are signs with languages from all over the world, inviting people to essentially speak the language of their choosing. The range of restaurants also covered many many different cuisines whilst still maintaining prominent positions for Swiss food and beer! The language spoken there is a dialect of Swiss German which I found essentially impossible to understand, despite the fact that I can speak German (though not fluently!). It was hard then, to force myself to speak German because the people in shops and restaurants had to switch language anyway, whether it be to standard German or English! But I did it a couple of times and it was an interesting experience.

Switzerland in general is just so clean! The streets were clean swept, almost to the extent on Sundays (when pretty much everything is closed) that it looked like nobody at all lived there in Basel. I really did feel that there was a great sense of order, everything so well kept and so thoroughly planned, such as changed tram times on the day of the fireworks. Most of the buildings were old, made of various kinds of brick and stone. Thus the overall vibe was really put-together, a really interesting mix of old and new, as new shops and businesses occupied very class-looking buildings.

I couldn't possibly end this post without saying what I lovely time I had visiting my friend. To see your friends in new contexts is always interesting and fun, but to be able to look back at our week together and think of all the fun things we did and saw as well as all the foods she introduced to me and the crazy and deep conversations we had, is just incredible. When she left me off at the train station, I was a total bundle of nerves. I knew for sure that I'd miss her, as well as the safety and comfort her family had provided to me. The next part of my journey would involve 3 train journeys with no one meeting me on the other side to tell me where to go. The next leg of my trip taught me so much about who I am, and what I'm capable of, and I can't wait to share with you the rest of the best month of my year if not life!

Did you do any travelling this year?


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