One of the more awesome (meaning both “excellent” and “some to be awed by”) things about living in Switzerland is that you can, on a whim, jump onto a train, go north an hour, and be in picturesque areas in either France or Germany. It takes slightly longer to get to Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, or Spain, but that is still a doable weekend jaunt.
Another fun fact about Basel itself is that it is on the Rhine River. There are a couple of river cruise companies that operate out of Basel and you can cruise in luxury all the way up to Amsterdam if you want. Something Mom and Dad really wanted to do was take a day-long boat trip on the Rhine.
The Swiss seem to thrive on being able to pick up and go at the last minute. Pretty much every mode of travel allows you to just go to a ticket counter, plunk down some money, and journey onwards. Like other modes of travel here, getting passage on a tour boat was not a problem.
We waited in a very long line until 5 minutes before the boat was to leave and then the person running the ticket counter told us we could buy a ticket ON the boat. So we hustled up and got onto the boat and got our tickets.
These kinds of tour boats are spacious and have a bit of luxury. They aren’t just rows of seats like a tour bus or a train car. They not only have benches set up outside on the deck, they also have tables and chairs set up in the inside cabin so you can sit in the cool air and eat lunch or have a coffee with dessert.
We got settled in and took a leisurely ride up to Rheinfelden (home to the Feldschlossen brewery). The ride took about 4.5 hours – 3 hours against the current and 1.5 on the way back with the current.
The trip had some lovely and unexpected scenery.
We got lunch and I introduced my Mom to the concept of the Flammenkuchen. A very Alsaceian dish that reminds me of a pizza, but it isn’t quite. It’s got a cracker-thin crust and instead of tomato sauce they spread a creme fraiche mixture on the crust and top it with cooked bacon or speck, onions, and Gruyere cheese. It is amazing. I sent Mom home with the recipe. I can only hope she does actually give it to The Pub in Charles City like she was thinking.
When we reached Rheinfelden a lot of the passengers got off the boat to walk around the city and take the train back to Basel. That would make a really great day trip to and from Basel. I highly recommend it.
We stayed on the boat because we wanted to get back to Basel by 5:00pm and meet Mark for dinner. As we paid our lunch bill, our very excellent waitress said she could secure us a table on the upper deck for the ride back. We decided to treat ourselves to dessert!
Look at this amazing Coupe Romanov.
The next day was a very special day: Mom’s birthday!
Oh yeah, and mine. I may or may not be 40. Mom is definitely not 40.
We celebrated by going to Marktplatz to see the awesome weekday markets and the Rothaus.
We bought some plums and a few radishes to have with our birthday dinners later that night. However, being around all that delicious produce made us really hungry so we stopped at Movenpick for lunch.
Mom liked the Flammenkuchen on the boat so much that we ordered two different kinds for lunch. Here is Mom with the Italian Flammenkuchen and, yes, those are bandage sheers.
The boys were also delighted with their burgers and fries. And they convinced us to spring for ice cream. And Movenpick has some of THE BEST ice cream in the world. It’s extremely creamy and full of flavor. Someone – who shall remain nameless, but who may also be my father – told the waitress that it was our birthdays so the waitress brought us our ice creams with lit sparklers in it!
We finished our delicious meal and headed out to buy copious and indecent amounts of chocolate from Laderach. Conveniently located next door to Movenpick.
Mark took us out to dinner at the BIS Club that night and we came back to the house for cake and ice cream. Dad bought Mom those lovely roses on the table.
The best thing about this birthday wasn’t the day out or the club or the cake (Grandma Genevive’s chocolate with raspberry filling for those keeping score at home), it was that I got to celebrate it with my Mom, who was also born on this day a few years before me. And my Dad was here to tell the story again how he heard me screaming through the elevator wall. Mark was right beside me being awesome and the kids gleefully showered us with gifts and drawings. I didn’t even mind turning 40.
I am really lucky.