Train to Basel

This morning we found a post office and mailed some weighty items back home to Australia. I was pleased to lighten my suitcase by almost 6kg, especially as we still have eight weeks of travelling before we return home and also because we have had a few instances of having to carry our cases up and down stairs. It should be much easier going from now on.

Everyone we’ve met in France has been friendly and helpful, and always willing to help out with English when our French language wasn’t good enough, but the best guy I’ve come across yet in France is the guy at the post office in Rue de Ledru Rollin, who went out of his way to help me get my stuff safely back home with a minimum of fuss.

We had to check out of our hotel by midday, but our train to Basel was not leaving until after 2pm, so we came up with a plan for the morning. We would walk along the Seine towards Notre Dame, and return in time to check out, then buy some baguettes and bring them back to the hotel where we could eat them in the beer garden. Sometime after 1pm we would wheel our suitcases down a few streets to Gare de Lyon, the railway station. From there we would catch our 2.23pm train to Basel in Switzerland.

This morning was a perfect sunny day in Paris, with blue skies and moderate temperatures. It was a beautiful walk along the river. Although the police were still blocking off the streets around the fire damaged cathedral, we were able to get close enough to see the cranes stretching out over the structure and the workmen getting on with the massive clean-up and repair job. Marg and I will return to Paris in one week from now, so it will be interesting to see if any progress is visible.

From Gare de Lyon we caught the fast train directly to Basel. It travelled at speeds of around 300kmh through the green fields of France, passing many small villages and occasionally stopping at a larger city or town. We’re still travelling with my brother, Rod, and his wife, Cornelia, and we’re excited to be going to Basel because it is Cornelia’s home town and we’ll be staying in her childhood home. Cornelia has been living in Melbourne for over 30 years now, and she’s always wanted to bring us to Basel and show us around, so it’s a special occasion for her too.

Cornelia’s mum, Christine, has recently moved from the house to a care facility, and we’re going to visit her tomorrow morning. Marg and I are very fond of Christine, as she has visited Melbourne on a number of occasions over the years, and we get on very well together. Her home is on four levels, as the laundry and cellar are downstairs from the entry, the kitchen and dining room are on the entry level, and there are bedrooms on the highest two levels. Christine was a music teacher, and a large piano on the entry level is a feature. I glanced through the sheet music on the piano – Bach, Schubert and Mozart were there. On the bookshelves are biographies of many of the great composers of classical music.

Cornelia’s sisters, Ursula and Barbara, arrived and prepared dinner for us. Soon Barbara’s husband Claudio arrived. Dinner was a lot of fun. Our Swiss hosts all speak fluent English, so there was plenty of good food, wine, conversation and laughter around the dinner table, although occasionally the conversation switched from English to Swiss-German and then back again. For Marg and me, it was really refreshing to be sitting down to our first home cooked meal in almost five weeks and especially to be sharing it with Cornelia and her family in her childhood home in Basel.

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