Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I don't know how he does it

After five days off, we had a really tough time getting up this morning. Part of the problem was that we'd gotten used to sleeping in, until after 10. (At least!) But the bigger problem was that my legs didn't want to move. Actually, never mind the legs. My whole body aches, and unlike Swissy Pie, I didn't even get on my bike every day. (Though 4 out of 5 ain't shabby, if you ask me.)

Not that we spent the whole weekend cycling. With the longer days - at the moment, the sun doesn't set until 8 pm - we have the luxury of running errands and/or exploring the region before saddling up. Friday, for example, Swissy Pie hurried me through breakfast so we could get to the Basel Zoo.

We weren't the only ones there: the whole city had apparently decided to visit the animals. (I guess it was one of the few attractions open on Good Friday.) Although we weren't spared the typical family dramas (dropped ice cream cones, lost toys, etc.), Swiss efficiency was very much in evidence. So, despite the long lines, we obtained our tickets and got past the gate quite quickly.

Though a few of the particularly cold-sensitive creatures were still indoors, most were outside basking in the sunlight, like these hippos:

I also liked the monkeys, especially the guys pulling on each others' tails...

...and the baby giraffe...

...and the wild birds infiltrating the zoo (a grey heron and storks)...

Oh, honestly. I liked all the animals!

Afterward we headed to the Black Forest for Day 2 of Swissy Pie's Great Adventure. Since we'd gone up to Sallneck Thursday afternoon, I needed a "recovery ride." Swissy Pie went back to Sallneck, but I took a more leisurely spin up past the town of Wies. Going out, it was a slow, steady climb, which made the downhill return really fun. The turns were broad and sweeping, so even someone like me, who's notoriously afraid of descending, only had to tap the brakes a few times!

On Day 3, Saturday, we attacked Hochblauen via Marzell. Swissy Pie had first taken me up there last autumn, by car. Even back then, the long and frequently steep climb made me wince. (12%+?! Oh, my knees!) But on the bike, it looked even more daunting. I really didn't think I would make it all the way up, but somehow, I put my head down, and inched my way up.

The reward? This (somewhat hazy) view. The glittering band on the horizon is the Rhine River. In the foreground, a few patches of snow are visible. (It was cold up there!)

I was so thrilled to have conquered Blauen that I didn't even feel particularly tired that evening. (Usually, after a tough ride, I'm a zombie.) The full effects didn't hit me until the middle of the night, when I woke up with so many aches that I thought I should move to a retirement home!

Fortunately, I figured I was pretty safe from further pain: I knew we had plans to visit Swissy Pie's family in Bern for Easter. Plus, I had to finish baking this Easter Bread. So I guessed that neither of us would do much cycling on Sunday.

But while I was waiting for my dough to finish rising, Swissy Pie shimmied into his cycling gear, stuffed a change of clothes into a backpack, and stuffed the car keys into my hand.

"Can you drop me off in Liestal?" he said. "I'm going to ride toward Bern. Call me when you head out - you can pick me up along the way."

I was in shock. Alright, so it was sunny and gorgeous outside, but it was also windy. I should also point out that about 100 km, and a nice mountain range called the Juras, separates the two cities... And did I mention that we'd been cycling the past three days? Yet, he nearly beat me there: I ended up meeting him about 5 minutes from his parents' house. Unbelievable.

Yesterday, needless to say, we were both back on the bike again. This time we went to Freiburg, a lovely university town in Germany (which is not to be confused with Fribourg/Freiburg, another lovely university town near Bern).

I quickly discovered my body was still in krank mode, so partway up the mountain Swissy Pie wanted to climb, I turned around. Good thing, too. He told me that after that, the going got really ugly: a 14% incline for the last 8 km that I didn't even attempt. So while he labored up, I sunned myself down in the charming little town of Oberreid.

Even after all that abuse, he was still bouncing around last night, full of energy and looking for the next mountain to conquer. Preferably today.

Fortunately for me, I've got other plans for this evening.

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Blogger Beejum said...

Dear Un-Swiss Miss - Yes! we are coming as long as we get our visas - we are still gathering the paperwork for those to turn over to the professor's secretary so she can submit it. We probably won't get them until sometime in June because of the timing of when he's getting his PhD, so there's still that bit of uncertainty.

I think I'd rather get a European bike, truthfully. The logistics of shipping a bike over to Europe just defeat me right now, with others' tales of airlines losing their stuff. Right now we're trying to keep the boxes being shipped to a minimum.

Love the photos, by the way! Those hippos look so cute and content basking in the sun.

April 10, 2007 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger myriam said...

hi unswissmiss. i love it that you took knut as your picture. isnt he cute as pie? sooo sweet... give me a shout once you are in z├╝rich and desperate for a piece of cake, ok?

April 10, 2007 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Oh wow - I quite remember Basel Zoo. In fact, I might have gone that very same time in 2004...

and your other adventures make me so homesick...

As your friend remarked about Vancouver, I'll trade it anyday for life back in Switzerland. You can do so much in such a little area...

I'm biased of course...

April 11, 2007 at 3:16 AM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Beejum - I've never had a problem taking my bicycle on a plane, but some airlines (Delta, Continental, etc) charge for this - around $100! Other airlines (United, American) don't charge on international routes, but only if it's under the usual per-piece weight limit and if it takes the place of one piece of baggage. So yeah, if you're moving, that might not be the most efficient use of your baggage allowance. =)

The other benefit of buying in Europe is that many bikes here are set up specifically for commuting, with lights, racks, etc. And in Switzerland you also get insurance with the bike.

Besides, if you change your mind, you can always pick up a US bike on another trip!

Myriam - I adore Knut! But I have a mean boyfriend who won't let me adopt him. >=(

Will definitely be taking you up on that cake offer. And please do the same if you ever come to Basel for any reason!

Expat Traveler - I'm amazed and baffled by how difficult the Canadian immigration sounds. Best of luck with that!

And oh - do you still have your bike in Canada? If so, there are a few resources you might want to check out. I'll go over to your blog and post them there.

April 11, 2007 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

wow it made me tired just reading about your bike adventures!

cuuuuute animals!!!

April 12, 2007 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger naechstehaltestelle said...

I went to the Freiburg before when I was doing a driving tour of Germany and France. I thought it was beautiful, especially the cathedral. Nice to know about the zoo. We'll have to take our son there, as we're only 80 km away or so.

April 12, 2007 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Goodness me, you have been busy!!! Great highlights and great photos!!

April 20, 2007 at 4:51 PM  

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