Turret on house

Today we move out of Switzerland and back into Germany for the last few days of our holiday.

We had planned to see just one more racing track – the Nürburgring. To get there we took the train from Basel back to Koblenz in Germany and then a short trip to Andernach where we would stay the night as this was a convenient place from which to get to the track.

Turret on houseA house with a turret in Andernach

We planned to take an early train from Olten to Basel, spend the morning looking around the city and then catch the afternoon train for the 4-hour ride to Koblenz in Germany. Interestingly, there is also a Koblenz in Switzerland not far from where we had spent the last few days and Nadia could not understand why we felt we had to leave so early as it “only takes 2 hours to get to Koblenz.” She had not realised that we were referring to the Koblenz in Germany and I had not known that there was a town with the same name in Switzerland so for quite a while we spoke at opposite purposes. We were once again surprised by her parents’ generosity in that they insisted on driving us to Basel and spending the morning showing us around.

Like Geneva, Basel straddles the border with France and so, at the entrance and departure areas of both the airport and the train station, there are direction signs for each of these 2 countries. I knew about the one at the airport having come through it in 2008 so was not surprised to see one at the station as well. It was also quite interesting to find that although we were so far north and west in Switzerland, we had moved from the German speaking into the French speaking area of Switzerland.

Ornate tiles roof and wallsAbeautiful building with coloured tiles as a roof in Basel

Basel is a fascinating city with the oldest university in Switzerland opened in 1460. In the street where we saw a plaque telling detailing information on the university there were some of the most interesting doors and deep set windows at the front of many of the buildings, some of which dated from the 16th Century. Many of the roofs of the city buildings have been made with coloured tiles.

Info on oldest university built in 1460Sign for the oldest university in Europe

Visiting the St Elizabeth’s Cathedral was a highlight of the morning. We have visited many cathedrals in Europe and the UK and they are all still very ornate and traditional whereas this one has been modernised and is now used by 3 Protestant denominations. The altar is a modern wooden one and has been brought forward and placed at the front of the Sanctuary, there are some beautiful tapestry banners hung on the walls and the pews have been replaced with free standing chairs to allow for different ways of arrangement for different activities. The organ has been refurbished and the pipes look quite magnificent.

Basel cathedralBasel Cathedral with its clock tower and coloured tiled roof

Nave of Elizabethan CathedralNave of the Cathedral

Organ in refurbished Elizbethan CathedralThe refurbished organ of the Cathedral

 We spent some time walking along the bank of the Rhine watching the river traffic which I find really fascinating. It just never stops, transporting people and goods for hundreds of miles. The good part is that there are no traffic jams. We stopped for lunch at a small pavement café which was beside a busy bus stop which had a sign showing how many more minutes before each bus was due to arrive. Being Switzerland, like the trains every bus arrived at the correct moment.

Cafe from 1870The cafe, established in 1870, where we had lunch

Bus times of arrivalSign showing when buses will arrive

Then came the sad part of having to say goodbye to the Briners and take the train to Koblenz. This is such a beautiful part of the world to travel through, especially if you can sit back on the train and enjoy. At Koblenz we changed trains to travel the 15kms to the town of Andernach from where we planned to travel to the Nürburgring the next day. On arrival at Andernach station we were a little daunted to discover that, to reach the hotel, meant a 10min uphill walk. When making the booking the website said, 10min walk from the station but it did NOT say that it was uphill the whole way! Thankfully we had packed light so could pull our cases up the hill.

Our accommodationOur excellent accommodation in Andernach

House with exposed wall 2House with extended wall in Andernach

To pass the time until 11:00, we wandered down into the town of Andernach and discovered that it has experienced a very interesting history over its 2000 years of existence. Like so many European towns it was surrounded by a well-built wall and a castle built during the 1st Century and parts of both stand today. It is best known for the Battle of Andernach in 939 and as a town where American soldiers were based at the end of WW2. There is a wall on which the soldiers marked their home states and the possible distances to them. In 2008 a museum of experiences of the people of the town during the war was opened we really appreciated visiting it.

Directions to USA by GIsDirections and distance to the soldiers’ home towns and states

Info on US GIs map to homeInformation on the signpost markings in Andernach

As has happened so often with us, our plans did not come to fruition but we had a really good day anyway. The day went like this. The hotel receptionist told us to get a train at 11:00 and to change trains at Remagen and then take a bus at the end of that line. We would have just 3mins to change trains but as it was just a 2 line station this was not a problem. More of this in my next blog

From there we made our way to the station as it was almost 11:00. Tomorrow we leave for Frankfurt from where we will return to Durban, South Africa

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