Networking on borrowed time, and with no apostrophes, so here is the prose poetry version of our trip to Europe so far: sunny drive to Halifax, painless pre-clear of US customs, US Airways to Philadelphia on time and pleasant, 4 hour layover made less seeming so by the myriad distractions of PHL. US Airways to Munich on time and pleasant (I watched Cyrus, which I recommend… Catherine watched The Jones, Sorcerers Apprentice and Grownups, none of which she recommends) and we even got a bit of sleep.
Arrived Munich bright and early Saturday morning (very nice, spacious airport) and had coffee outside, despite frigid temperatures. Caught train downtown and found Oliver a Nintendo DS euro-charger (our second) at Karstadt. Caught the train to Ulm (sleek ICE train) and then from there the train to Basel (non-sleek milk run with 30 degree cabin but stunning views of Lake Constance that made up for it).
Arrived Basel in a snowstorm so caught a taxi to the wrong city instead of walking (it turns out that many surrounding communities have a “Basel Street”). Found right city with help of patient taxi driver (Saint Louis) and delighted in our location 50 feet from the Swiss-French border. Hungry and tired so walked across the street and had Mongolian grill, which was filling and exciting because the “grill” was on the table between us.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday in Basel. Paper Museum was great and interactive and everything I ever dreamed it would be: made paper, set type, printed, sealed, quill-pen-wrote. Christmas Market an unexpected highlight: ate two suppers there just because it was cheap and fun and of wide variety (raclette, fondue, pizza, crepes, and lots and lots of mulled wine). Vitra Design Museum, across the Rhine in Germany but an easy 20 minute bus ride, was just absolutely amazing: picture an IKEA, but without all the cheap disposable stuff, and located in buildings designed by the great architects of the world (Gerhy, Hadid, Siza, Herzog & de Meuron). The Hadid fire station was, perhaps, the most interesting building I have ever been inside. (Hint if you visit: take the 2 hour architectural tour — very, very worthwhile).
We split up today: Catherine and Oliver to the Kunstmuseum Basel for the art, me to the public library to slave over work at 6 CHF an hour using their Internet terminals to solve technical issues back home (equal parts annoying and thrilling; technical issues were solved, so ultimately satisfying).
Flew easyJet from Basel to Venice after supper tonight (quick and painless; a nice trend this trip), took a 30-minute water bus ride to the stop nearest our rental apartment and were met by the owner at the dock. Chilly 5-minute walk to the apartment, a once-over of all the systems, and we were on our own. Catherine and Oliver put laundry in and went to sleep right away, but I could not contain myself so I took a walk through the streets and bridges from here to the train station just to get the feel (hint: mind blown).
Venice for three days, then on to Croatia via Ljubljana for the weekend.