Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hiking Around Basel

The kids were busy with friends today, so Mat and I rented our mobility car and took a drive to do some hiking.  We didn't go far - just about 20 minutes away from our house and still part of the Baselland Canton.

Our first stop was the town of Nenzlingen where the Riccola herb gardens are located.  We were able to park right in town, for free and hike easily to the gardens (about 15 minute walk).  The gardens are beautiful and surrounded by the Jura mountains.  I have been here a few times with my Basel Walkers group and it never disappoints.

We spent some time hiking the area and then exploring the Riccola Herb garden itself.

On our way to the Riccola fields

 Riccola Herb Garden.  It is free to walk around

After the Herb garden, we got back in the car and drove a little further to Pfeffingen where the Pfeffingen Castle Ruins are located.  Again - we were able to find free parking very close to the bottom of the hill leading up to the castle and then walk.  This hike was a bit more difficult as it is up hill.  The beginning is pretty steep, but as you near the Ruins, it levels out a bit.

The view from the Ruins was spectacular.  We spent time exploring them (this is a free activity) and enjoying the view into the heart of Basel from the top.  You can, of course, see Roche tower from here as well.  Always gives us a giggle.

On our way to the castle ruins

 Pfeffingen Ruins.  Originally build in the early 1200s

You can see Roche tower in the distance


 There was a school at the bottom of the hill.  Built in the 1700s
 These are all over Basel.  They are places for Bees

It was a great way to spend the afternoon

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Small Hike Around Riehen

Mat and I are trying to use our weekends we have left to see a few places not that far away.  I have done several hikes with the Basel Walkers group and he has never gotten to come along.

The ones in Riehen are among my favorites.  Today we chose to walk among the vineyards that are on the hillside.  IT wasn't a long walk, but it was beautiful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Life is Returning

Well - it has been 100 days and I FINALLY got to go to a restaurant with friends.  The restaurants opened about a week ago, and today I met two friends at one of our favorite Portugese restaurants.  (Spark) We sat outside, and all of the tables were 2 meters (6 feet) apart.  The waiters were wiping down all the tables between patrons and also about once an hour.  They had blown up the menus very big and were standing them near the tables to prevent having to hand out menus to everyone (and have to then wipe them down).  All the wait staff were in masks.

It was a good set up to allow restaurants to be open again.  And the food was delicious as always!  I was grateful to be out.

Mat and I sat by the Rhine later that day and relaxed in one of our favorite spots.  This spot is at the top of my list of places I will miss most about Basel when we move.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Arlington's Last Day of High School

Today is Arlington's official last day of school.  Due to Coronavirus, the school was able to speed up the final testing and requirements for the seniors, so she finished up today.

I cannot believe she is finished with high school.  She started this school year as a high school junior, but by early fall it was clear that she would be wrapping up her high school career this year.

So she became an official senior and started to apply to college.  5 college acceptances later, she chose University of Massachusetts and started making plans for her future beyond high school.

Coronavirus didn't slow her down.  Thankfully her school was able to continue classes as normal online and get the kids all of their requirements to graduate.  And today - that all ended.  Arlington is officially a high school graduate.

Here in Switzerland, "pomp and circumstance" is not really a thing.  There are no cap and gowns or big parties.  No graudation ceremonies.  Since compulsory school ends at age 16, and kids decide at that time to go to jobs or technical school or continue school in their gymnasiums (high level high schools) and head off to college.  What is celebrated is their accomplishment and what is coming next.  They are becoming adults in the eyes of Switzerland and that is a good enough reward.

Because we are Americans, I did get Arlington a cap and gown in her school colors to celebrate her graduation.  We had to wing it for the rest since I don't have access to Amazon right now to get any kind of party supplies.  At least we have cake.

This summer when we return to the United States we will celebrate with family.  We will pull out all the stops to remind her how proud of her we are.  Although - we can take a page out of the Swiss handbook, and just wish her well on her future journey.  Because what is behind her is no where near as exciting as what is in front of her.

Look out world - here she comes.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Corona Virus - another month later

Switzerland is starting to make progress in reopening the country post Coronavirus.  After a few weeks of less than 100 cases a day (and none here in Basel), today schools for students up to the age of 15 open.  There are a lot of rules that are in place for that opening (kids will be very restricted in their movements).  Today Finley and Cainan return to school.  Arlington and her age group do not go back until June 8th.  And Mat's job is still requiring everyone to work from home.

Some of the highlights for the return are: 1) kids will not move around from class to class - all teachers will come to their class and they will stay put all day.  2) all desks will be 6 feets (2m) apart and studnets are assigned a desk and are not allowed to get up and visit other students for any reason.  3) lunch will be in the classrooms  4) one class outisde at a time and they must social distance.  5) When students arrive, they are met by a teacher/staff member at the door.  They have different doors assigned for entrance for different age groups.  And only a few studdents can enter at a time.  6) no locker use at all - no time in the hallways unless they need to use the bathroom.  7) no clubs, after school care, after school activities.  8) PE will be modified.  9) all staff and teachers are in masks and no close contact with students.  These are just a few of the rules.  The instructions are even more extensive for the little kids.

Restaurants also open today.  Again - with lots of rules in place.  Most shops also open today.  Even some museums.  Groups of 5 or more cannot still gathering in public spaces.  But progress has been made.  I am anxious to see how it goes.

We are getting there.  By June 8th - the next opening time (if all goes well) zoos and most museums and workplaces begin to open.  The groups that will be allowed to gather - the number will increase (don't know what that number will be yet).  We were told that there will be no gatherings of 1000 or more until well into the fall.  The borders will not open for us who just want to cross "willy nilly" will not happen until the fall.  The Swiss are being cautious.  And they should be.

Only time will tell how this will go.  In a city where almost all travel is done by public transportation - I will be anxious to see if our numbers increase with a bunch of people now released into the population at once.  Switzerland has done a good job with this.  They have kept strict quarantine measures in place for a very long time and truly saw the virus almost all but disappear before they even considered opening ANYTHING.  They have also made very straight forward plans that have been consistent to the public.  They have warned us that if things change, they will put everything back in lock down.  We have had good leadership through this, which I know the US is lacking.

We shall see.