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Published: September 5th 2017
Geo: 47.5667, 7.6
Today we begin our longest train journey of our vacation, 7 hours. It begins at precisely 8:00am with a three hour trip to Ulm, one hour layover and another three hour ride to Basel. We were up, dressed, packed (remember, we don't open our suitcases) and down for breakfast by 7am. I can't miss a free breakfast so we slam it down in 15 minutes and grab a taxi to the train station. Arriving 15 minutes before departure, we locate the platform and board the train. We manage to get a first class cabin to ourselves. It holds six people or two with loads of luggage.
We have a nice relaxing ride for the first half, knowing that when we change trains, this time we have an hour. Plenty of time for lunch in Ulm. We've done very well following the train schedule I developed months before we left home. I use the Eurail website to research routes between the different cities, taking into account duration, departure/arrival times,number of trains needed to complete journey and if reservations are necessary. I can check or recalculate any schedule via the app on my IPhone to verify where we are at any
Platform Screen Indicating Train Configuration.
Ours was on top so we waited at "C" for 1st class.
time. The only information I don't have in advance is the platform numbers for the trains at each station. That must be retrieved at each train station either with a printed train directory or the electronic board in the station which is updated every few minutes. It's the most accurate. In some stations they have charts that indicate where to wait along the platform for entry to certain cars, say 1st or 2nd class, how long the train is, dining or business cars, etc. I also use my phone to track where we are on a route as we travel or to see all the different stops the train will make along the way.
With regards to the weather, we haven't seen the sun since we arrived in Amsterdam almost two weeks ago. The temperatures here run from the 30s to the 40s during the day with drops into the 20s at night not uncommon. We were hoping for some snow but all we've got so far is remnants of a previous snowfall in Erfurt. However, we haven't been inundated with rain showers either. It's rained at night a few times but nothing to affect our daily travels so far.
Our Train Schedule
We follow this through our route. My research has shown these to be our best choices.
Fish and chips is our lunch at the station. While waiting, this weird guy keeps pacing around the counter. I have my backpack hooked to my luggage and my hand on top. He'll never be able to move the luggage. I can take him and I'm ready. Instead, he gets a beer out of the case, walks over to the counter and then runs off. We tell the lady but she says he does that often. What?? From Ulm, we take the 12:05 to Basel and arrive just after 3pm. Even though we have a free tram ride that will take us from the train station right to our hotel, our luggage prevents us from using it and we take the taxi. I note that the meter starts at 9 CHF (about $10) and our ride cost us a total 20 CHF. This luggage is getting expensive. Having been here last year and familiar with their high prices for everything, it doesn't surprise us. Switzerland is one of the few countries not on the Euro. Our hotel sits on the Rhine River and we can watch the boats and barges make their way back and forth to ocean ports farther
There are two Christmas Markets here in Basel and since we're here for two nights, we decide to visit just one, the main market across the river. We take tram 6 from our hotel right to it. All hotels in Basel give their customers passes that allow us to use public transit for free. That's what I'm talking about! We walk the market and notice the prices are much higher here than Germany but it is Switzerland. Most things including food is 25% higher. The hotel offers no free breakfast and charges $25 pp for breakfast. We'll find someplace else for that.
We take the tram back to the hotel and look for cafes close by for our breakfast tomorrow. Nothing. MacDonald's is a block away but they don't open until 11am. Note: a Big Mac meal is $13 here. We'll wait for tomorrow to decide on breakfast.
Back at out hotel, we prepare for tomorrow, a side trip to Lucerne and later back in Basel, the Munsterplatz Christmas Market.
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