EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is located entirely in France. France was the country I arrived in when I landed just before 11 o’ clock local time (10 o’ clock UK time) this morning.
Shortly after I boarded a bus in to the city of Basel: the third largest city in Switzerland. This was my second country of the day.
The bus took me to Basel SBB, one of two central stations in the city. The station is jointly operated by the Swiss and French rail operators. Pictured below: trams outside Basel SBB.
From Basel SBB I took another bus to Badischer Bahnhof, the second railway station of the city, owned and operated by Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator. Pictured below: the bus parked outside Bad. Bhf.
This is technically the point at which I entered Germany, as this section of the railway line is considered to be within the German customs zone (the border being between the two stations). In reality, you’re still in Switzerland at this point; the actual border is just over the other side of the Rhine – you can see the roadsign marking the border from the train.
Switzerland is not in the EU – so for a brief period today, I left the European Union. It felt good.
Switzerland is now part of Schengen which means there are no immigration checks at its borders. However it is not part of the EU’s Customs union, so customs checks are carried out at/close to the borders.
From Badischer Bahnhof I borded one of DB’s ICE high-speed intercity trains. It got me up to Freiburg within 30 minutes of leaving Basel. This train took me in to Germany, my third country of the day.
The train I was on really was a long distance one which was to continue on to Hamburg, right up in the far North of Germany. I’d describe Basel to Hamburg as being the German equivilant of Land’s End to John O’Groats. In fact Hamburg is further from Basel than London is!
On arrival in Freiburg I took a taxi down to my accommodation: a self-catering cottage in the district of Sankt Georgen. Pictured below: Looking along Hartkirchweg Street. The nearest house is where my hosts live and my cottage is located to the rear of the main house.
After meeting Ingebord and Heikki, the owners of the ‘Anjas Ferienhaus’ holiday home and being given a guided tour of the cottage (in German, because I said to them I would try to speak German wherever possible), I settled in to my home for the next few days, before heading off to the supermarket.
Edeka is the nearest supermarket to me. Here, I topped up with supplies: fresh bread for breakfasts and lunch, ham, cheese, Apfelsaft to drink, milk, toothpaste, a toothbrush… I had to stop myself from buying too much on the basis that I was a good 10 minute walk from the cottage. My VW Golf was not parked right outside.
Talking about my VW Golf… I saw about 5 VW Golfs identical to my own around Freiburg today. I also saw an old VW Beetle, plenty of 20+ year old BMWs and 20+ year old Mercedes cars. Why do I never see so many cars of such an age in Britain on such a regular basis?
Later in the afternoon I ventured out on the bus. Nice and easy: the nearest bus stop is served by just one line: bus line 14 which goes straight in to the city centre, with a journey time of 30 minutes. In the centre I found the Stadtgarten, and as I walked over the footbridge I saw just how near the mountains and the Black Forest are from the centre of town.
As darkness started to fall I returned to St. Georgen and to my cottage. I had not eaten properly since breakfast time on Wednesday morning so was feeling pretty hungry for this stage. I had only eaten a sandwich for lunch, a croissant for breakfast in the Airport this morning; a cheese sandwich before going to bed when I arrived at Gatwick late last night, and a cheese sandwich at work on Wednesday. Pictured below: the table all set for dinner.
This evening I have been watching ‘Eurovision: Unser Lied für Stockholm’: the live TV show in which Germany chooses who will represent the country at Eurovision. As I have a German mobile number I was able to text in when the voting lines opened. Sadly the singer I voted for didn’t win.
I will now finish off the evening by watching the final 45 minutes of “Brecht’s Last Summer”, a German language film I watched a home a few weeks back but missed the end because I fell asleep (it was 2 o’ clock in the morning on a work night and I was tired).