Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands

I met up with family in Edinburgh and we are now back in Basel. I adored Edinburgh. It is such a beautiful city full of great history. We’ll get back to Edinburgh later, though, because we are going to start with our day trip through the Scottish Highlands to Loch Ness.

Now, if you know anything about the geography of Scotland, you would know that a day trip to Loch Ness from Ediburgh is quite literally a day trip. Our tour left at 8 am and didn’t get back until after 8. It was a long day.

We left early morning on Sunday morning to meet with our tour group, Rabbies, and load up into our bus.

We were quite proud of the fact that we were out on time and made it to the meeting place before 8. It didn’t mean that we weren’t the last people on the bus, but we did make it on time. From there, we left Edinburgh and took off on our very long day trip.

Now, there were two things that made the trip pleasant. The first was that we had many stops and breaks along the way. Many were just pit stops or photo ops, but we had at least one longer stop for food. More importantly, our tour guide, James, was very entertaining. Our drive was sprinkled with a lot of history and culture about Scotland and the Highlands. Among other things, I learned that there was a lot more historical accuracy to the show Reign than I expected (although absolutely zero is a low bar). Also, we learned that most of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed at Castle Doune (as well as Outlander and the unaired pilot of Game of Thrones).

We didn’t stop at the castle, though. Maybe another time. We did stop in this small town, Callandar, where we stopped to some delicious meat pies.

We crossed over to the Highlands almost immediately after leaving the town and stopped shortly after at Loch Lubnaig, our first loch of the day.

We made a few more stops on our way through the Highlands to take in the scenery. It was beautiful, as was the lighting throughout the day.

The best photo spots, however, were our stops through Glencoe. Glencoe was very cold and windy, but absolutely beautiful.

From Glencoe, it was another hour and a half of driving before we got to Fort Augustus near Loch Ness. The drive was long, but filled with interesting stories and snippets of Scottish music, so it wasn’t too bad. We did eventually make it to Fort Augustus and had about an hour to spend there. We opted against the Loch Ness boat tour (no Nessie hunting) and instead spend almost all of the time we spent shopping at a small gift shop (in fairness, they had an exhibit about the canal) and eating. It wasn’t until about ten to 3 (our meeting time) that we thought that maybe it would be good to take pictures of Loch Ness. On the upside, we weren’t the last group back to the bus.

Also, when walking to Loch Ness, Mia slipped and almost fell into the canal. She didn’t, so we not only were unable to see Nessie, but we missed a very prime opportunity for a Kelpie spotting.

In any case, Fort Augustus was a cute town. We had fun exploring (and eating) during our short stay.

We made a few stops on the way back. The best was to watch the sunset by a WWI memorial.

There were a few more stops along the way, including a pit stop and an extended coffee break at a very cute down about an hour outside of Edinburgh. A lot of the ride was in the dark, which made for a good nap.

We made it back to Edinburgh around 8. It was a long day, made even longer by the fact that we followed it up with dinner and a ghost tour. It was a fun day though and I’m glad we had a chance to do a very short tour of the Highlands.

Luzern and Gansabhauet

I have a 6 am flight tomorrow morning (because why not?), but I don’t want this post to go unwritten, so I will make this post relatively short.

Last Sunday was a bit of a double feature. There was an historic annual event in Sursee that I wanted to attend (more on that soon) and because it’s so close, I visited Luzern in the morning. It was a tiring day, which was also surprisingly warm despite the fact that I actually dressed appropriately for the weather we’d been having for the past few weeks.

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I got to Luzern around 11, so I really only had a few hours to walk around the city before I went over to Sursee. I started at the Kapelbrucke (Chapel Bridge), which is the covered bridge that you see in most photos of the city. From there, I walked around the Old Town and made my way up to the Musegg Wall. The views from the wall are supposed to be nice and for that reason and the fact that it was a beautiful day, I was surprised that there were very few people around the wall. Turns out that at least the part of the wall that I was at was not open to visitors. At the very least, that hike up the hill would have burned off a small sliver of the raclette from the night before.

From there, I made may down and crossed the Spreuer Bridge (another covered bridge in town.

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By this time, I had somehow taken up just about half of the time that I had in Luzern so I had to make some decisions about how I wanted to spend the rest of my time there. I found an Vietnamese restaurant that Yelp told me was open and even though it was significantly warmer than I expected, I have really been craving pho. The restaurant was also conveniently near the train station, so I could hop on the train to Sursee right after. So, I set up a quick itinerary that would end near the restaurant.

I started by walking through Old Town and made my way to the Lion Monument. I saw the monument last year when I was in Luzern for some meetings, but I really like it. I sat in the park, where for a brief moment I took in my peaceful surroundings. It was a very brief moment because a tour group rushed in and there was chaos everywhere. I left.

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From the monument, I walked along Lake Luzern towards the restaurant. Unfortunately and despite what Yelp told me, the restaurant was closed. I was still craving soup, so I ended up going to a nearby Japanese restaurant and had soup. The wait took forever, though, so I had just enough time to eat and get to my train.

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The trip to Luzern was short and the city was as lovely as it always is, but to be honest, it was just the opening act of the day. You see, I was on my way to Sursee to see Gansabhauet, an annual tradition in the town. Every year on Martinmas (St Martin’s Day), they hang a dead goose from a platform in the middle of the town and young men and women try to knock it down while blindfolded and slighted disoriented. I guess it’s like a Swiss version of a piñata?

When we arrived into Sursee, the town was incredibly quiet. After walking into the city center, I realized that pretty much everyone was waiting for the event to start. I should have known that there was a lot of food at the event. The wurst smelled good, but I really only had space for a cookie.

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The event started at about 3:15 and the crowd was packed as a procession walked through the town carrying the goose. I have to be honest, though, I felt a little bad for the guy when I saw him (or her?).

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They hung the goose up on the platform and we waited for the contestants to get prepared. Each individual is blindfolded, wears a mask, and is spun around a little to disorient them. This means that each contestant spends a few minutes getting re-oriented to try to figure out the best angle to knock the goose down.

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Typically, it takes quite a few people to take their shot at the goose before the goose is knocked down. This means that there are other games that children can participate in in the meantime. This year, it only took three tries. The first person didn’t get much on the goose. The second person almost knocked the goose down and the third person got the goose down pretty easily. Of course, I didn’t realize that knocking the goose down meant decapitating the goose (poor goose), but it was absolutely captivating and I kind of wish there were a few more rounds.

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There’s more to the festival after the goose, including a lantern parade and more food. Given that the competition didn’t take too long, it would have been a few hours wait until the parade, so I headed home and made myself some Kfood for dinner.

The event was admittedly a little surreal and I don’t think I would have ever expected to watch an event like this, but I’m certainly glad that I did.

And with that, I go prepare for my painfully early flight.

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Heart of a Lyon – Day Two

It’s been a while. I meant to continue the stories of Lyon, but Sunday I was tired from Lucerne / the Gansabhauet, Tuesday was busy and I was just a little sad on Monday about the passing of Stan Lee. There’s a lot that’s been already said about Stan the Man, so I’ll just say that I am pretty sure no other writer/creator has had or probably will have as big of an influence on who I am as he did. I even quoted him (or Ben Parker, I guess) in my law school applications.

Also, there are devastating fires destroying several parts of California. It’s awful. For those back home, please stay safe. And if you can, there are a number of organizations accepting donations for fire relief.

And with that, let’s go back to Lyon.

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It’s actually quite amazing how much I was able to get done in the hours that I had in Lyon on Sunday. I think the timing for everything worked out really well, but I had a pretty busy and exhausting day before I boarded the 5pm train home to Basel.

After hotel breakfast and checkout, I hopped on the bus to Croix-Rouge, where my walking tour of the city was scheduled to start. The tour typically meets at the statue of Joseph-Marie Jacquard (whose technology for weaving was later an inspiration for the computer). There was a fair going on at the time, so we met nearby.

On the tour, we got a history of the city as we walked down the hill, took as good of views as we could get in the fog, and made our way to town hall.

We started the tour going through the market of Croix-Rouge, which was enormous and smelled so good. There were even some stands selling interesting animal parts, including brains.

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We tried to get some good views from the top of the hill, but didn’t get much due to the fog. We did pass some interesting street art, though.

We walked through some of the city’s traboules on our way down the hill. I mentioned the traboules in my previous post. The city of Lyon is littered with these historic passageways and stairwells that would help the silk workers move their goods around the city. Many of them aren’t easy to find. I know this because while I felt like we were weaving in and out of them during the tour, I struggled to find one when I was on my own.

We did two that were pretty cool during the tour. One was not as well-maintained, but was a historic gathering place for a big workers’ rights movement (if I remember, correctly). The other acts as a sort of incubator to help local artisans get their business started.

As we made our way down the hill, we also saw some Roman ruins (and got some history of the Roman occupation of the city), passed a church scarred by the French Revolution, the opera house, and town hall.

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We ended the tour along the Saone River, where the weekly book market was underway. As soon as the tour was over and despite the fact that I had a very tight itinerary in mind if I wanted to grab a good lunch and see more of the city, I got sucked into that book market almost immediately. I may or may not have bought stuff.

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I tried and failed again to get into some of the hyped bouchons from the list I had put together, before walking through a different market on the other side of the river and failing to find more traboules.

I found myself back in Vieux Lyon, where I did manage to find one traboule while trying to find the funiculars from the day before.

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My plan had actually been to grab kabobs to save time, but I ended up sitting down at a bouchon. I was concerned at first that it would take too long like the one I ate at the night before, but I then heard the most beautiful words anyone in a hurry could ever hear. The waiter apologized to me and said that there was a reservation for my table and wanted to know if I’d be able to eat and leave within the hour. Amazing. Also, I tried Lyonnaise salad which was pretty incredible. Now energized with food and a sitting break I forgot I needed after walking all morning, I was ready to take on the second part of the day.

I caught the funicular up to Fourviere. The Notre Dame basilica sits on the top of the hill and oversees a lot of the city. It’s also joined by a tower that resembles the Eiffel Tower. I started with the inside of the basilica, which was very beautiful. I had actually considered skipping the basilica all together and the inside kind of validated the whole trip up there.

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The views of the city from outside were just as spectacular as the inside of the basilica.

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I made my way back down the hill and took the bus to the Parc de la Tete d’Or, which is the big park of the city. It was the other big part of the city I was hoping to see before I left. It was also conveniently located near my hotel, which I had to go back to to pick up my backpack.

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The park is enormous, as in, there is a botanical garden with historic green houses, a small lake, and an entire zoo in the middle of it big. I got into the park and had a set itinerary, which would involve me hitting the botanic gardens and parts of the zoo before heading back towards the hotel. I immediately got disoriented and went the wrong way. After some course correction, I found the zoo and saw a zebra in Lyon. Also, no, did not see lions.

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I also visited the botanic gardens, which I didn’t last too long in because it was stuffy and kind of crowded, and I realized that I needed to get back to the hotel to the hotel. It was pretty, though.

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And after walking through the park and getting my stuff at the hotel, I made it to the train station with a little time to spare (not that it mattered, because the train was delayed).

The weekend, overall, was a lot of fun. There were some moments over the weekend where things could have probably gone south, but it was ultimately a fun and somewhat chaotic weekend in all the best ways.

And there is only one way that I can end this post.

Excelsior!

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Heart of a Lyon – Day One

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Hello. I’m taking a break from the messe food for a post on Lyon. Lyon is the culinary capital of France and its food scene includes markets, foods with organ meats, Michelin starred restaurants, and traditional bouchons. It’s for this reason, that I was incredibly excited about the weekend trip. Of course, there were so many options and not enough time.

I spent quite some time trying to figure out how to split up the post about Lyon. I started trying to do it as one post and it didn’t work out as well as I thought it would. I considered doing a food versus sightseeing breakdown like I did for Amsterdam, but it didn’t quite work. So, we’re just going to take it one day at a time.

After an early morning train ride, I rolled into Lyon at 11 and was immediately overwhelmed by the fact that the city was significantly larger than I expected. Never mind that everything I read about the city told me that it was the third largest city in France. I was expecting a tiny and cute French town. It didn’t help that I had a 12 pm reservation for a restaurant called Bijouterie (which means jewelry in French). I started going towards the first thing I saw on Google Maps with that name until I realized that I was just going to a random jewelry store. This happened moments before I boarded a the metro going in the absolute opposite direction, making it very convenient that I bought the 48 hour public transportation pass and hadn’t just wasted a ticket.

All of those hi-jinks, as well as a brief interlude where I thought I might have a moment to drop off my bags at the hotel and get to the restaurant before noon, managed to take up a half hour. This meant that my immediate reaction was to panic and just take a taxi over to the restaurant. Of course, this got me there with an awkward 15 minutes before the restaurant opened. It worked okay because it gave me a chance to explore the neighborhood and get my first sight of the Saone River. I even caught one of Lyon’s more famous frescoes.

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Bijouterie doesn’t do French food per se, but a lot of people seemed to rave about this restaurant and I was able to get a lunch reservation, so I decided to go for it. For lunch, they do a prix fixe menu of pan-Asian dim sum. You choose three “jewels” for the set lunch price and can add dessert for not much more.

The dishes come out in a very quick procession and are started with a soup (that I drank like I would miso soup and not with my spoon like everyone else because I’m absolutely not civilized). I chose the siu mai, the fish, and the chicken wings and got the spicy variation of the rice. They were all delicious, but I think I’d have to say that the chicken wings were my favorite. The dessert was a fascinating combination of chestnut flavors with some ice cream. So good. Despite all the small plates, I was quite full after the meal.

Lunch was followed by a trip to the the town square, where I saw town hall and a pretty cool Bartholdi statue that where the horses look like they have smoke coming out of their noses (I learned during my tour the next day that the statue was actually intended for a different city).

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This was followed up with the Nike store and some post-lunch downtime at the hotel. I considered walking around the big park, especially since it was across the street from the hotel, but as mentioned previously, was trying to spare the pre-race mileage so as not to injure myself. A lot of good that did.

I had just enough time pre-race for a trip out to the Halles des Lyon – Paul Bocuse (named for the famous chef who would shop at the market). Have I mentioned that I have a weakness for markets? There was food everywhere and it looked delicious. I didn’t try much so as to not get sick during the aforementioned race, but did grab some food to bring back to Basel with me and had my first taste of Lyon’s signature pink pralines. I bought a couple of bags of pralines to bring home with me, but also tried one of the tarts, which was incredible.

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I wrote enough about the failed race, so we’ll pick up from where that ended. After taking the funicular back down to Vieux Lyon, I finally did get to get my taste of the old part of Lyon. It was pretty deep into the evening, so the next challenge would be trying to find dinner.

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I tried and failed to use the “there’s only one of me” excuse to sneak into some of the more famous Bouchons of Vieux Lyon, so then played a very interesting game of trying to find one to eat at. I tried to use a very scientific process of balancing the window stickers with how touristy the menu looked. I probably could have used Yelp or TripAdvisor like a normal millennial, but that’s no fun.

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I did eventually find one that I was drawn to because of the very eclectic interior. It’s very possible that they didn’t actually have for me because they seated me at this tiny table that looked like an old fashioned desk and was piled with stuff. The meal took a while, but it was all delicious. I never knew you could have foie gras in salad, but now I do. We also topped off the dinner with a pastry with more of Lyon’s pralines.

After dinner, I walked around Vieux Lyon a little more. However, between the early train, attempted race, and the heavy food, I was starting to get tired. I made a sad attempt at trying to at least see some of Lyon’s traboules from along the river before understanding that they are actually just passageways. Oh well.

I walked along the Saone until I hit the court of appeals, where I crossed a bridge over the Saone. I made it to the Place des Jacobins before trying to find the bus back to the hotel.

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Honestly, there was a lot about the day that was a hot mess, but it ended up being a fun hot mess at the end of the day.

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Race Failing in Lyon

I am on my train back to Basel right now (although we are still at the train station ten minutes later). I have a long train ride that is now ever so much longer due to aforementioned delay, which means it’s a good time for a blog post.

I tried to do a race this weekend and failed horribly. It started one morning as I was getting ready this past week when I realized that I needed to get a few races on my calendar. I found some website that listed upcoming races in Europe and, lo and behold, there was one this weekend in Lyon. It must have been sign, right? The entrance fee wasn’t that high, so I signed up and packed my running gear. The race was a night race, so I also had to pack the head lamp that I have only used once before for the SF Treasure Hunt.

I got to Lyon and very quickly realized that I forgot a very key component of my running ensemble. Strangely, my time here in Lyon was one of the rare times I’ve been in a big European city and have had trouble finding an H&M, which is where I probably could have gotten what I needed for cheapish. I could have taken that as a sign that maybe I should just eat the 15 euro I spent to register for the race and spend a relaxing day in Lyon. Instead, I found a Nike store where I found what I needed and was also informed very matter of factly that the Warriors are too good because they are a stacked team. I mean, it’s hard to disagree with that, but part of my Bay Area blood compelled me to try to defend the team with my limited basketball knowledge.

I checked into my hotel and spent the next few hours hanging out in the hotel. I needed the break in part because the 730 am train was starting to hit me and because I didn’t want to add too much mileage right before an 8k. Around 330, I got all my stuff together and left with the intention of doing both the big covered market and some of Vieux Lyon before the race.

Several bus stops later, I realized I forgot both my head lamp and my registration ticket, so I ended up doing the market and turning going back to the hotel to get my stuff. As I was approaching Vieux Lyon on the Metro, I saw more people dressed in running gear, which I took as a sign that I was going in the right direction. The funicular ride up the the starting line at the Roman theater was absolutely jam packed with more runners.

The pre-race expo area was packed, but I got my bib and the free gift (a running buff that was very much appreciated in the cold) with no problems. I spent the rest of the time pre-race hanging out in the expo, where for the first time I waited for a race to start among Roman ruins. You can’t get that in the US, for sure.

I also looked at the course map for my 8k and realized that the course was significantly more hilly than I expected.

As the race start came closer, I realized that I should go wait in the corral because I would otherwise not understand the announcement that would remind me to queue up.

It was crowded and, despite my attempts to keep towards the back where there would hopefully be other slow runners, people kept on joining the corral. I was getting hungry around this time, so I tried to distract myself from hanger by taking goofy selfies in my running gear.

Eventually and after listening to way too much Coldplay, the race took off. We spent the first half mile running straight down hill through some of the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon before going right back up hill. It was awful and painful even though I walked the steep uphill incline with my fellow back of packers.

At some point, the race circles back near the starting line and, after getting to the top of a long staircase, followed who I thought was the man in a blue jacket that I was using to pace. He ran through some of the spectators crowd. I thought this was a strange course decision, but saw people jogging behind me, so I continued through the crowd until I realized I was following some man who was running to the expo for one of the longer distances races.

At this point, I realized two things. First, I had gone off-course so much at this point that I was pretty sure I disqualified myself from the race. Second, even if I hadn’t, I kind of just wanted to go eat dinner. Nevertheless, given that this was a night race, I felt like I should notify the race organizers so there was no room for thinking I had injured myself in some back alley.

At the expo, I confirmed that I had definitely disqualified myself from the 8k. They offered to let me do either the 14k or 26k, but I politely declined. A mile of the 8k wrecked me, so I wasn’t ready to add 6 km and certainly was not ready for a 26k.

Out of curiosity, I made my way to the finish line, which finished in the big Roman theater. It would have been cool and pretty unique to do that, but whatever. Crazily, some of the people from the earlier corrals were already finishing the race.

I went back down the funicular to Vieux Lyon. After failing to get into some of the bouchons, I recognized from my pre-Lyon research, I chose one of the many in Vieux Lyon and ate dinner with my hydration belt still on.

There are lessons to be learned from this experience:

First, I really need to do hill training. I didn’t make it through that much of the race, but that little I did make it through wrecked me. I guess it’s probably about time I stop actively avoiding hills.

Second, sightseeing during a racecation works well, but it doesn’t work the other way around. I now have four successful racecations under my belt where I racked up far too much pre-race mileage but still had a wonderful time. Tacking this race on last minute to a weekend I had planned to sightsee and eat meant I had to postpone most of my sightseeing to the second day of the trip. I still got a lot done, but it would have been a lot more relaxing if I didn’t have to re-plan the trip around a race. It’s so much easier when the sightseeing plays second to the race.

Third, maybe I should listen to the key signs that the race wasn’t meant to be. I had such an easy out when I realized I left some of my running clothes behind. I shouldn’t have been stubborn and just accepted it.

Fourth, running while traveling is fun but maybe I shouldn’t do night races in cities I have never been to before? I probably wouldn’t have made the mistake I did if I knew the city a little better. (By the way, I qualify this in part to justify the fact that I want to register for a Basel night race I’ve seen a few ads for).

So, there you go. I tried and failed to do a race this weekend. I do want to do more racecations while I’m out here, but I just need to plan them a little better. It all worked out well in the end though. At least, I got more use out of that medical certificate I had to get for the Disneyland Paris race.

The Swiss Life – What I Miss at Four Months

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It’s Friday and I am putting my stuff together for my early morning train to Lyon tomorrow. Over the weekend, I will be eating my way around town and will also hit my four month milestone. Now, I’ve spent the last three months reflecting on what each month here has been like, but I think it’d be fun to do a list of ten things (aside from the the obvious friends and family etc) that I miss from home. The list is kind of silly, so spare me the concert of the tiny violins.
In no particular order
1. Carnitas

I could say that I miss Mexican food in general and it wouldn’t be a lie. I am a Californian and good Mexican food is a staple. I miss having a cheap Mission-style burrito and I could really do with some La Vics orange sauce every now and then. The truth is, however, that I’ve found the stuff to cook simple dishes at home and can even make guacamole. And while it’s certainly not cheap, I have located at least one pretty decent restaurant in town (more Tex-Mex than Cali-Mex). Kabobs have more or less also filled the burrito void in my life.

What I cannot replicate here in Switzerland, however, are carnitas. I miss carnitas. If you can tell me where I can find it here in Basel, I will be your friend for life.
2. Target

There’s always something comforting about the fact that if you know your way around one Target, you know your way around pretty much every other one. There’s something convenient about having everything you need there in one place. There are a few stores here that come pretty close to it and I’ve been growing pretty attached to the Migros XXL in Claraplatz (they close late for Swiss standards, too). Still, it’s not quite the same.

An honorary mention here is Costco. There are some things that you just need to bulk buy.
3. Sundays

On a related note, I miss stores that are open on Sundays. Granted, there are, thankfully, stores around the train station that are open on Sundays, but I never realized how convenient it is to have stores open on Sundays until you don’t get them.
4. Boba

I miss boba and I miss having many boba options. There are at least five boba shops within a two mile radius of me back home, which made late night boba runs or mid-errand boba breaks so easy. The good news is that I found out via one of the three Basel ex-pat communities I’m in that they just started selling boba at one of the restaurants in town. Haven’t been yet, but I will. Hopefully, it’s good. The boba I had in Amsterdam was just okay.
5. Hulu

We don’t have cable at home, so I actually watch most of my TV shows on Hulu and most of the good shows that have dropped off of Netflix are also there. I have my fair share of media on Netflix, but I’m also terribly behind on a lot of the fall shows because Hulu is only available in the US. The same applies to the HBO app. I know I can watch the recaps on YouTube, but I miss our Sunday John Oliver nights.
6. Takis

They’re messy and give you disgusting red-stained hands, but they’re so good.
7. Korean Food

As with Mexican food, I’ve found some workarounds for this one that has made this a little better. It helps that I brought a giant container of gojuchang with me here and that I’ve found a store that sells pre-made kimchi. I can cook some of the dishes that I need to satisfy these cravings or at least wait until Chris is here to make anything remotely complicated for me. Nevertheless, there are still are some dishes missing from my life and no Korean restaurants in Basel to fill that void. Given the recent drop in temperature, I’ve been especially missing the comfort of a bowl of sulungtang these days.
8. Amazon

I guess this can be the year that I break myself of my awful Amazon addiction. Shopping on Amazon is a little harder here in Switzerland. There are workarounds (mine being to stockpile things from Amazon for when Chris comes here), but I am missing the convenience of being able to order almost anything and get it in a day or two (or even the same day). I will say, however, that there is something liberating about not having a constant pile of open Amazon boxes lying around the house.
9. “Bad” Cheese

I know, cry me a river. Not only am I living in a country known for its cheeses, but I am also living a stone’s throw from several other countries known for their cheeses. Look, do not get me wrong. I love the cheese situation over here, but sometimes you just need a bag of cheap shredded cheddar to throw into your food. The good thing about living in a country known for its cheeses is that there are some solutions. There are a few cheeses I’ve had identified that have somewhat comparable flavor profile. In a spark of creativity, we even got a bag of fondue cheese for our chili one night.
10. Halloween

Halloween is more of an adopted holiday here and is (probably rightfully) more geared towards kids. It’s not really like we do much for the holiday and the prevalance of incredible chocolate here means that I’m not really short on candy, but it was sad not to dress up in the office or carve pumpkins this year.

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I still dressed up, though, because it’s Halloween. At some point I searched for indoor rock climbing gyms here in Basel to get a spidey picture of me climbing. I talked myself out of that idea, though because 1) even at my best, I could not boulder to save my life and 2) I have no one to belay me. I’m also pretty sure I don’t remember any of the knots…

In all seriousness, though, as much as I whine and as quiet as things got after Chris left, things continue to be good in these parts. The cold is officially gone and there are some pretty cool weekends currently in the works.

The most fitting way to end this post is with a Halloween picture of the stinkiest individual that I miss:

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Also, if you’re in the US and haven’t done so already, go vote. Seriously.

Herbstmesse in Basel

It’s fall, so the days have gotten shorter, the skies have gotten darker, the weather has gotten colder, and the Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair) has hit Basel. The fair started on Saturday and will be in town for the next three weeks. The fair spans different parts of the city. Each section of the fair has its own flavor and attractions. There is the big ferris wheel in Münsterplatz, the drop ride in Messeplatz, the markets of Petersplatz, and so on. With the bright lights of the rides all over the city, it almost makes the sky line look like a low key Las Vegas. Okay, maybe very low key.

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I ended up spending the weekend at home, despite the fact that my initial plan was to go to Montreux for the weekend. I ended up canceling that plan because of the rain and because I’ve realized that I’ve been going kind of non-stop for a while and needed a break (something I realized while I was in the online queue to get Hamilton tickets in SF). Also, I had a cold. Maybe that was the main reason. In any case, between the cold, the self-imposed break, and the rain, I spent most of the weekend indoors.

I did drag myself out on Saturday to get groceries and, despite the aforementioned rain and cold, took a small detour to explore some of the fair. I had some sausages and also realized it’s officially mulled wine season(!!).

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Saturday was otherwise low key. Sunday was not as rainy and I was feeling better, so I dragged myself out for a long walk and to explore more of the Herbstmesse.

I grabbed dinner the Barfüsserplatz location, where I had more sausage, mulled wine, and chocolate. This spot is was a little more children’s ride oriented, but it was fun watching the crazy ski lift ride.

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From there, I climbed up to Münsterplatz with the intention of going on the big ferris wheel. There were many more rides up there, a lot of games and a whole lot of food. I ended up talking myself out of doing the ferris wheel, mostly because that seemed like a sad thing to do by myself.

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I also dragged myself out to Peterplatz tonight in an effort to not sit at home all night. I also heard that’s where the markets are. This has probably been my favorite part of Herbstmesse so far. It’s a maze of food stalls and shops. There’s even a ceramics market there, where I did some “window” shopping.

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I had a lot of fun exploring Peterplatz. I’ll probably end up back there because I was too full from fries to try the pastel de nata (!) that they had there. I also want to go back to the ceramics market.

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The fair will be here for a few more weeks and there is more of it to see, so the Herbstmesse explorations aren’t over. I may even talk myself into riding one of the rides.

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