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December 19, 2004

So then, Switzerland and France...

...where to begin.

Well, we arrived at the airport. It's a funny place. The airport itself is in France, however has both EU (German and French) and Swiss customs. As we were heading for Switzerland we went through the Swiss ones, which is a good job really, 'cause when you get through them you realise that the airport is split into two halves by a big glass wall thing and there's no way to get across to the other side.

It appears that the airport has two entirely separate road systems going to it - one that goes to the EU and one to Switzerland.

We found our hotel pretty easily enough which was good (mainly 'cause it was bloody cold outside). Hotel was quite crappy, but had character - massive rooms and nice beds with proper feather duvets and everything! Well it made Amanda happy. We went on a food hunt and realised it was eleven in the evening or something silly, so had to settle for a random 'kebap' place, called Sam's Takeaway.

This is where a knowledge of German might have been of some use to use. Much was done with the words 'Ja' and 'Nein'. What we got was really nice though although it did disagree somewhat with my internal workings. Oh well. After kebap-age we went for an ickle wander about, but it was bloody cold and we were tired so we went back to the hotel to leave exploring for the morning.

We were rudly awakened in the morning by people mending the flat roof below us with drills and blowtourches. How rude?

Then it was off to Strasbourg on the train. Basel is an interesting place. It has two station buildings one in the north where the German DB live and one in the south, which houses the Swiss SBB peeps and the French SNCF. Now, obviously some trains from the south station go to Switzerland and others go to France. The platforms are separate, and to go to French places you have to go through customs to get to the platforms. Not rocket science really I suppose, but it still seemed quite odd and a tad annoying when you end up in 'France' only to find out that you need to get tickets from Switerland. Of course we could have got out out passports and gone back through, but there was no time (we bought tickets on the train instead).

Note: To get from Switzerland to the EU you don't require a passport and the customs hall is empty. Now... try and get back into Switerland and it's all everyone standing behind lines showing passports, well picky :-)

Strasbourg was nice as last year. The hotel was a generic Ibis one, with crappy beds. Did have a TV though!

Amanda bought a cool present for her family (I'm sure they don't read the blog so I've posted the link pre-Christmas day...). I bought some presents for people also - not as exciting I'm afraid. In the evening we went to Au Pont St-Martin for a meal. It was a really nice meal. Even though the English translation for almost everything was 'mixed grill'. I got a mixed grill that consisted souly of lamb. Good nether-the-less!

After waiting for yonks to get the bill we went bar hunting and did a pretty much absimal job of it. We settled on one crappy hotel bar looking place and had one drink. I had some Leffe Christmas Beer, 50cl of it. Which came in a mighty funny glass, looked like a huge wine glass. Then we went home and watched "La communauté de l'anneau" (erm, The Fellowship of the Ring) whilst Amanda translated.

On Friday we went to see the Eurpoean Parliament building, it was all rather empty. And security seemed rather crap. It's a big glass building thing and you can go right up to and can actually touch the wheels of bureaucracy. I did get a bit scared when some army dudes came walking towards us mind.

Then it was time to go to Colmar. So, off on the train we went. Again we were staying in an Ibis hotel, with the same crappy beds. Oh well. Colmar is a cool place. With loads of really nice buildings and stuff. I once again bought some more pressies for people. For our evening meal we went to a resturant I can't remember the name of, but it was quite busy. We managed to get the bar man thinking we were German by accident. What was a tad odd was that he kept saying things in German, and we wouldn't understand, then he'd apologise in Englsh for his bad German. Whoops. How embarrasing?! For him and us, 'cause I didn't want to tell him he'd got it wrong! The meal was nice although there was loads of it and I couldn't finnish mine :( I did however eat my first snails, which were nice, although did taste somewhat of soil!

In the morning we went to the "Musee Anime du Jouet et des Petits Trains" (Animated Toy and Miniature Train Museum) - it was rather cool. Especailly with it almost being Christmas. Then it was back to the land of the Swiss again - on a train that terminated in Milan!

I'd got it into my head that I wanted to go to four countries in a day, so we headed off to the DB station to go through customs into 'Germany' and then back into Switzerland. Yeah, I know it's not really Germany, but it's as good as far as I'm concerned.

Then we went back to the airport and checked in. The airport has got 90 Gates, a crazy number and when we were there there was only 3 flights for that evening left to fly. Once checking in and going past the point of no return we realised that almost everywhere was shut and there was bugger all to do! The place was deserted. We found one of those moving walkways and spent about 5 mins messing with that - going the wrong way and the like. Much fun - until it stopped rather suddenly. We then found a cafe that was open and had coffee and then rambled off to find our gate on the otherside of the airport (which is a bloody building site). We buy the last sandwiches from the bar at a bloody silly price each and sit on the floor waiting for the plane to arrive. It doesn't. We get an annoucement saying it's going to be late (1h10 late). Grrrr. Finally, we get back to Luton...

... and that's the end of the story!

Well done if you've read it all... I don't half ramble! Oh, piccies are up on the gallery :-)

Posted by Ed at December 19, 2004 5:54 PM | Trips |