Monday, 22 May 2017

The Flat

So, about the trip to Basel. We flew via Amsterdam. As we walked through Schiphol we both remarked it wasn't as shiny and sparkling new as we had remembered it. Guess we're all getting older. 

Bill had the trip all planned out and while we managed to get the bus from the Basel airport (which as far as I can tell is in France, not Switzerland) to the train station, we couldn't find the right tram to near the flat so we gave up and took a taxi. Given the driver's use of acceleration and braking I was thinking it was a New York experience (which I've not had) but he had an electric car, which impressed me, and it was a quick journey down a load of one-way streets.


An ordinary, nondescript block of flats.


You'll have to excuse the disarray of the flat in the photos. Most were taken on the morning we were all packing up. We'd stripped the beds to help out the girl who tended the flat and of course our focus was on getting bags packed and clothes suitable for a rainy walk to the train station. 


With all that glass, not a lot of security, but it didn't worry me.


Jane & Chris had already arrived and re-arranged the furniture. The flat was advertised as having two double bedrooms, which wasn't quite true as the second bedroom had no door on it and you had to sidle around the edges of the two twin beds. 




Still, they chose this room with the balcony out the back after putting the (Ikea) bookshelf unit in the door way with the rickety screen behind it. With their towels hung over the screen they had a fair amount of privacy, the breeze and the relative quiet of the back gardens. Good choice.



Ours was a large attractive room furnished with a chest of drawers and clothes rack (from Ikea) and a large bed with nightstands. 





The big window had shutters for privacy (no curtains anywhere in the flat) and doors into the hall and the living room. 





The other bedroom, we decided, was so small because the bathroom had been built in part of that space and we figured given the age of the building that originally there were probably shared WCs on the half landings between each floor, now storage space. The front windows of the flat looked out across the busy road (noisy at night, but not as noisy as horn-honking Italians, the Swiss are much more civilised) at more flats. The one directly across from us was pretty much the ugliest I saw on the whole trip. 






I did learn that it is not unusual for people to have a (Ikea) cabinet on their balcony, generally for storing their shoes. That suggests to me that, unlike in Britain, their rain is also very civilised, restricting itself to vertical movement.

The kitchen conveniently had a window out onto the balcony which facilitated food transport on the evenings we ate outside. 





It was furnished with the basics (from Ikea), including a dishwasher and one of those stupid Nespresso machines. I despise them (being a producer of needless waste for landfill), but when the (free from the cruise) packets of caffeinated coffee ran out I ended up using the machine as the coffee was supplied, or perhaps left by previous tenants along with various condiments and oils. I made a full strength coffee in a large mug, but pushed the button for the little ones (I used the little cups to tuck away my British money in my underwear drawer and on my nightstand to put my rings and earrings in each night). Then I poured out half the coffee, diluted it about 5-1 with hot water from the kettle, adding sweeteners and skimmed milk. If they served it at a coffee place it would be called a Skinny Wimp or perhaps Coffee a la Hot Chocolate. Did I mention these idiotic machines make the most horrific noise?

Jane & Chris had just completed a two week river cruise on the Rhine that ended in Basel, hence the obvious choice for where to meet up. It being one of those hugely expensive, luxurious all-inclusive trips and they being (in some ways) of a tightwad leaning much like myself, they discovered that just like in the old days with soap, shampoos, etc in hotel rooms, the company generously restocked the mini-bar in their room with no complaints whatsoever. So we had several litres of white and red wine in half-bottles, a good supply of Gordon's gin and Baileys liqueur and a small selection of whiskey and rum. With all that to carry, it's no surprise that Chris's back acted up during the holiday. Shame I didn't get a photo of the stash. We did our share of getting through it, Bill poured red wine on a heated up beef and pasta and I invented a dessert that involved chopped up fruit drowned in Baileys; and we had aperitifs and wine with dinner. After all, we had to spare Chris's back on their return to Australia.






The living room had some weird and less than wonderful (for bad backs and short people) furniture in bright colours, plus the latest (I guess) in TV screens. Chris had never seen a curved one. They had moved the round table and four chairs from the kitchen to one end of the living room and that seemed a very sensible arrangement.




Jane figured the flat was furnished by a young man who didn't cook much and had different priorities to ours and I had to agree (his name is Phillipe). They were most excited to show us the pièce de résistance: the lavatory. I just looked it up and sure enough in North America the lavatory refers to the bathroom sink; Brits use this word to mean the toilet. I'm talking about the sink. And I've finally given in and added a label I've long considered: Loos I've Loved - watch this space!




It was a rather amazing contraption as the base had a light and a motion detector, providing a dim night light for nocturnal visitors, such as myself and Chris. It's just that with the vase shape and the marble material it looked more to me like a sacrificial basin to some gods of fire.  We all agreed that Phillipe really outdid him self in this selection and clearly he was proud of it as well as it features large in his online adverts. It would be a deal-maker for you, wouldn't it?





For all its quirks, it was a pretty good flat: everything worked, great shower, and excellent location near shops (including Aldis and Coop) and walking distance to the train station. Bill chose very well, I'd say.

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