Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Swimming in the Rhine

Well, I must confess that I am bored with Switerland, hence my absence here. Also, after being away in France for a month there has been much to do around the house, laundry, garden and social-life-wise.

There are still a couple of things to share about Basel that I wouldn't want to leave off. There are still a million photos I could show you, but it's tedious. Instead, I will give you this link. You can use Google maps to walk each of those routes and the leaflet will tell you about the men they were named for and the sights you are seeing.

One day we, the four of us, had completed yet another walk that somehow ended back at the riverside and we had a drink at a sidewalk cafe. A tidy young man, short of stature but with all sorts of bulging muscles approached us. He politely asked if we were going to be there for a while, maybe 10-15 minutes? He explained that he wished to go for a swim in the river, but needed someone to look after his things. We were about to leave, but said we could stay since we had no pressing reasons not to and he was so courteous and speaking very good English. 

Then it got a bit strange. He thanked us and then apologised that he needed to change into his swimming costume, which would require him to strip off. He said he would be quick and mentioned that it was actually legal for people to be naked within 500 meters of the Rhine. I've been unable to confirm that statement but apparently nudity in Basel generally isn't illegal. I'd check that before ripping off your clothes, mind. 

We were generally speechless by then and he was quick about it. He did his quick change behind me, so I missed it all. I was of course moderately curious but felt it was beneath my dignity to turn around and gawp. Chris burst out laughing and the young man was so quick about it he was well down the road by the time I had my camera out. I thought Jane's face said it all.

I went closer to the riverside to see where the young man was going to launch himself. We'd previously seen a couple of teenage boys drifting down the river on some sort of floats. The tide was, as I mentioned about the boats on strings, quite swift, and the idea of going for a swim seemed a bit mental. Well, perhaps in keeping with his behaviour so far. We were all worried about how we would get out once in. 

We needn't have worried. He might have done maybe 400 meters in the water (drifting more than swimming, I would say) before attaching himself to one of the boat piers and hauling himself out. The boat driver seemed acquainted with this practice and perhaps with the young man specifically. 

We were all laughing a lot. In part because of the spectacle we'd just witnessed - well most of us - but also because for some reason Chris had decided to get back down on hands and knees to test the temperature of the water. This wasn't unusual for Chris except that he'd been having trouble with his back, I forget what he did to injure it, and none of us - including Chris - were at all sure he would be able to stand back up. I couldn't decide which of these characters was more ridiculous.

Jantz and Chris both survived just fine. And we all agreed that it had been a very interesting day.

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