For the longest of stretch of time, I’ve wanted to have 3 meals in 3 countries in a single day. There’s an air of romance about being able to slip between nations in search of delicious food, and the ability to pop between Switzerland, France and Germany was simply too hard to resist whilst exploring Basel.
If I’m being super honest, it was also ridiculously easy. The joy of EU nations having visa waiver agreements meant that all I had to do was look up which modes of transport I’d need to use to hop across the border. Forget the Bonnie and Clyde shenanigans for once…
Breakfast in Switzerland (complete with tiny flag)
Rolling out of my comfy Steinenschanze hotel bed in the Swiss city of Basel, I wandered down to the garden level for a sunshine filled breakfast. Having had a sweet breakfast the day before (flaky croissants, passionfruit jam and fresh cherries) I took my time selecting a savoury spread to start my day of international traipsing.
My appetite well and truly sated, I took advantage of the late check out to get some planning in.
Lunch in Germany
Having worked out my plan for the day, I left my luggage in with the lovely hotel team, got a little advice from them about buying the correct ticket (make sure you read everything properly) and trundled to the centre to find my noble steed – the number 8 tram which crosses international borders without so much as a thought.
With not much more thought than following my nose to adventure, after about 20 minutes I hopped off at a random shopping mall on the German side of the border. Prices changed into Euros, but there didn’t seem to be significantly more variation than that.
Obviously I rang my amused husband with a cheery ‘Guten Tag’ to let him that we were in the same country once more (he was on a boy’s weekend in Munich – his mates all complaining that I would have been a much better tour guide much to my amusement) before wandering off to have a look around the neighbourhood. Following the map until I reached the Rhine once more, I realised with a start that I had managed to stumble upon the elegant arches of the Three Countries Bridge (also called the Dreiländerbrücke / Passerelle des Trois Pays depending on which bank you’re on.) Suffering a little in the summer heat, I stopped at the nearest restaurant I could see, which happened to be in the shadow of the bridge so I ordered a refreshing salad and glass of (ironically) Italian prosecco to celebrate a little.
Best part of the whole meal? The view I had of THIS MAN PUSHING HIS GROCERIES ACROSS INTERNATIONAL BORDERS from Germany to France. It proper tickled me. My lovely tour guide the previous day has told me how people often do their grocery shop over the German side, but I’d thought most locals would take their car or the tram – but I guess sometimes it’s just better to simplify your life.
Having had my fill of shopping at the mall (I purchased an Australian brand T-Shirt if you’re interested, but probably not), I joined all of the locals and hopped back on the tram into Basel city centre. It would be so easy to have carried on, or gone to visit the Vitra campus (full of architecturally designed buildings) but I fancied making a couple more stops in Basel before I made my way to France. (How ridiculous does that last section of the sentence even sound?) I ran a couple of errands (read: bought chocolate for the aforementioned husband) in the city, took a few more snaps against the blue skies then wandered back towards my hotel.
Dinner in France
Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I just hopped on the number 3 tram (making sure that I was on the one with the extended route that stops in France) and let it take me to my next destination – the town of St Louis in the Alsace. Close to the Basel airport (which is also called EuroAirport as it’s actually in France) the town was alive with fairgoers as I made my way to my last hotel for this special city break.
Checking into the four-star La Villa K, I dropped my bag off again, making a dinner reservation in the much-lauded restaurant La Cave before sneaking out to explore the most interesting art gallery I’ve been to in a while. Once I’d had my fill of culture and had called the Mr with a hearty “bon soir!”, I was seated at a primly starched table in the hotel courtyard. It began with a glorious dish of pate, a slow-cooked ham hock (that I didn’t manage to finish) and rounded out with a glorious warm cherry compote enrobing a simple scoop of ice cream. Bliss.
All in all, it was a decidedly delicious day hopping from country to country, enjoying a meal in Switzerland, Germany and then France. And all on one 24-hour tram ticket! My 3 meals in 3 countries goal was achieved with very little effort and was a definite highlight of my city break.
What experiences do you have at the top of your travel bucket list?
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