Swiss excursion...but only just

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

WEDNESDAY, 6th September
Anne has bitten the bullet and was determined to find out the cause of her rise in blood pressure and palpitations which have not been so severe as they were in Carcasonnes but do give her cause for concern. We went to  Gaienhofen today to find U's doctor. It was not too hard to find and she was lucky to get an appointment immediately and within the hour. I drove back to the house to get her a book to read and for our passports for we had planned to go on to Stein am Rhine which was across the border in Switzerland. Of course by the time I returned she had no need of the book. She was next in line. She gave her story to the doc who asked her to return next day for a blood test after a night of fasting.
Onwards to Stein am Rhine. Past small lakeside villages between which were fields and fields of vegetables, crops, fruit trees and vines. We were amazed how much was grown here. We had thought North Holland to be something a of a food bowl but these fields between the lake and the hills were overloaded with leaf and root vegetables. They seemed to be only small holdings tended by families and sold by the side of the road.
We were moving from one farming community to another. In Felines we were in the centre of the dry clays of an immense vineyard confronted by tractors at every turn. Limmen was surrounded by the polders sown with well watered crops and vegetables and tended by those self same tractors. Now, in Moos, the tractors are even more in evidence on the roads as they haul their vegetable produce and fruit to market or hop from field to field to do whatever tractors do. The climate here though is just right. Not dry as in France and not overly wet as in Holland.
The purpose of our drive to this very pretty town was to enquire at the railway station about rail trips to the Swiss mountains and the glaciers. So we bypassed the town itself glimpsing only the cobbled streets in the distance as we crossed over the Rhine to the railway station...the Swiss rail. We had to wait until the station master finished his elevens's upon which he gave us lots of info on the two glacier express rail journeys which could be started from that station and which we will present to L on her arrival next week for consideration.
The border between the two countries was hardly worth maintaining. Because Switzerland is not an EU member it retains the right to check and search but of course it does not. There were two 'Zolls' at each checkpoint at every road in and out of Switzerland and in this little enclave it verges on the ridiculous. Borders between EU countries have long gone even if the old infra structure still remained such as between Germany and France or Germany/Austria as we were to find out later.
Singen was the next stop on this circuit because Anne had been told that there was a great wool shop in that town. We parked in the street, put our money in the machine and walked in a direction that seemed to be towards the centre. It wasn't but we found somewhere to have lunch. Just a small cafeteria  but I had a curried turkey, chips and hot veggies. It was a big meal. Anne had an equally large lunch of leg of chicken plus the above. That chicken was of Brobdingnagian proportions. After the meal the dinner lady gave us directions to the woollery and that was our next stop. Anne bought some expensive wool but was still unable to find any knitting  patterns in English...but then why should there be any. [We were to discover that Germans, although being very capable when speaking English, albeit very basic at times, do not provide the travelling English speaker with any form of English translations on street signs, in shops, on documents, on menus or on motorways except in the very obvious tourist places like the airport. Even rail stations are not geared for the traveller. French also suffers from the same lack of signage. Some menus are available in English but on the whole it is very difficult for a traveller to fully understand the where's, what's and why's of his surroundings. I will not criticise the Irish signage ever again!]
We wandered around the town for about an hour, bought a few bits and pieces for the house, a Jackie Wilson CD for me and returned to the car. Singen was an unusual town in that it did not have a central square with cobbled streets from it but was very modern and laid out in a contemporary grid pattern.
We thus returned to Moos.
Today was the day we learned of Steve Irwin's death. Australia's Diana as one commentator put it on the very extensive coverage given on BBC and CNN.
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