The worst thing which happened yesterday is that nothing really went wrong. I'd been desperate for something to break down just so I could wield the pun "Basel Faulty" but alas, no dice. So it's relegated just to a meta-mention in this paragraph. Boo.
To be honest, when I booked these flights the only exciting thing was that I would be visiting a new country. But as with "oh, Innsbruck has amazing views" I also learnt a few days later that Basel is at the tri-point of Switzerland, France and Germany. Obviously visiting 5 countries in a weekend was enormously tempting, so my plan for Sunday was to nip into Germany for a beer before going to the airport, which is in France. And Switzerland. Simultaneously. More of that later.
When I first woke up the weather was nice, but by the time I finished blogging it was pissing down. At reception I paid my enormous bill and asked the receptionist how to get to Germany. "Well, where do you want to go?" "I don't really care. Just, y'know, since I'm so close..." She seemed largely ignorant of how I might achieve this. Thankfully I had only really wanted some bonus advice, having already done research myself. Originally I was going to visit Loerrach, and a brewery, but the service to there is only hourly and my free ticket isn't valid to there, so I had hastily re-planned and decided to get tram number 8 to Weil am Rhein.
Leaving my bag at the hotel, I went to the tram stop and missed an 8 by seconds that wasn't even going as far as Weil am Rhein. Oh well. It was only 11am, I had a few hours and thought, hang on, maybe I should actually have a look round Basel too? The rain had stopped so I walked towards town and the river. At least, I thought I was doing that.
FIrst up, some statues or other. Then some roadworks. Numerous places to buy diet cola, none of which were open. It's grey and bleak and cold and miserable and very enjoyable. At the next tram stop it says there's an 8 to WaR in 11 minutes. Can't be bothered waiting that long, so on I go and, oh, hello, here's the pedestrianised city centre. Nice.
Everything is shut. There's barely anyone around. I'm still thirsty. I veer away from the tram lines and weave through numerous streets and some of it looks like it might be pretty, on a sunnier day. Like this thing at Marktplatz.
I try to find the river, but am briefly intrigued by some mystery stairs.
But, at the top of that photo, the stairs continue for as far again and I think: sod this. Oh, and also, I'm not exactly going to find the river by heading upwards, am I? So I retreat and wander through other streets full of closed shops and barking dogs and end up back at another bit of Marktplatz and, oh! There's an 8 to Weil am Rhein pulling in right now. Let's do that.
It goes over the river, which looks nice enough, and then through some newer part of town with more closed shops. In fact everything is shut except for kebab houses so far. Within a couple of minutes all the touristy stuff has gone and it's just drab boring streets of drab boring buildings. I'm plotting progress on a map, largely to see if I can figure out how long it'll take, and then I spot something interesting. Just after the Swiss/German border is a bridge over the Rhein... into France! Fantastic.
The first border crossing of the day, by tram, is hyper-bleak. Not only is the weather relentlessly grey, the Swiss side is nothing but huge factories and industrial horror. On the right is a hotel and on the left a disgusting looking shopping mall. I fail to get off and we turn right; at the next stop I detram and go back. There's still nowhere open except kebab houses. I just want a little shop to buy a diet coke, damn it. Oh, and I need euros now I guess.
Back at the roundabout there are three flags. There's a small park celebrating the three-country-ness of the whole area. But bloody hell, everything's so grim. Feels weird to be at a roundabout in one country and able to see two national borders though.
Right then. Off to France I go. The bridge is cold and windy and it's spitting with rain. The views are bleak in every direction. It's fantastic. For the second time in three days I'm stood straddling two countries over the Rhein. Have it.
Carrying on into la belle France, I'm delighted that the first thing I see is a pub. And it's open! But perhaps I should explore a bit more first. This is, apparently, Huningue and centre ville is just up there.
Indeed, 2 blocks away is the town square. There's a Christmas market in presumably-not-full swing; it doesn't even fill the whole square. But there are people around and the sun comes out, briefly. There's also a shop in which I can buy Pepsi Max and speak ENTIRELY IN FRENCH for the whole interaction. France 1 Switzerland 0 Germany 0.
There's public loos just beyond the tram stop and I'm really not sure what country they're in. It's quite possible the ladies are in Switzerland and the gents in Germany tbh. The border does have a bit of an Actual Border Post feel to it, but nothing's doing. Customs is a box with some writing on it. There are no police or other public officials anywhere. Just a bunch of cold people waiting for a tram.
Back into Germany and the tram comes to take me back into Switzerland. I'm pretty sure I just made 4 border crossings in 15 minutes. Very pleased with myself.
The tram is heaving full. Everyone's going into Basel, so I assume things may be open by the time we get there. I get off just across the bridge and double back to walk across the river and take some photos 'n that. As I am stood waiting to get a good shot of an old looking tram, a loud Englishman says in super-stereotypical tramspotter anorak voice to his obviously disinterested companion "WELL YOU SEE, THE TRAMS LOOK OLD BUT OF COURSE THEY'RE JUST MADE LIKE THAT, THEY"RE ONLY ACTUALLY 20 OR 30 YEARS OLD". Whatever mate. Trams are cool and one of them is being driven by Santa.
When I arrive there's only 3 other people there. I can see a BA plane on a nearby gate and it's boarding. That would explain it: this place was probably very busy not too long ago, but just emptied.
A few glasses of champagne, lots more people turn up, it actually turns into a bit of a crèche. Meh. About 45 minutes before scheduled departure I realise I haven't gone through passport control yet, and really don't know how far the gate truly is, so I should probably pack up and set off.
Simply so I can wear a different hat (international hat goes away, domestic hat comes out) I end up repacking my rucksack and losing the little thing out of my right wrist's fitness tracker god damn it. Hopefully it's still in the bag somewhere.
The gate is near and boarding hasn't started. There are 3 distinct queues, the priority queue itself split in two. Within about a minute they announce business class and gold card holders can get on, so I join the priority queue that's. moving and a woman comes to check that a scruff bag like me is entitled to be there. Which I am. So there.
Onboard I'm in seat 10A, way back from business but with lots of legroom because it's an exit row. This means I can't put my bag on the floor, but I discover that my manbag actually fits in the seat back pocket anyway. Hurrah!
No-one sits in 10B, much to my delight and surprise because the plane is really very full. I think this may be the first onboard benefit I've had of being a gold card holder (where possible, they block seats next to us exalted types, don't you know. We like our privacy. Also no-one wants to sit next to people exuding such horrifying smug self-satisfaction anyway).
We take off on time. The sun is setting and looks pretty. Just before airplane mode kicks in I manage to download a few episodes of Last Podcast On The Left, so that once in the air I can doze off listening to comedians talking serial killers.