July 27th, 2015

Far From Where I Grew Up

My cousin, Ben Brooke, arrived in Basel last Saturday, midway through a three-month Eurail tour. We had a fantastic time showing him around Basel and a little bit of the rest of Switzerland. As we did the things tourists do, answered Ben’s questions, and generally horsed around, it hit me once again: I’m an American living abroad, one foot in the American culture and one in the Swiss one. I write books in English, but I speak German in my daily life. Sometimes it takes a visit like this to make me realize how lucky we are.

This being Switzerland, we had to go and see the mountains.


We took a cable car in Grindelwald to get up there, and at 7,000 feet had these views.

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Like I said, enough to make you feel like horsing around.

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Back in Basel, we took a ride on one of the ferries that cross the Rhine. They work on a special system without any kind of motor. It’s so quiet, all we hear is the water slapping against the long wooden hull. The passage to the other side costs 1.60 Swiss Francs for adults, and 80 cents for kids.

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Ben thought it would be a good idea to go up in the steeple of Basel’s cathedral. On such a windy day, I wasn’t so sure. But the view from up there was spectacular.


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At a spot on the Rhine River in Basel lies the confluence of three countries, Germany, France and Switzerland. We stood over that spot on the International Peace Bridge.

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About two hours’ drive from Basel we visited the St. Beatus Cave system, taking the guided tour almost 900 meters into the cave interior. The cave entrance is situated a short hike up the side of the mountain. From up there you have a tremendous view of the Lake of Thun.

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A lot of people settle in the place where they were born and raised. Others, like me, plant new roots in a place far from where they originally came from.

What about you? Do you live far from your birthplace? Write your answer in the comments below. Your story would interest me.