Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A visit with family in Basel Switzerland

Last week headed off to Basel, Switzerland, for our second visit to this wonderful area.  Weather predicted was cool and raining...reality was sun and heat, except for one day of showers.  We were quite warm since we did not pack for the real weather.  Oh well, one of the joys of travel.

Our trip to Basel was for a family visit.  We meet my cousin Maurice's mother, Maureen and sister  Diane for the first time.  They were visiting from their home town of Cape Town, South Africa.  I am related to them from my grandmother Daniella Gauchot's side of the family.

We all hit it off right from the start, spending lots of time talking family.  Maureen was able to tell us some funny stories about her grandmother Bertha, even mimicking what I imagine was the sound of her voice.  Bertha said "isn't it funny how it used to be that we ate inside and went to the bathroom outside (out house), but now we eat outside and go to bathroom inside"  The way Maureen told this was just so funny in her South African accent!
Diane was so excited about meeting more family on her mothers side of the family.  She had previously met Jenn and Jeff in NYC when they were all there for the wedding of Maurice and Gus.  Diane showed me a needlepoint that she had made for Maurice.  She also does counted cross stitch and had brought one with her to work on.  Funny how this is a craft that my mom and my daughters and I all share with her.  Some things are family traits I guess.
Same as how Maurice and I have the ability to make the same small little comments at the same time.  We both laugh and say we really are cousins!

Maurice took us all to visit both a Swiss Chocolate factory, followed by a Gruyere cheese factory.   At the Maison Cailler of Switzerland, not only do you get to see how the cacao bean gets processed into melt in your mouth can sample as much as you want also! This was the ultimate chocoaddict type of tour, with a room full of variety to sample.  Once we tasted their chocolate, we all had to buy a bit of something to prolong the memory later.  What a fun experience!

Cailler Swiss Chocolate

By the time we left the factory, we were all seriously in need of some lunch to compensate for all the chocolate we ate.  So, next stop was the Gruyere cheese factory, which was located in a small village near by.  Before doing the self guided tour, we enjoyed a nice lunch at the factory.  Then on to the cheese making experience.  Part of the tour included smelling all the various grasses and flowers that the cows eat in this area.  Wow, went from "oh, that's really nice" to "ugh, that really stinks"!  Quite a different experience from the morning.  This was a really interesting tour and included a free gift of cheese for each of us.  We had sample of gruyere cheese at 6 month, 8 month and 10 month ageing.  We were all quite surprised at the difference you could taste within such a short time of aging. A tour that was enjoyed by us all, even if it wasn't about more chocolate!

Gruyere cheese factory
Well it was now time to leave Switzerland, but surprise, air traffic controllers were on strike first in France and the next day throughout most of Europe.  So, we got to spend two more nights in Basel.  We all cheered since we had been having such a great visit!  So, Fred put the sheets back on the bed again (he had stripped the bed that morning).

The following day Fred and I took Maureen and Diane to visit the Basel Paper mill Museum.  Maureen had it on her list of things to do in Basel and we were happy to go there since it had been closed on our trip last year.  Paper making demonstrations as done in 1500s occur on a regular basis.  We got to see and hear (very loud) large wooden blocks pounding rags in large stone bins to make pulp at the start of the paper making the process.  Samples of very old paper, books and ink were on display.  Diane got to use a feather pen to write her name.  The museum included many old (1800s) typewriters, even a few circular variations where you could only see your work after you remove the paper and ending with the first Apple Mac in Basel (1984).  A wonderful museum, in a really nice setting, that all my book loving friends need to visit if ever in Basel.

Basel paper mill museum

For our last morning, Fred and I went off to take a walk.  We included going across the Rhine in one of the little ferry boats that are  wire guided  and go from old Basel to new Basel.  I really love doing this trip, which is just about 6-8 mins only.  Boats were decorated by the "grafitti kittters" with knitted fish themes in honor of Art Basel, which was now taking place.  Was a hot morning, so we were glad to get back to the apartment for a cool drink and some lunch.  Then, all to soon it was time to head to the airport and back to France.

The trains were now on strike in France, the land of many frequent strikes, so we took the airport bus service back to Cannes.  While we were gone, summer had finally arrived on the Cote d'Azur!
Saturday we spent the day at cousin Philippe and Carole's house celebrating their daughter Charlene's 22nd birthday.  Amazing how all these kids grow up so fast.

Message from Jenn and Jeff - they bought their first house in West Seattle!  How exciting and how stressful, as many of us know.  They will be moving early in July.  Congratulations to them!

Tomorrow granddaughter Jessica arrives in France.  We are really looking forward to her arrival.  Monday we will be leaving for 5 days in Paris with her.  Will be interesting to see her reactions to things that we know so well.

During all of this, we continue to go thru things here at the house.  Yesterday was scanning some pencil drawings found mixed in with other papers, that my mother had made in 1943 - 44.  Wonder why I never got that drawing gene? Today I found letters written in 1920s, by the brother  (Elie Gauchot) of my great grandfather, when he lived in South Africa.  The next packet of letters found were written by his son (Maurice Gauchot) to my grandparents.  I will be giving  the originals to Maurice since it is part of his family history as well.
Also found more letters that were sent between my great great aunt Gwen Wyatt  in England to my grandfather, Georges Wyatt, in France.  Reading some of  these letters do make the family a bit more real.  I don't have enough time left to scan all of these items.  They are going to be packed and taken to Basel for safe keeping.  When Maurice and Gus return to the US, they will include these in their own shipment home.

Fred and I are now saying "the dumpster is here" as a way of keeping in mind that time here is ending and there is only time to make a quick evaluation of keep or toss.  We did the same thing when emptying out our house in Seattle.  It is the only way to finally end the whole process.  No decision from the city as to whether they approve of the sale, although there is no reason to believe that it will not happen.
Okay, time to add pictures and get this out today.
Michelle and Fred
Traveling so you don't have to!