Woke up early with the jet lag effect still strong. Packed most of the stuff before heading out to walk the street. Our first stop was to look for one of the recommended restaurant called Doo but unfortunately, like most other shop, it was still not opened.
Made our way to La Petite France. The buildings and the river made a picturesque scenery. Taking some photos, we left and walked in the direction of the Unesco listed Strasbourg cathedral. En route there was a bread shop that was opened and we popped in to get some pastries. It was a pleasant surprise as the shop Woerle Boulangerie was in fact quite popular and it served some delicious pastries. We ate within the shop itself.
Walked another 5 mins and we arrived at the gigantic Strasbourg cathedral covered with incredible gothic sculptures. I was in awe at the size of the building and the details of it all. I was sure this was the best of the Notre Dame, and if you only got one to see, see this one.
We walked around the cathedral, once in a while snapping different perspective of it. It was a good choice to go really early before the tour groups poured in from all over.
Walked back to the hotel and checked out a while later. Our first long drive started and already I was having trouble getting onto the highway. Finally did so after driving around in circles.
It was a 2 hrs drive to Nancy, smooth sailing most of time, punctuated with tolls and the occasional crying complaints from baby K who either was hungry or sleepy.
We arrived in Nancy and still I struggled with getting to one of the carparks that I had input into the GPS. Eventually we decided to park at the parking lot some 500 meters away and walked to Place Stanislas. It was almost a 15 mins walk, straightforward but a little tiring as it was hot.
The Unesco listed Place Stanislas square was, which some said to be one of the most beautiful square in France. It was nice, with the golden gates and exquisite lampposts and hanging lamps. The sculptures at diagonals and of course the grandeur of the hotel summed up the beauty of it all. Didn’t had much time to sit around but we did have lunch at Jean Lamour, a pastries/desert shop selling really pretty pastries. Our quiche, cheesecake, tart and eclair washed down with a latte did the trick for the lunch.
Walked back to the carpark and again had to spend some time with baby care, changing nappies and washing and sterilising before hitting the road again. From where we parked, we can see a huge cathedral but we didn’t have time for that. My shoes also decided to give up the bottom soles and I am left when a thin cloth base to cover my feet.
Another 2hrs journey to Reims and baby got cranky due to tiredness. It was quite challenging as there wasn’t much we could do and he didn’t like the car seat too much. Wife was on the pumps and we could only let him drink from the bottle till he dozed off. There were more variations of speed limits because of road works, roads becoming single lanes and due to going through towns but it was still easy driving. Did a service stop 30mins from Reims to pump petrol and continued forth to our hotel at the Mercure Reims Cathedrale.
There was basement parking with ample spaces and it was great to have direct access of the lift to and from the rooms since I had to make a few trips to carry the heavy luggage and the miscellaneous stuff. The room was smaller the the Novotel and not as furnished with the washing accessories but I guess what you pay was what you get.
Again the same routine of cleaning up and again baby was cranky for sleep and did fell asleep after a while. We were then forced to order room service for dinner. The food was very nicely decorated and reasonably tasty.
Outside the sun set at around 10pm but we spent the remaining night to get ready for tomorrow.
Woke before 5 am local time together with the baby. Had to entertain him while my wife continued to sleep.
Jetlag was hitting me hard as i stayed awake through 6am local time. We got out of the room by 7am to a nearby brekkie place just 5 mins walk away from our hotel. Ordered pancake and rosti and sat on the inside, shielded from the morning chill at Babu’s coffeehouse. The food tastes pretty good but it was a tad expensive, everything costing almost 50CHF.
Went back to the hotel and the packing began. It was not until 930 did I started my 2.5km walk to Sixt, from Google maps did not look too far but it was. The bad luck had started when I found that I have forgotten to bring along my license, my credit card and my passport and had to take the train back. From here I learnt to buy tickets from the auto machine (short distance stops tickets) and which train to take, reading from the broadcasting screen which was the earliest to leave and the train number with its corresponding track number. 4mins later, I was back at Zurich HBF and I walked quickly to the room and explained the situation to my wife before leaving with all that was required. Took another train to the Hardbrucke station and walked back to the Sixt office.
I was given a free upgrade to the BMW X1 and after struggling to start the car (not knowing that I need to insert the remote into the slot for the push start to work). When I have parked the car at the ground floor for the staff to help me change the in car GPS language to English, I was informed that there wasn’t this option. So I asked the staff and she gave me another choice, the Peugeot 508. Also I had to remind them that I need a baby seat. So went up to the 8th floor again, got into the car and this time, had an issue with finding the hand/foot brakes which wasn’t physically available. It was only a while later did I noticed the “P” at the left hand side below the aircon vent.
After arriving at the ground floor, the baby seat was already out but it looked really old and quite uncomfortable. I was also informed to install it myself using the instructions at the side of the seat.
When I’m finally ready to go, I had problem finding the hotel on the navigation system. I only found one that sounded like the hotel and shown to be on the same location that I choose it. Moving out, even the first turn i had trouble because some of the roads that pedestrians walk were in fact roads that cars could travel.
Reaching Zurich city and driving around was a total nightmare. People and bicycles all around, road works with traffic controllers around, it was chaotic. As I managed to reach the hotel, I couldn’t find a lot and was afraid to park at the road side. As a result I went around again but it was not an easy one due to the chaos. When I finally arrived after going through many detours, I tried to drive towards the car park at the opposite side of the road but the barrier wouldn’t budge. So I reversed and simply parked near the entrance of the hotel, no longer giving much of a damn. Thereafter it was moving luggage and checking out, all taking effort and time.
Punched in the location onto my garmin, I tried to navigate to the next destination, Basel, only to find that because of the distance, a wrong turn would take much time to recalculate. What’s worse, I had accidentally set up the GPS to not take toll roads, essentially the highway. It was only that I forced myself onto the highway that I realized that.
From then it was easy drive till I arrived at Basel. We were supposed to go to Basle Munster cathedral. The GPS did that but it was another nightmare altogether. I entered a zone that was practically no cars around, only people and trams. I wasn’t sure if it was not allowed but I had no other choice since I already entered. Sometimes I even drove on the the tracks that the trams took. It was really stressful and embarrassing to do that. In the end, we changed the location to the zoo.
The carpark of the zoo was a very discrete turn in, crossing the tram’s track. I missed a turn and similarly had trouble detouring and going back to the same route, with all the trams and out of place roads. After turning in the small road to the carpark, I went around the one way street carpark and it was full. Went out and further down another one which was also full but there was a car that was about to move out, just that the owner was still loading the vehicle. There was car coming out behind and I was obstructing so I had to drive out of the carpark and back again. His spot was taken because another car also just came in. Talk about luck. Went back to wait on the same car which was just about finish, eventually I managed to park there.
The tickets cost 18CHF each and we had to use the single nursing bed to change baby K diaper. Thereafter we proceeded to the aquarium to its side. The Basel zoo to say the least was normal. There wasn’t much more unexpected to see compared to the other zoos that we had gone before. What striked me the most was to see wolf, snow leopard, lamas, bisons and silverback gorillas. Also there were volunteers walking the animals on the main walking street.
We had lunch at the only restaurant available but the cooked food was sold out, as it was late afternoon. Bought a slice of pie and a slice of cheesecake and a 12ft bread, 2 drinks which all costed 22CHF but it was sure filling.
Left the restaurant filled and completed the rest of the exhibitions. As there was difficulty in finding parking in the city, we decided to leave the car at the car park (coupon hasn’t ended yet) and took the tram into the city. There were only 2 trams (number 10 and 17) both of which could reach the Theatre stop which one of the waiting passengers advised us to go to, so we bought the tickets and jumped on. After we reached and asked a passerby that we knew there was actually another stop that was closer but was still walkable anyways. We continued on foot which brought us to Marktplatz which had a beautiful red building. Upon entering we found that it was actually the Town Hall, not the attraction that we were looking for. This place had a square in front of it with tentages of stores and crowded with people. We continued on until we almost reached the bridge where we took a right turn into Rheinsprung. From this route up, the scenery of Basel town was slowly unveiling. 10mins climb which was pretty manageable even with a baby, who fell asleep sitting on his hip seat, we arrived at Basle Munster cathedral, red exterior massive cathedral similar to others that we had seen. Didn’t visit the interior as there was a service going on, we went to the back of the cathedral where there was a bird’s eye view of the Basel River and the bridges.
Walked back to Marktplatz where we waited for tram 17 that brought us 4 stops back to the zoo, cutting down on a lot of walking. Got back to the car and started a host of activities such as feeding the baby, changing the nappies, express milk, washing up accessories, cleaning up pumps and sterilising.
We hit the road after that, getting onto the highway and crossing the borders after going through a non functional border station, since Eurozone is borderless. Rest of the journey was smooth, with speeds varying from 110km-130km/hr. Took a restroom break at the service station enroute and before long, we arrived in Strasbourg.
Entering the city felt less complicated than Swiss ones and we made it to the Novotel basement parking with no drama. Checked in was easy and soon baby K was stretching himself on the doubles in the room. Bathed him and he fell asleep soon after, which changed our plans. Settled for McD as the easiest takeaways and that I was too lazy to search for anything else. The shopping mall beside was closed.
The night was spent cleaning up even though sun set only occurred at after 9pm. It was a long day but the excitement of travel drove our tired bodies for more.