The church in Mariastein
Rotberg, Mariastein and the Augusta Raurica
Trap, trap, trap - bang. Oh, it is not my dream, people are walking around, so it must be time to get up. We take turns with the bathroom and wait for the showers. I need my coffee, so I decide to explore the “dining room” while I wait on the others. Argh, those steps are steep … but I get down the stairs okay. One more last very long step over the dog �" please don’t fall, please don’t fall �" okay, did it. I am there. Awesome, a buffet type where you just grab your likings, is set up. The coffee is waiting for me. Life is food.
We are allowed to eat out on the “balcony” (the connection of the two buildings) and I start carrying my coffee out there.
Luckily, everybody else is pretty much right behind me, so we can start with our breakfast. The kids are in seventh heaven, because they even have Nutella and cereal with joghurt. I stick to my bread and wished they had some cheese, since I am not too much into sweets. Ahhh, here comes the dog again, I noticed him last night, as he was laying on the bottom of the stairways, but did not pay much attention. Well, he is paying attention to me now. For some reason, he decided to choose my seat, to see if I am losing crumbs. I thought it was not a good idea to feed him, but he still stayed right there. And then, he even decided to jump up on the bench next to me. Sooo funny. His house, his rules. I was done eating, so it was okay. The kids were thrilled, but I asked them not to pet the dog, since I did not want hair in my coffee. We stayed seated there for a long while, since the view was so nice and we really enjoyed overlooking the surroundings. Then we debated on what to do and what there is to see.
It was not so warm, so we thought we can walk to the Landskron, the castle ruins that we can see. Or the Chälengrabenschlucht in the next town over. (and I love the way they say CHÄLENGRABENSCHLUCHT �" hahaha)
As we are finally getting out stuff together and after deciding to stay another night, so we don’t have to haul things back down, we made sure to reserve dinner (good choice indeed).
The kids were playing with the helmet of the knight in shining armor �" well, just the armor, the knight must have died other than in the armor, or maybe well of the horse, anyways, we could not detect any dents in it.
So, as they were playing, I was talking to a man from Bern, who was laughing when I said that we were thinking of going up the mountain to see the Landskron (castle) Apparently, coming from the Alps those were just minor hills for him. We were also talking about the Chälengrabenschlucht, but he adviced us to have proper shoes, walking shoes (hmm we were prepared for Zoo, not backpacking) so we are still debating. I am enjoying his accent, Swiss German just sounds so neat to me. Anyways so this Grizzly Adams (he did kinda look a little bit like him) tell us we should go and visit Laufen, a town only a few minutes drive from us, with a fabulous old town and center and such. We talk about the Landskron again �" oh yes, it is not too long of a walk, maybe 3,5 �" 4,5 hours, but if we drive to the other side, into France, we can park right in front of it.
Off we are….
And the daughter is driving. I am thinking the traffic is far, far less than in Frankfurt, let her get some practice. So, Mariastein, the first stop.
Mariastein is a very small village, yet many, many tourists pour in there daily. Partly by buses. Because Mariastein has a pilgrimage church. A very beautiful church. The story goes that a boy fell of a cliff and Maria came to save him. So there is an altar in a grotto and the whole way down is plastered with plates from people thanking the Lady for saving them or a loved one. I do not know if it works yet, we shall see. The church is very beautiful, but it looks very new, so maybe it has recently been restored.
Interesting for me was that the have holy water on tap. But they told me that the people in the mountains take some with them because they have little holders for it next to their bedside. Very interesting. What intrigued me the most is that it seems they are very strict catholic �" but nobody pushes it outward. More of an inward thing and I really liked this.
Old town in Lâufen
After my daughter got done with some sketches we decided to grab something to eat in Laufen. So, we drove to Laufen, which is rather funny, because Laufen in German means �" Walking. On the way there �" over those hills, as the guy called them �" we passed a cute little imbiss type place, but decided to eat there on the way back.
When we reached Laufen we had to go to a bank �" again, first of all. And shopping. There was a Migros and we wanted those things you cannot by in Germany. Like some spices, Roesti, chocolate with Ovaltine in it and Madeleines. My daughter is intrigued by the coins you get to get marbles. For every two Franken spend you get a coin and there is this giant gum ball machine that gives you marbles. The lady at the register looked at me, while my daughter is pulling on me, pointing to a sign that says: “ask about the marbles” �"“mama, ask her about the marbles. Mamaaaaaa, ask about the marbles” I think I better ask, before I lose mine. But, before I have the chance, the lady says: “Here are the marbles” I look dubfounded at ask what to do with them, she explain it and then says:” OH, you are on vacation here, how nice. I hope you have a wonderful time” and grabs another hand full of coins, hand them to my daughter and says: “So she has some fun too and here �" there is a little sack you can keep them in.
watch your head ;)
” We are having fun watching the marbles roll out of the machine.
clocktower in Laufen
We also looked for the old town, but it was rather disappointing. Not much to see, but one main street with old buildings and outside eating along the street.
But, the people in the town were super, super friendly and again I was wondering if it would not be better to move. The Swiss are so super nice, the area is nice, there seems to be no pollution and the streets are clean, the forests are clean, everything is clean. After walking down the one street we go to a gas station. My car is leeking again. Oh, no, I just got it out of the shop. But the guy, looks under it and says, no problem , just the A/C �" ahhhh �" no wonder I did not know, I live in Germany, I don’t think I have used it before.
Next trouble. Funny gas station, funny money �" you stick in the money and then get gas accordingly. I only have a 100 �" so what’s this 75 Euro? Yes my car eats this much. I thought. And of course it did not. So I am waiting for my change. I ask the attendend. No, you don’t get change. OH… so what, I just leave a 15 Franken tip? I say nothing, I already feel stupid to my bones. The attentend looks at me and says oh, no problem, pulls out some money of his pocket gives me 15 Franken, smiles at me and say I needed gas anyways. Did I mention that the Swiss are just really nice?
On the way back over the mountain (mountain to me, hill to the Swiss I guess) I hold my breath as we are driving through it.
I really hate heights. Finally we arrive at the snack point we spotted earlier. It looks like they are closing. My daughter gets out and ask. They close in half an hour they said. Okay, now can we get something to eat or not. I park the car and go ask myself. The ladies answer is just as vague. Actually they were only here for a private party and there is not much left. But if want something to drink �" maybe a couple sausages? Perfect. And potato salad? Even better. So lucky. We are sitting right in the wood �" okay the street next to us, but maybe one car every 15 minutes and we are able to overlook the whole area. I was surprised the place was even there. There is a bunker next to us and we were told it used to be one of the outlook points. The lookout point is beautiful. You can see so far. I am glad we had stopped.
The hut is usually only open on Sunday.
We enjoy the food and the scenery and the coolness in the forest for it is a rather hot day. Too hot for me. Great day for beach, bad for sight-seeing. When I thought 5 Franken was pretty average for the meal, I found out, it was for each �" Sausage 5 and potato salad another 5 �" I am thinking I will learn not to eat anything else in Switzerland and live of cookies and chips from the supermarket.
the well in Laufen
Now we want to walk to the Landskron Castle. So, we are are driving back to Mariastein and on to Leimen.
This was a great adventure, because we all of sudden we were in France. Of course it was not noticeable at all, except for the roadsigns. We had to stop twice for directions and still could not find it. We did find the restaurant underneath it, which is still an hour walk from there. So, we drove around again. Back to the Swiss side. No way up. Back over to France, still now way up. Back to Switzerland and back to France again. Ha, so funny,
Guard house in Laufen (I think)
We also found another walkway, but with sandals and gravelroad up steep hills in the middle of the heat and no shady trees, we decided we will find something else to do. Last thing we need is a sunburn or worse.
Obviously our friend from the Alps considers an hour walk uphill something he does on a daily basis. I envy him for it and think how much of a spoiled city brat I am after all �" and when did this happen. Oh, well, even Heidi was lazy in Frankfurt.
Augusta Raurica the theater
So what next �" oh, I remember I grabbed a little guide about Basel and I read something about romans. I just love roman stuff. So, there it is Augusta Raurica. Located right outside of Basel.
As we get there it is 16:15 already, the museum closes at 17.00. Still they charge full admission. Too much for us I consider. 35 Franken for all of us for 30 minutes �" no, we just walk outside. The lady �" nice as the Swiss are �" hands us a map of the area at least.
The baking house
We check out the bread baking house. It shows how the made bread and on same days you can even make your own. I spend most time at the theatre. And as I am reading through what plays they are staging here, I am already thinking to come back. Maybe for the roman day, now that should be an adventure. But, unfortunately it is on August 30th, the day of our Frankfurt Meet-Up. Maybe next year.
As everybody else is playing in the ruins, while I am drinking my coffee, I try to strike a conversation with other tourists, but to no prevail.
It is not easy to meet people when you travel. Not necessarily at least. Once the kids came back, people were more friendly.
The hostel when driving in from Leimen
After we were done looking at the sights here �" and we were slow it was really a very, very hot day, the streets were empty everywhere �" we went on to find the big roman theater. And after driving around and getting lost we ended up on a road that looked like more of a field drive and ended under a bridge, we gave up, maybe you can only get there by foot and we were too hot and tired to be walking anywhere. We did find the remains of some wall and the remains of the animal park, it was not so much there to see. I really want to go inside the museum one of these days though. It did look very interesting. Also, it shows pictures of how people first settled, and how the city fell to pieces �" part of war, part of an earthquake I think to recall, but we need to get back.
Time pressure, we did not want to miss our dinner at the hostel at 18:30. Definitely did not want to miss it.
trying to get a close up
Back at the hostel
Dinner was grand. It was very disappointing that we were not able to sit outside, since it had a lot to do with the decision of staying another night, just to enjoy being outside and breathing fresh air, but the food was very good and the rustic atmosphere made it fun. The outside area had been rented so to speak, they were having some kind of get together. So, we ate inside, which was good for we did not have to carry the dishes around.
After dinner my youngest found a friend right away and we were thankful for not having to put up with kids.
Or so we thought. For about 10 minutes. As we started playing a card game, we had other peoples kids hanging on to us. Little ones �" yikes. And of course the other two wanted to see what was goin on and joined in. The fun of staying in a hostel. We stuffed them with pretzels and chocolate and as I figured, once the food was gone, the kids disappeared also. Well, except for my own of course. And her friend. After we went to bed I realized that it was not such a good idea to take the room with the bunkbeds �" as it has the stairway to the 4th floor in it. And the get together that reserved our beautiful view �" well they got enganged in some drinking and some ended up spending the night and crawled up them step. So it was not very peaceful �" but awfully funny, when I got up and sat at the usually “view” spot and almost sat on top of a guy that was curled up in all those blankets. Gave both of us a very good jump start.
In front of the church - the wishing well