Today was a short 23 km from Basel to Kembs, France.
First thing this morning I found a bike shop and got the broken spoke on my rear wheel replaced. The shop, Cenci Velo, was kind enough to do the work while I waited. Thanks guys!
While I was out getting my spoke replaced, Jette and Mila packed our bags at the hotel. When I returned, we checked out, left our luggage at the hotel and had a quick breakfast. Then we hopped on our unloaded bikes (wow, they sure felt light!) and explored the Old City of Basel.
We then went down one of the main shopping streets. I went into a fantastic book store and bought a couple of books. Mila and Jette went into a pharmacy to get some gauze and ointment for her scraped knee. Instead, the pharmacist dressed the wound for Jette and wrapped it with an elastic bandage.
We all popped back into the bookstore so Jette could get a new mechanical pencil and eraser to replace her broken/lost set.
After that it was back to the hotel to pick up our bags and pack the bikes, then we hit the road. We rode out of Basel on the Rhine Route past the massive Novartis corporate/industrial campus. It is like a city unto itself.
A little further on and we came to the intersection of the Rhine and Rhone au Rhin Canal.
The rest of the day’s cycling would be along the canal path.
We stopped to learn about the fish that live in the canal. There are 12 main species of fish today. In the 1980’s pollution in the Rhine killed off many of the fish and had a big impact on the biodiversity of the canal. In recent years the pollution has lessened and the fish have made a comeback, with a different species mix.
As we came into Kembs we saw people along the canal banks looking at something in the water. As we closer we thought they were beavers, but they were not…
Can you tell what they are?
They are coypu a.k.a “river rats.” Whatever they are when Jette saw them she said, “Awww…they’re adorable!” and fed them an apple she found on the ground.
Meanwhile I tried swapped SIM cards in my phone, trying to find one that would work. The German card wouldn’t, even though I could throw a rock into Germany. With the Swiss one, I got a text message suggesting that I upgrade to a roaming data package for France, but when I clicked on the link in the message I got an error saying that I didn’t have a roaming data plan! It was a Swisscomm catch-22.
I was hoping for access to Google Maps so I could search for campgrounds close by. Jette was tired and we were all ready for a shorter rest day. A man came out of the house we were parked in front of and in my rusty French I asked him if there was any camping nearby. He said that he wasn’t aware of anything but that we could pitch our tent in his yard if we wanted. It was very kind, but I thanked him profusely and declined. I did’t say it to him, but we were as interested in the potential of a shower and internet connection as much as we were a place to pitch the tent.
I found a spot where apparently the phone “thought” I was close enough to Germany and got a connection. The closest campgrounds were too far and there were no hotels in Kembs. Jette and I rode back to an information map and sign we had passed and found a listing of local B&B’s. There were three, all on the same street. We turned off the canal path and rode into town. Compared to most of of the towns and villages we’ve been thorough on this trip it seemed a bit plain and even rough around the edges.
We quickly found the street we were looking for and two of the B&B’s. The first was a gasthaus style pub-hotel. There was a note taped to the door saying that it was closed until next week. The next one looked more promising, but it too had a note taped to the door. It said that there were two rooms available and gave a phone number to call. The door was locked. I tried my phone, but couldn’t get service with any of the the three SIM cards (German, Swiss, Dutch). I was hoping that one of them would let me buy a roaming package, but no luck. So, we got on our bikes and went in search of the third B&B which was supposedly on the same street. We rode down to where we thought we should find it based on the house number, but there was a roundabout and the street changed names. So, it was back to the second one. We knocked on the door. No answer. There was a restaurant across the street so Jette and I went in and asked if they had a phone we could use. Somehow they understood my French and kindly obliged. I stumbled through a conversation with the man on the other end of the line and a few minutes later we were back across the street and entering the magical oasis of Au Relais de la Pose aux Chevaux.
Built in 1739 the building used to be a mail relay station (thus the name Relay of the Mail by Horses). We were warmly greeted by the owner and shown into the beautiful garden and then into the home.
As you can see, it is a beautiful, charming place and a fine setting for handstands and cartwheels.
It is almost midnight, so I am off to bed. Goodnight.