The Rhein Runs Through It

View of Basel from Wettsteine Brucke, around Easter-time.

I am a person of water. I drink many litres of it per day. I need to have water close to me: the sea, lakes or rivers. Without it…well, I don’t feel quite the same. My life is lacking something.

The Rhein (Rhine to non-German speakers) flows fast and strong. You can only swim down it one-way, though it’s just as quick to float, really.

Swimmers. Freight ships. Tourist cruise boats. Canoes. All use it. Three ferry boats on ziplines, powered only by their rudder and the strength of the current, make their way to and fro across it.

In my mother’s guidebook the Rhein was described as “pewter” coloured. She was initially concerned by that description, but once I showed her the river it was clear such an adjective was no slur.

Other Swiss cities have their lakes (Geneva, Lucern, Zurich) and also their rivers (Bern). None are as intimately linked as with Basel: the Rhein literally cuts our city in two. Basel isn’t just beside the Rhein, the Rhein is part of Basel.

And I think that is absolutely wonderful.

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