BordersThe insubstantial nature of European borders continued to unsettle me. After catching my German train in Switzerland the line seemed to weave between the two countries, never clearly moving from one to the other and leaving me unsure of which one I was in. One evening Sibylle suggested we visit a certain restaurant and along the way we passed a 'Welcome to Austria' sign, I immediately panicked at the thought of being in a different country without my passport but nobody seemed to be concerned by it judging by the mix of licence plates in the car park. Then on the drive back to the airport we unexpectedly crossed into Switzerland early and then missed a turning and found ourselves in France, eventually approaching the airport from that direction. Inside I finally had to produce my passport but ironically it was to check in for the flight (Passport Control came later). When I checked my phone I had 29 messages from my mobile provider welcoming me to Switzerland, Germany, France or Austria depending on which tower was closest at the time.
LindauMy first visit to one of the islands in the Bodensee was to Lindau, a few kilometres down the coast. Reached by a short causeway it seems like just another beautiful, historic Bavarian town but after a short walk in any direction you inevitably reach the waterside. Sitting by the harbour with its lighthouse and lion statue, serenaded by a sailor's choir performing in the square, we looked over the lake to Switzerland & Austria before deciding to go to the latter for a sunset supper.
Expulsions memorialTucked away in an Überlingen park was a small memorial plaque with the (Google) translated inscription "The dead admonish those living in freedom to commemorate the dead of the expulsion 1945/46 and the victims of the wall and barbed wire" . The expulsion of ethnic Germans after the end of WW11 was something I'd never heard about before and, putting questions of right, wrong and relative suffering aside, raised some questions about how we balance individual and collective responsibility.
Stilt house museumA wonderful 'village' of reconstructed houses based on archaeological excavations dating back to 4000 BC. As usual I ignored all the introductory information and wandered around getting the feel of the place, content to do any follow-up reading later on at my own pace. The houses were spacious and airy but I wondered what sort of pressure would drive people to build such labour-intensive dwellings - the official line was wolves & bears but I suspect other humans were a more tangible threat.
iPhone lifeThe amount of things I was able to do with my phone while in holiday was quite a surprise. From inside Basel airport I ordered my Uber taxi to the station and within a minute it was confirmed, I got directions to my pick-up point and, when I got there I was greeted with "Hello Andy" by a stranger who led me to his car. A smooth ride across Basel and I was delivered to my destination, no need to deal with money (or which currency to use) and no struggling to explain where I wanted to go. Throughout my stay I was able to pay for almost everything via ApplePay (the two exceptions being a small café and my B&B), when wandering around I could 'pin' my eventual destination and find my way there on the map, and when Sibylle's phone couldn't find a signal mine stood in for it as a temporary satnav. Plus it let me take pictures, send messages, and (gasp!) make phone calls. There's always the worry about becoming too reliant on a single device but for me it's amazingly liberating to know I can cope with most of what I'll find while exploring a new place.