Fourteen Months Abroad – Basle, Switzerland

May 26.—We left Geneva yesterday at 12:40, reaching here about eight last evening. The last thing we did before leaving was to walk to the island of Rousseau, which was quite near us.

The tall Lombardy poplars and other trees give the island a picturesque appearance. Five beautiful mouse colored swans, very young ones, were swimming in the river about the island and about the monument.

Miss Webber left Geneva before us. She said “God bless you,” twice, when bidding me farewell.

Among the last things I noticed before leaving the station at Geneva were three trees of good size covered with purple trumpet-shaped blossoms, the young leaves scarcely showing—the blossoms being so thick and large. I have frequently spoken of these trees in my journal. Beautiful wild flowers were blooming on the banks of the railway—the same that I gathered at Bouveret; rare flowers, blossoming with buttercups, wild geraniums and oxeye daisies, As seen from the cars the trees in Switzerland seem much like our own. While in the low lands between the Jura Alps and the great Alps, L. remarked “Not much Alpine about this.” Soon we came to Lake Neuchatel where there was a fine display of distant white and blue mountains and we wondered whether they were in Interlaken or those we saw at Lucerne. L. said perhaps Jungfrau was one. One high mountain resembled a great pile of snow. “Unexpected return of high Alps,” L. said. When we reached the town of Neuchatel there was a wondering over the mountains ! Soon there was another lake and more brown vineyards. On the rocks were creeping bunches of low pink flowers. The flower beds were brilliant with red peonies. We were on high ground and looked down upon great, broad valleys below us, in one of which was a very low church with a tall spire. Other churches, houses and hamlets were in the valleys ; there were many tunnels. About five we were ascending the Jura mountains, which gave us these views, going over the Jura-Simplon Pass. We were delighted with all this beauty and grandeur. L. said it was “funny how we had to twist around to get out of the Alps.” We consider this pass worthy to be compared with the three others we have been over. We passed close by Swiss farmhouses and barns—often in one long large building; noticed old-fashioned stages. Everything was very green, fresh and spring-like. There was rain just at the close of our journey and great golden clouds. We are at Hotel Gothard.

Later.—Since writing we have taken rides in the electric trams to see this venerable old city. The river Rhine divides it into two unequal parts. L. was anxious to see the river at this point. He finds it larger and broader than he supposed, and quite rapid. The two parts of the city are united by three bridges. We crossed two of them—the middle one having six piers of wood and six of stone. We went over it in an electric tram and noticed it afterwards from different points.

We admire the beautiful, large hawthorn trees here, with red or pure white blossoms, and the laburnum trees, with drooping yellow blossoms.

We have been to two markets and to the cathedral. The latter, formerly a Roman Catholic church, is now the principal Protestant church in Basle. It is on high ground, over-looking the Rhine. From a terrace back of the cathedral we had a splendid view of the river, the city and its bridges. There were trees there and dear little birds were singing. We found our way into the old cloisters but the church was closed. This old cathedral is one of the most peculiar we have seen, having on the front of the church two equestrian statues-one representing St. George killing the dragon, the other St. Martin dividing the cloak. The gay roof resembles oilcloth in the distance.

Basle, the lowest town in Switzerland north of the Alps, reminds me a little of Nuremburg because of the roofs and the old German style of architecture. “The climate is so mild that many fruits of southern climes thrive on its soil; the vegetable gardens are the finest in Switzerland and all sorts of fruit ripen here sooner than in almost any other part of the country.”