European Vacation – Day 5 – Two Lost Ducks

 Our luggage was in the hallway before 8:00 am so it could be loaded onto a bus and shipped to our next destination.  The previous night there was a group dinner at the hotel and we were treated to an open bar all night to help compensate for any inconvenience.   This was our first real chance to get to know some of our fellow travelers.At 10:00 am our bus departed the hotel.  Half the group went to Zurich and the other half went to Basel, Switzerland on our bus.  We had a delightful day exploring the town of Basel.   The Protestant church near downtown was a former Catholic cathedral.  Very ornate for the Protestants.
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The city hall was built in 1501.  We wandered the streets and visited several shops.  Swiss chocolates are available everywhere.  Ryan the tour director handed out $70 euros per couple so we could buy lunch.  Having recently enjoyed the buffet breakfast at the hotel we discovered a tiny cafe in a courtyard and enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee with steamed milk.
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The Swiss joined the EU but maintained their own currency the Swiss franc.  The value of the Swiss franc is equal to the $USD and is 15% lower than the euro. The downside is when you pay in euros they make change in Swiss francs.  Today is the only day we will be in Switzerland.  We crossed over the Rhine and saw the dock where our riverboat should have been.
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Our group of travelers has  been very reliable.  When a departure time is set, anyone that is not 10 minutes early is considered late. That is until today when one couple missed the departure time by an hour.  They managed to get lost in Basel.  They called the main Tauck phone number in the US and were patched through to our tour director in Basel.  The bus had to move out of downtown so we drove to the river where the riverboats normally dock.  Lots of parking there.  We waited another half hour for the two lost souls to show up in a taxi.  Finally on our way 1.5 hours later we arrive at the boarder checkpoint for Germany.  The border guard waves us through then a customs agent bangs on the side of the bus to get us to stop. He is very irate that we had proceeded.  Explaining we were waived through by the boarder guard only made him more angry.  Somehow the customs agent determined he was owed 78 euros.  Our tour director paid the fee and we are finally on our way with a four hour drive to get to our stranded riverboat hotel.  We should arrive at our riverboat around 8:00 pm.

We made a new fiend today.

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It has started to rain.  It is not raining enough to float a riverboat but it is raining enough to snarl traffic and delay our arrival at the riverboat.  We pulled into a highway rest stop. A few observations – gasoline is $8.00 USD per gallon (4 liters), the cost to use the restroom is 70 cents.  If you make a purchase at the rest stop store you get a 50 cent refund.  They sell beer in half gallon cans – 64 ounces.  You must drive safely because if you are convicted of a DUI which is 0.02 (one 12 ounce beer) you will lose your license for 10 years.  If you are stopped by the police for DUI while riding a bicycle you will lose your car drivers license for 10 years.  In Germany a bicycle is considered a vehicle.

i need this electric assist bicycle.

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We arrived at our riverboat ms Grace at 8:00 pm.  It was refreshing to have a dozen staff lined up waiting to do anything our heart desired.  We had a delightful dinner on the fantail.  There was a buffett in the main dining room but we preferred to be served so ate at Arthers restaurant on the fantail.
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Tomorrow we have the choice of two delightful excursions.