I'm sitting here in a restaurant with a picture window looking out at tram railcars clanging by, a tangle of narrow streets, and people, people, and more people. I'm in shock.
This is Basel, which bills itself as the cultural capital of Switzerland, and I'm eager to explore its streets and museums. It was also good to sleep in a bed last night and spread my things to dry.
I'll stay about three days here learning why Basel--at the intersection of France, Germany, and Switzerland--became such a cultural center, and why it is here that the big ships stop their journey up the Rhine.
At the moment, though, I'm feeling a bit of withdrawal from the gentle flow of the river and the company of friends. The culture we saw was the culture of small old towns, which felt real and pure. The pace we set was our own.
The camps were dark, our beds the ground, but it was good. The city will be its own adventure, and then I'll be more than glad to get back into the countryside where I belong.