Happy (belated) National Swiss Day!

I’ve been busy being Swiss. The first of August each year is Swiss National Day. The equivalent of St. Patricks day for us. It’s the time of year, over 700 years ago that Switzerland became an independent state. No one is sure of the exact date.

It’s a chance for the Swiss to let their hair down and celebrate all that is Swiss. And, I have to report, the Swiss know how to throw a party!  I’ve now experienced the Fasnacht festival, the Christmas markets and the Autumn fair here and I’ve been impressed. I think Swiss National Day comes in a close second to the Fasnacht festival.

On Tuesday evening a fireworks display was planned for over the Rhein. So we headed down after work and there were food stalls and carnivals all along the river banks. We got some food and drink, sat by the river and watched the warm up acts. They had dinghy races down the river, sky divers dropping into the river and hundreds of balloons with flares being let off into the night sky. It was all very impressive.

But, there was no sign of fireworks and it was rapidly approaching 11.15, the start of the display. Then we saw two huge barges silently travelling upstream towards us. They hardly made any noise, moved in formation up along the river and moved into position, right in fornt of us with the minimum of fuss. What happened next was possibly the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. Forty minutes of ear pounding noise, chest vibrating explosions and awe inspiring visuals (see The Crafty Shrimp for pictures). Then as if nothing had happened the barges simply drifted back down the river and everyone got on with partying!

Wednesday was a day off work so we cycled to France for some shopping as everything was closed here. We then got back and as the weather was good we decided to go for a swim in the Rhein. When the water warms up here people jump in and float down along with the current. You can get in and out at various spots along the way to dry off or get a drink. But we hadn’t got round to it yet as the water hadn’t warmed as much as previous years. Yesterday, however, we took the plunge.

And it was cold. “Undercarriage retracting” cold, if you get my meaning? But once in you warm up pretty quickly and you get to see the city from a very different perspective. It’s also nice to float down along with other people and to wave to people on the shore. We got out, dried in the sun, then went for a drink and then back in for another trip down! I think we’ll be trying that again soon.

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