5. Basel – Bukten – First Swiss steps

“Now when the early-born rose-fingered Eos rose,” I rose from the bed to see the weather; because today we wanted to start our first hike in Switzerland. From about a lot my first glimpse of the street; there, leaning against the large doorpost, was the philanthropic Italian who had given me such loyal support the day before. I had told him that if he was passing, he would like to come in again. And now it was only six o’clock, and who knows how long he had been there. <<Cape laetus horam>> I thought with Horace, dressed quickly, left Henninger alone, which he so desperately needed after the misery and hardships of the previous day, and hurried him off to the patiently waiting Italian who should now serve as a guide on a walk through the city.

                When I returned to the inn, my traveling companion had disappeared again. Finally the porter told me that he had gone to the saddler and had several things repaired on the horse’s gear. After a good half hour he came back, and by the time we were packed and saddled it was nine-thirty before we started our day’s march. So we decided in future to follow exactly the instructions of old Philander von Sittewald, which were at the front of our travel book and read as follows:

who wants to travel

the silence be quiet

take a steady step

Don’t take much

Come early in the morning

and leave your worries behind.

We only had one saddle, so only one of us could ride at a time. The other horse carried the luggage. My extremely polite companion suggested that whoever would have gone in the morning might ride at noon, and vice versa. Two reasons, however, caused me to change my opinion: if I had sat on the horse for half a day, walking the next day would have become far more difficult for me than if I had walked all the time. And then, I will confess, my ambition played with him, for it seemed to me something great to be able to say, after my return, that I had walked the whole of Switzerland in a few days. I pretty much at least carried out the decision I had made.

So, I walked lightly beside our Rosinante, Ziegenhainer in my right hand and the little purse that contained our cash slung over my shoulder. No sooner was Basel behind us than we were in the middle of the mountains, which were our constant companions as far as the Lombard plain. The Rhine meanders in between. A youth full of life, he rushes along through the native valleys, and man’s all-conquering yoke does not yet press his free neck.

Inn “Zum Stab” in Liestal

To the left and right of the road you can see beautiful meadows, from which the harmonious ringing of the bells could still be heard, although the season was already quite advanced. Wine is also planted there. We passed a vineyard where grapes were harvested. Since I still had a single Grand Ducal Hessian kreuzer in my pocket, this helped me to get a good portion of grapes; for the people had no idea what that strange piece of money was and looked at it back and forth ten times. Now we came to the so-called red house, a sizeable dairy farm, and leaving Schönthal on the right, beautifully situated on a mountain slope, we reached the little town of Liestal, the capital of Basel land, a little after noon. There we hired in the inn “Zum Stab“. But now the trouble began. The language that people speak there is also German, but nobody who hasn’t heard this “Schwizerdütsch” for at least two days can understand it. That’s how it was for us at first; but once you have noticed the individual peculiarities, you understand everything quite well. Yes, you soon get used to speaking like that yourself. This was also the case for me, and in other places I was sometimes asked if I wasn’t from Zurich.

It was with great difficulty that we came to an understanding with the landlady, a true Swiss by nature. Our bill was not important. After we settled them, we set out again. The area unfolded in front of our astonished eyes more and more charming and romantic, the mountains towered higher and higher, the meadows scattered around became ever lusher at the “Halbmond” and the “Sonne”. I voted for the “Halbmond” because, as we intended to spend the night here, the night star suited it better than the day star, which, moreover, looked as if its warm ray could easily have melted the metal in our pocket, which had already suffered a great deal in Strasbourg. So, we turned into the gentle “Halbmond”, from the gate of which the young butler, whose name, as we soon learned, was “Seppli”, hurried busily out of the gate upon our arrival.