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Remembrance of things past

Features |

William Cook first visited the city as a teenager in love. Would he still succumb to its charms?

My first visit to Basel seems like a distant dream, but returning half a lifetime later I suddenly feel nineteen again. The station is a lot busier, but the old ticket office is just the same. Look! There are those Alpine murals I adored, already ancient when I first saw them. But this time there’s no one to share them with. I’m returning here alone. I first came to Basel with my first girlfriend, on my first InterRailing holiday. I was nineteen, she was eighteen, and I was hopelessly in love. Like all teenagers, we thought we knew it all. We thought we’d survive on bread and cheese and cheap red wine and sleep on night trains. What could possibly go wrong? After a week she’d caught food poisoning and our money was running low. Luckily, a friend of ours was housesitting for a family in Basel. We called him...

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