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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Something always happens when we go to Basel

This year, the ICE German train had problems, the water in the Rhine River is very low, the trams stopped running by the Marktplatz, and there was police and military presence.

Decided to go to Basel today and take the 10:05 train.

That train goes direct to Basel with stops in Spiez, Thun, Bern, and Olten. At least we don't have to change trains. Unfortunately, we are on the German ICE train. The train's starting point is at Interlaken Ost at 10:00 and arrives at 19:34 in Berlin, Germany. If we stay on this train, we could even get to Frankfurt.

I don't understand how this train whose starting point is at Interlaken Ost can be 9 minutes late to begin with, when it arrives in Interlaken West!! This just drives me crazy!!! It happens every time with the German trains that come into Switzerland. It then throws every schedule off. Yes, it shows them trying to make up the time but...... if you have a connection before that, you are out of luck. The German trains are built for the high speed concrete rails in Germany and not those in Switzerland so the train rocks from side to side more. It is not a comfortable ride. The seats are not that comfy either.

When we arrived in Olten, we were told we had an hour delay due to technical difficulties. The German trains have had a history of breaking down but this is just crazy! We should have just changed our plans when we knew it was the German ICE trains we were taking. Well, in five minutes they fixed the problem and off we went toward Basel. Glad I'm not going to Germany today on this train!!!! A group of infantry soldiers boarded the train in Bern and they were a little worried about the delay as they had connections to make. They got off the train in Liestal.

Basel, population of 171,017, is a place of exciting contrasts. It is a city with historical buildings next to modern architecture. It is where a young and dynamic art scene exists alongside world-renowned museums. There is a cosmopolitan ambience here and lively traditions, too. You just must experience Basel for yourself. Basel is not a favorite city of Rick Steves, an American travel writer, author, activist, and television personality. His travel philosophy encourages people to explore less-touristy areas of destinations and to become immersed in the local people's way of life. For me, everyone can find something new, exciting and interesting in Basel. Yes, I love the less touristy places but sometimes you miss out on other things to see and do.

Basel is a city on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the country’s borders with France and Germany. Its medieval old town centers around Marktplatz, dominated by the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall.

The Basel City Hall, locally known as Roothuus, is a 500 year old building and the seat of the Basel government and its parliament. In the middle of the Old Town, it is particularly eye catching with its red facade, the characteristic tower and playful frescoes.

A visit to the Rathaus (city hall) is worthwhile especially on account of the council chamber, the attractive inner courtyard, the romantic arcades, and the tower. It was built after the great earthquake to replace the former seat of government. After Basel joined the Swiss Confederation, the front part of the building was replaced with an imposing new structure. The coats of arms of Basel and the 11 other members of the then Confederation adorn the crenellations. At the beginning of the 17th century, the city hall was extended, and the artist Hans Bock decorated the facade with painted trompe l'oeil. In 1900, the building was extended again to include the left-hand wing and the tower at the right.

"where there is unity, God lives."

If you were a child, would you want to use this fountain?

City Hall is particularly eye­ catching with its red facade, the characteristic tower and playful frescoes.

The Rhine is Basel’s secret landmark. As one of the most important trading routes, it has had a huge influence on the development of the city. Today, it makes up a significant part of the quality of life that Basel offers its guests and residents.

The Rhine is a source of inspiration for the people and has molded the history and architecture of the city. In the summer months, Basel’s inhabitants, students, and business people flock to the river’s banks to sunbathe, promenade and generally let their cares melt away in the sunshine. Yes, the water level on the Rhine is way down. Michael and I didn't see one single cargo ship or cruise ship.

The four Rhine river ferries “Wild Maa”, “Leu”, “Vogel Gryff” and “Ueli” link Grossbasel to Kleinbasel. They are attached to a long wire cable and are driven purely by the current of the Rhine itself. The little ferry didn't have any trouble crossing the River.

The ferries will silently bring you to the opposite shore all year round. Experience the way in which time seems to stand still during this brief crossing.

The Münster ferry Leu operates between the bridges Wettsteinbrücke and Mittlere Brücke. If you travel from Kleinbasel to Grossbasel on the Münster ferry, you will enjoy the best view of the Basel Cathedral (Münster). If you don’t want to climb the numerous steps to the Pfalz, just stay on the ferry and head back to the Kleinbasel shore.

Together with the Mittlere Brücke, the Basler Münster (Cathedral) is probably the most famous landmark in Basel. With its red sandstone walls, colorful roof tiles and twin towers, no other building adorns the cityscape of Basel like the Cathedral.

The Münster Cathedral, a former episcopal church, was built between the years 1019 and 1500 in the Romantic and Gothic styles. The crypt, the chancel, the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Gallus gate and the two cloisters are witness to a fascinating tale of construction over a period of several centuries.

Its 12th-century Gothic cathedral has city views and contains the tomb of the16th-century Dutch scholar, Erasmus. The city’s university houses some of Erasmus’ works.

The main front which points at the west is bestrided by two towers. The northern tower is called Georgsturm (64.2 m) and the southern tower is called Martinsturm (62.7 m). The towers are named after Georg and Martin, saints of the knights. Copies of both saints are portrayed by corresponding equestrian sculptures next to the main entrance upon high pilasters below the particular towers.

After a heavy earthquake of 1358, the Münster, which originally had five steeples, was reconstructed with only two steeples remaining. At the older Georgsturm, the lower brighter part that has remained untouched, can still be seen. In 1500 a gorgeous finial was put on top of the Martinsturm. By using the steep spiral stairs in the southern steeple it is possible to see the old church clock from 883. The belfry is situated in between the two steeples which are connected through a gallery. Georgturm and Martinsturm can both be accessed by 242 stairs. From there one can get an overwhelming view of the city of Basel and the foothills of the Black Forest and the Jura Mountains.

St. George slaying the dragon

An empty column, which originally carried a statue of the Virgin Mary, is situated between the doors of the main porch. As it is typical of many other Gothic church porches, the tympanum above is likely to have depicted the Last Judgement. Both were destroyed during the Reformation Era. In contrast, the curvatures depicting prophets and kings, roses, dancing angels and Abraham have been preserved.

The benefactors Henry II and his wife, Empress Kunigunde, are portrayed left of the main porch. In the portrait, the emperor, depicted as a surprisingly young and beardless man, is carrying a church model in his arms, which identifies him as the benefactor. Only after the renovation of the exterior (1880 – 1980), the empress was given a cross as another symbol of identification. Originally, she was carrying gloves.

Beautiful how the light shines on the knight.

Light of peace. Prayers for the people of Ukraine.

I wrote many prayer intentions. Their names will be read tomorrow during the noon mass. I also lit candles for family and friends.

The piazza in which the Cathedral stands is today a popular meeting place and is often used for concerts and events.

The Pfalz - the terrace offering wonderful views over the Rhine - is one of the most popular viewpoints in the city.

Interesting to have this model for people whom are blind.

The Pfalz viewing terrace in Basel offers fantastic views over the Old Town and as far as the border triangle.

The word “Pfalz” is derived from the Latin word “Palatium”, meaning “palace”. The terrace high above the Rhine and behind the Münster Cathedral is so-called because it is situated close to the location in which the former palace of the Bishop once stood. On one side of the viewing terrace are steps that lead down to the landing jetty of the Münster ferry. On the other side there is a small gateway leading to the quiet cloisters of the Cathedral. Here you will find richly decorated gravestones of members of prominent Basel families from the 16th to 19th centuries.

Two military helicopters kept buzzing the area around the Rhine. There was a huge police presence, too. We later found out they are having a cantonal congress starting tonight and lasting for a few days.

police boat, too


It was terribly humid today. Used the fountain to try and cool off.

The city model on the Kleinbasel bank of the Rhine depicts a 1:500-scale section of the Old Town around the cathedral on the other side of the river. Various buildings and squares in the model are also labelled in Braille.

In summer, the Kleinbasel banks of the Rhine are the place to be! You can put your clothes in a "Wickeltisch" swim bag and simply float down on the gentle current through the picturesque Old Town.

Swimming in the Rhine is Basel’s most popular sport in summer. I think it would be fun to do as the locals do and experience an extra-special leisure activity. The brightly colorful Wickelfisch – a swim bag in the shape of a fish which was invented in Basel – will keep your clothes and valuables dry. It is available in a variety of colors and sizes.

No large ships of any kind on the Rhine.

The cruise ship that goes from Amsterdam to Basel was docked

The Spalentor(Gate of Spalen) is the most magnificent and impressive of the three city gates still remaining from the city fortifications dating from 1400. In times gone by, many important supplies and provisions entered the city through this gate having arrived from Alsace. Its square main tower, flanked on each side by two round towers, would have been seen long before arriving at the gates of the city. The façade facing away from the city is also decorated with three figures dating back to the 15th century - the Madonna and two prophets. We had a late lunch/early dinner at the Zum Gifthüttli.

"Over a hundred years ago, the owner of "Zum Ritter St. George" dared to serve to start serving beer in his pub as well. This had solely been the breweries' business. The Basler Nachrichten announced "Beer not consumed at the brewery is poison". To which the owner responded by renaming his pub, the poison. The is why the name Gifthüttli. The Gifthüttli is a historical and one of the best known restaurants in Basel. Traditional interior wood paneling, combined with decorative ornaments creat a typical "Basler Beize" atmosphere. Carved in faces keep guard above the table of truth and the beams still hold words of wisdom from the past.

We had lunch at the Boulevard Terrace. This restaurant is famous for its cordon bleus made with either veal or pork. Many people claim they are the best in town.

Cute little coasters

I had the Florentiner: filled with spinach, ham and cheese, with a fried egg on top. I soaked the spätzle in the gravy.

Michael had the Schweizer: filled with Bündner ham and Raclette cheese, in bread crumbs

We both had spätzle (Swabian noodles) with it.

Michael and I both thought the meal was better than last year. Wonderful looking meat in the window of the butcher shop. Extremely expensive though. The US dollar and the Swiss France are pretty close in value so when you calculate, think of it the same value. 100 grams is a quarter of a pound. So, take the price and multiply by 4. That is an expensive one pound steak.

As I said earlier we have been having hazy, hot and very humid weather. After we finished our walk along the Rhine, we wanted to take the tram from Marktplatz back to the main train station. Marktplatz has seven tram lines crossing the square. It is one of the most important tram hubs in the city. Unfortunately, all the trams were prohibited from entering the area due to the congress meeting starting very soon. Luckily we only had to walk two or three blocks to catch a tram outside the area. It was too hot to walk the additional 2.2 miles.

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