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Beautiful town this time of year

sunny 5 °C
View Basel on kmclean's travel map.

This past weekend we didn’t want to stray too far with school actually getting into full swing, but we couldn’t resist taking just a little trip. We spent Friday night in Basel, and for a small city it really has a lot to offer. It’s a really neat city because it lands right on the point where Germany, France, and Switzerland meet. It’s just too bad the city is in Switzerland; that makes it so expensive! It’s really well connected to the French, German, and Swiss rail lines and easyjet flies in and out to quite a few destinations, so we always end up just passing through and this time we figured it’d be worth a stay. We spent the night with a couchsurfer and had another great experience.

The first day there we just started wandering around a bit and we came across the “Basler Weihnachtsmarkt” – Christmas market. Christmas markets here are a big deal I guess, and every village has one. They sell mostly crafts and treats rather than vegetables like the regular markets, which still go on during the Christmas market season. The Basel one was really great, although expensive. We enjoyed some glühwein there and then went on to the Basler Kunstmuseum. It’s a really fantastic art gallery. It’s three and half floors of the most amazing art; masterpieces from the 15th century all the way to the modern “Arte Povera” work, which I have to say I didn’t really understand. Either way, it was a great experience and definitely a “must-see” in Basel.

The next day we went out for a $6 coffee then ate our packed lunches on the water. We quickly figured out why there was one else around – as soon as we dropped a crumb a pigeon would come, and then another, and within a few minutes there were dozens of them. A few minutes later the sea gulls came, and that’s when we took off, finishing our sandwiches on the go. That day we went to the Basel history museum, which is in an old church in old town. The city/national history museums are always my favourite, because you learn so much about the place you’re visiting.
Another neat thing about Basel, and I think Switzerland in general, is the language. Swiss German is quite a bit different than “standard” or “high” German, and when the locals realized we don’t speak Swiss German, they started speaking to us in English rather than high German. We were talking to our host who had been living in Basel for a while about it, and he said it’s pretty common in Switzerland for English to be someone’s second language after Swiss German, rather than standard German. It’s even more common to be spoken to in French before high German once they realize you don’t understand. It’s a weird thing about German – nobody actually speaks it. Everyone has their own local dialect.

For a small place Basel has a lot to do and is really well connected. Overall we had a great time in Basel, and I’m sure we’ll be back again before the year’s over, hopefully not just passing through!

Here are the pictures.

Posted by kmclean 20:16 Archived in Switzerland Tagged art museums markets cathedrals christmas basel couchsurfing

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