Saturday, October 12, 2013

Basel Switzerland

Basel or Basle [pronounced Baa-zel or Baal depending on the German or French version] is a city at the tip of Switzerland, France and Germany. The City has an airport which is known as the Europort which serves Basel, Mulhouse and Freiburg. The Airport while located in France has two exits one into France the other into Switzerland. Now that Switzerland has joined the Schengen, this is academic. Of course Basel has two train stations a Swiss one and a German one. You can buy train ticket to travel from Basel to Strasbourg on the French railway network or on the Swiss railway network. If you want to really get anal about it, you could sit with a calculator, exchange rates and work out which is the cheaper ticket.

Why Basel? Simple, we wanted to go to Strasbourg and the only airport to get to Strasbourg was Basel. So we thought why not stay for a few days in Basel too. Basel is a nice city. It has two very independent sides to it. One side is the old town, the University and the river, all very pretty and charming. The other side is the industrial side. This has the huge exhibition grounds. The world’s largest Jewellery and Watch fairs are held in Basel. Not only this, many of the large pharmaceutical and chemical companies are headquartered in Basel – Roche, Ciba, Sandoz, Novartis, Syngenta and Clariant are some of them. Of course Ciba and Sandoz do not exist now following a series of mergers but the offices and people still do. Swiss Air is located here as is UBS Bank.

The Old Town from a bridge along the Rhine

We had three nights in Basel. The old town is quite nice. Lots of narrow streets very pretty shops and restaurants all typically Swiss. Extreme cleanliness and orderliness all around. It struck me that every small town or village in England whether it is the Hampstead Village in London or a York or Bath all would like to be like Basel. Very very pretty, very exclusive, very expensive.

The charming streets in the Old Town

I have no idea whose statue this is. Just looked good.

The Marktplaz square which is the centre of Basel has the distinctive red Rathaus is its centre. The grand Munster Cathedral is located off the square a short distance away. Narrow cobbled, pedestrian only streets lead to all the tourist places and the steep slopes are a good work out. The main shipping streets lead off from the square. All this is very pretty. We also took some tram and bus rides using the ‘Mobility Ticket’ that comes with each hotel booking.

The Rathaus

Inside the Rathaus

The Shops along the Marktplaz

The Munster Cathedral

A doorway on the buildings along the Munsterplaz - the square outside the Munster

Basel also has some really top class museums. The Kunst Museum is wonderful. It has a modern are collection that is excellent. A special show on Mondrian was on and we went to see this. There was also the Tinguely Museum that we saw. He, to put it loosely, was a sculptor and his works are described as sculptural machines or Kinetic Art. Many of his works are displayed, in working condition at a Museum dedicated only to him. If you are in Basel you absolutely must visit these two museums.

One of Jean Tinguley creations in the lawn outside the Museum

Anothe Tinguley fountain on Elisabethstrassse

Basel does not have the total charm and beauty or even the seriousness of Zurich. But it is an important city with a bit of everything. Not an essential visit, need not be on a bucket list, but not a waste of time or money. 

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