SO, nearly a month after myself and Lovely One travelled there, and some weeks after I posted about the frankly unsettling Fasnacht tradition of chasing each other round the streets in marching band gangs (it’s sort of like The Warriors only not quite as deadly… I hope), here’s a roundup of our trip to Basel.
For those of you not in the know, Basel nestles in the foot of the Alps, smack bang on the Rhine and tucked into a corner of Switzerland which meets both France and Germany. The city is this tiny medieval heart surrounded by tons of pharma companies and has this charming old-school meets bustling eurocommerce feel to it. It’s the home of ancient tradition and the annual “Baselworld” festival of fancy watches. So… yeah, it’s an odd one.
“But Lewishambles!“, I hear you cry, “why the heckins would you travel to Basel on a whim?” Ah, dear reader. For you assume that there is method in the madness, bless you. In fact, Lovely One announced that he was going to a conference in Basel some months ago, so I excitedly booked some flights only for him to announce a month later that he wasn’t going to go anymore. Whoops. He’s just informed me of a speaking engagement in Hamburg next year… but I’ll wait a bit before I lose my shit and book all the Beatles tours ahead of time.
We arrived late on the friday and were shown to our Airbnb which, once again, was impeccable. Lord knows I’ve suffered from dodgy hotels and bednbrekkers in my time, but I’ve yet (touch wood) to suffer a truly horrid Airbnb experience. The charming Gillian met us with her boyfriend Stefan and showed us to the most gorgeous airy flat in the east side of the city. From there, we set out to explore the city over the next few days. Below are some of the shots (most of which were taken on my lovely new camera which is SUPER SWEET and idiot-proof, which goes to show that technology is a wonderful thing indeed).
The other stuff…
Top tips for Basel:
1. It’s gorgeous in springtime. Get the right weather and you have the breezy chill air of the Alps meeting warm glowy riverside weather and it’s lovely.
2. Take lots of cash. Switzerland rightly has a rep for being really pricey and it’s not helped by the fact that the exchange rate shenanigans of the last year has meant that lots of residents suffered an effective salary cut of 20% when they unpegged the Swiss Franc (CHF) from it’s rate of EUR1.20 and it fell overnight. We ended up making food at the flat which was a marvellous idea in any event. But weirdly, for a country renowned for it’s prowess with banking, it’s like NOWHERE takes cards. I’m serious. Most bars and clubs won’t even consider it, and so you have the worry of needing loads of cash (because it’s expensive) and having to carry it all about because every time you whip out your card you get a mournful look followed by “kein kartmachin, entschuldigung” (ostensibly “no card machine, sorry” but delivered with all the disdain I normally reserve for people who accidentally fart in lifts).
3. Basel is a university town, so take some tips from the locals about finding the best places for a drink. We tried some of the recommended places online but found them really overpacked and sort of grim. Whereas some of the places off the beaten track were really fantastic. The fabulous Alpenblick on Klybeckstrasse was a first-night revelation and we’d never have found it without recommends from Gillian and Stefan.
4. Walk. You might think that you’ll need to use the trams, but Basel’s a pretty small town and a beautiful one at that. You’ll get loads more out of walking along the river and up and down the pretty streets than whizzing by in the trams.
5. Chocolate. Cheese. Ham. Switzerland does all these things SUPERLATIVELY. make sure you get your fill. There is no room for your macrobiotic bullshit here.
All in all? An unexpected joy, a great weekend and a new favourite.