Monday, April 28, 2014

Exploring Switzerland: A Day in Basel

A few weeks ago, Matt and I spent a sunny, warm spring Sunday exploring a new Swiss city: Basel. Located just 85 kilometers northwest of Zurich, a quick 45 minute train ride, Basel straddles the Rhine near Switzerland's borders with France and Germany, both of which you can see from downtown Basel. Alsace, France, where they make very tasty sweet white wines, is just a short drive away. 
Sundays in Switzerland are always quiet, and since we brought Henry with us we were unable to explore Basel's excellent museums (including the largest Kunst museum in the country), but we did lots of walking and exploring. After a quick coffee, we spent more of the morning strolling through the medieval Old Town. Winding streets are full of gorgeous old buildings. 

I loved the bright brick red Rathaus, town hall, and it's fantastic clock!

Basilisks, the "heraldic" animals of Basel, adorn buildings, statues and water fountains - like the one below. It's described as, "a cock with dragon's wings, the beak of an eagle and the tail of a lizard." Charming! You may be familiar with the mythical animal from its role in the Harry Potter series as the Serpent of Slytherin. 

The Old Town's Munster, a medieval cathedral, can be seen from the Rhine. The photos can't do justice to the tiled roof. It sparkled in the sunshine! Only after we finished exploring the cloisters did we see the "no dogs allowed' sign. Oops! No one seemed to mind Henry and he behaved well.

After the old town, we made our way down the broad walking path that follows the Rhine through the city. It was packed with people and pets. At an outdoor riverside cafe we shared paninis, pomme frites and tasty drinks. Matt had a Panache, a mix of beer and lemonade, and I had a champagne cocktail. Yum. What a nice change from sausages....

Our lunch view of the Rhine. Look at those narrow buildings stacked so closely together! Gotta squeeze out every bit of prime real estate. 

Overall, we loved Basel. It felt a bit older (is it?) and more colorful than Zurich. Students from nearby University provide youth and energy. Like Zurich, it's small, dense and easy to explore in a day, although we will be returning at some point to check out the museums.

The ability to hop on a train and, in less than an hour or two, be exploring a new city is by far the greatest perk of life in Switzerland. Henry is becoming quite a pro at taking the train. He spends most trips fighting sleep in favor of staring out the window. I think it reminds him of car trips in the states (without the wind in his hair!).

Clearly I am spoiled by the safety of Switzerland. I just leave my bag hanging open on the train seat!

Keep an eye on the blog for new posts coming soon, including new hikes around Zurich, our recent visit with Adam and Kim, and our upcoming trip to Ticino. Ciao!


  1. Very picturesque. I especially like the photo of the water.

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