Friday, March 1, 2013

A Base in Basel

One of the few downsides of living in Berlin is that it is located waaay up in the corner of the country and it takes a little more time, money and effort to travel than our friends in the south. Luckily, we are adapting as we discover more discount airfares and alternate ways to travel. We still love train travel, but when I can fly to Naples, Italy for less time and money than I can get to Munich by train - my love for trains wains.

For my birthday this year, I wanted what I always want - travel. And I had an especially silly idea - roller coasters. Much to my surprise, I found the second largest park in Europe was in Southwestern Germany (after Disneyland Paris). How does this get us to Basel? After some dedicated internet searching, we found that flying into Basel was not only affordable from Berlin, it made more sense for the time & money than any of the other options. To the dreiländereck (three countries' corner) we go!

Rhine River Swiss

This was to be our first joint foray into Switzerland and we imagined the cliches of Alps and fatty rösti. We got some of that, and so much more.

Basel Ratings:

Ratings will be done in ricola. We saw a container of them at the grocery store and we were entertained. 


Bus stop in Basel Switzerland

3.5 Ricola

You can get around the city quite easily with their trams which are all in very nice condition, even with a couple older style classic trams. The only drawback is that prices are rather high BUT a young Swiss changed our trip (see below).

4 Ricola

Let's start with the bad. Ian didn't exactly have the address of the place we are staying. No problem - there is internet everywhere...right? We got off at the stop (he remembered that bit) and wandered around with all of our bags. A vague plan of finding an internet cafe unraveled because you can NEVER find those things when you are looking for one. The people we asked looked at Ian like he had 3 heads. Must have been the accent (those Swiss speak crazy!)

We eventually decided to try our luck downtown. At this point, I was displeased. Birthday trip not going well. Starbucks! Internet down. Wandered around for another 45 minutes. Tourist center - nope. Train station - uh uh. And then, finally, a signal from heaven. Or a fast food shop. Whatever. THANK YOU INTERNET. We finally had an address and made our way to our lovely AirBnB.
...nothing a drink couldn't fix.
cure for getting lost

So why the high score? It's not Basel's fault Ian's a bozo. And the system is generally efficient, clean, and we miraculously got our tickets paid for. For real. We were struggling to get the machine to take our card and it was steadfastly refusing as time to the tram's arrival ticked down. A girl saw us struggling and attempted to help. The machine continued it's resistance. At last, she pulled out her own card and bought our tickets.We protested and tried to pay her, but she said it was her good deed for the day. People of Basel - that was awesome.

Basel transportation


4 Ricola

AirBnB comes through once again! It was really cool staying in an apartment where normal Swiss people live This place was made up very nicely and had everything we needed. Building was really old, which you could tell form the features in the apartment which added a lot of charm.

Map and a shot
Let's do this Basel.

4 Ricola

Once we finally found the place, our room in a shared flat truly charmed us. The owners of the flat were out when we arrived, but arranged to have us pick up the key from their milk/mail box. That's right folks - milk box. A leftover from the days where people still had fresh milk delivered (as they should as Swiss dairy products are ridiculously delicious), the top slot accepts mail and a bottom box is where the milk (or junk mail) is placed. They also clued us in to the alternative scene, telling us about a pretty hipster cafe the guy worked in and recommending bars & restaurants. This is why staying with a local is awesome - all these groovy city tips we would never know otherwise.

Basel mail box

The place itself was truly lovely. All old wood, unique appliances, and ceramic coal heaters. The whole place was a Pinterest dream. And what little we saw of our hosts revealed them to be equally charming. The only drawbacks are that of any shared flat where we worried about being too loud and sharing a bath.


Rathaus Basel Roothuus

3 Ricola

A little short on sites, but the city itself was beautiful. The town hall and the cathedral were something to behold.

3 Ricola

When people heard we were heading to Basel they looked none too impressed. That's because the city isn't exactly loaded with sites. It's nice, has good museums, and coming in November allowed us to check out the plethora of Swiss Weihnachtsmarkt (Winter/Christmas Markets). And the Rathaus (town hall) is straight up gorgeous & fiercely red. But it isn't the showstopper some other cities are. This is a city I could imagine living in...if I could afford it. 

Swiss cities

4 Ricola

No meat November ended (yes, we really did that) when we rolled into the beer hall. A delicate and succulent bratwurst threw me back into the land of the carnivore, and the cheese rosti was as good as everyone says it is.

Basel Swiss Delicacies

Most definitely a bonus being there for winter markets where we got tiny quiches and big pieces of meat on sticks.

Basel Christmas Market Food


Quiche in Basel

Another advantage of coming during the Christmas markets is the Christmas market food. Look at this quiche. ----------- >
Perfection. Absolutely adorable perfection. And Ian liked his meat on a stick. Of course. 

Our first "big meal" out at Restaurant Zum Braunen Mutz underwhelmed me with the lentils, but made up for it with the best bratwurst ever. Seriously. I never thought I would describe a sausage as soft and think that was a good thing. But it was. So good.


3.9 Ricola

Basel was a really great city and I could totally see living here. Nothing negative to say at except for the price. Have to give it .1 less than Bern because I definitely like Bern better.

3 Ricola

While the cost of living in Switzerland has gone down in recent years, it is still bloody expensive. Not inexhaustibly so, even for cheapskates like us, but it is a pricy. I did love the Swiss-ness of all it all. The orderliness, potatoes & meats, and ease to maneuver.

We only got a glimpse of life in Basel and if could manage it- it seems like a great place for a nice life with a surprising alternative edge.

Swiss Fountain

Beer in Basel

Swiss European Tram

Cannabis tea
Cannabis tea anyone?

Basel Fountain
Switzerland and it's fountains

Swiss Christmas Markets

If you want to hear more about lovely Switzerland, I highly recommend our day trip to Bern - City of Fountains. And for more pics, our Basel photo album on Facebook. Or to hear about more of our travels, check out Where We Been, Where We're Going or simply click on the "ratings" tab below this post.


ifs ands Butts said...

I've passed through the train station a dozen times, but never seen the city! I'll have to get out and explore some day

~ cheryl said...

Hey there - Hadn't realized you had a no-meat November. How'd that work out? Reason why? Loved your Ricola descriptions of Basel.

ebe porter said...

Do get off the train Butts! It was a the perfect base for us to move around, but the city had a pretty sweet alternative scene that made me think it'd be fun to stay a while.

Hey Mutti - This is our 2nd year doing meatless November. Impressed? You shouldn't be. We abandoned it in Switzerland. Just trying to be more inventive in our cooking and cut down on the lbs that always seem to add up over the holidays

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008