Over the years, I have stored all the memories from trips in my heart. Every once in a while, for one reason or another, I think about my travel experiences. I see articles from the places I have been, or advertisements from countries I once went. Then, all those memories come back. Many times I have been thinking about writing them in my blog. That is why I started a new series, called Monday Memories. Every Monday, I will share a story from my past travels. My first memory is from Basel, Switzerland, from six years ago. Have you ever been to Basel?
A long weekend in Basel, Switzerland
It is the year 2010. My fiancé has just been visiting me in Finland, and on his way back to California, he is going to stop in Switzerland to meet a client. After a few days, I decide to fly to Switzerland to spend a long weekend in Basel with him. There are no direct flights from Helsinki to Basel, so I have a lay over in Berlin. As a great surprise, I will be treated with a glass of champagne and an orchestra by the gate. For a minute, I am wondering if I somehow managed to sneak into a VIP lounge, but no, I have just purchased a ticket to the very first AirBerlin flight from Berlin to Basel. Awesome! In the airplane, we get more gifts. Chocolate, teddybears and other little souvenirs. Can I start my trip in any better way than this?
In the evening I arrive to dark Basel, and I jump into a taxi cab which takes me to our hotel. I am excited to explore the city the next day. My fiancé will be working, but at least we get to spend some time together in Basel on the weekend. It is February, and Switzerland is grey and rainy.
During our few days in Basel we manage to see all the major sights in the town and also treat ourselves with to some good food. Basel is the third biggest city in Switzerland, and is located where the Swiss, German and French borders meet. There are about 170,000 people living in Basel. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit where the three borders meet, but we did fall in love with Switzerland and would like to return someday to visit other cities too.
Walking around Basel, you can not avoid seeing history everywhere, and you should visit the medieval town. Spalentor, the Gate of Spalen is one of the three city gates, that used be part of the wall that surrounded the old town. It was built after the 1356 earthquake.
One of the biggest prides of Basel must be the Basel Minster (Basler Münster). I walked over one day, and the next day I returned with my fiancé since I thought it was something he would enjoy seeing. We climbed up all 242 steps up to the bell tower. Up from the tower you can get the most beautiful view over Basel and the river Rein. The church itself was undergoing a restoration, so outside was covered with scaffolding, but the inside of the church was beautiful. Basel Minster was built between the years 1019 and 1500, and it follows the Romanesque and Gothic styles. Erasmus of Rotterdam, the well known Dutch humanist, was buried inside the church. The church can be found in Münsterplatz, Basel.
RATHAUS and the marketplace
You should definitely visit the market place (Marktplatz) in the old town. They sell all kinds of local produce. We bought some cheese which we ate later with some bread and red wine. The most impressive building here is definitely the city hall, Rathaus. It was built after the big earthquake which devastated Switzerland in 1356. The massive decorations go all thru the inner courtyard and to the lobby, so make sure you visit when the building is open.
MUSEUM OF history
History is a big part of Basel and you can learn more about it in the Museum of History, Historisches Museum Basel. While my fiancé was working, I visited the museum and after that I was able to see the town with a whole different set of eyes. The museum is located in Barüsserplatz, Basel.
On one of the rainy days, we spent in the Museum of Art. It has the most extensive art collection in Switzerland, including some pieces from Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Chagall. We also like a lot the work of Arnold Böcklin who is a local artist. The Kunstmuseum Basel is at St Alban-Graben 16, Basel.
Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky was put up in 1989. It is a 13.5 meters high art work, and its arm moves while it hammers. These hammering men you can also find in Frankfurt and New York. We were told, that the hammering man is the most hard working man in Basel. You can find it in Aescgenplatz, Basel.
This bizarre building was designed by architect Mario Botta. We did not go inside since it is a bank building, but if you want to see it from outside, it's address is Aeschengraben, Basel.
An old theatre of Basel once operated on this spot. In 1977 Jean Tinguely designed a fountain with moving statues in it. There are a total of nine statues, and I must say, it was very unique! Go check it out at Theaterstrasse, Basel.
We enjoyed our short vacation in Basel. We got to see most of the places in Basel but would love to travel back to explore other cities in Switzerland. On our last night we dined in a fine dining restaurant, award winning Gasthof zum Goldenen Sternen. It was nice! The food was good but not spectacular. We really didn't have any complaints but the dessert was the only food I still remember after a while. I mean, look at this plate!