Thursday, November 1, 2007

Basel - Our base at Switzerland

Basel is a pretty old city, dating back to pre-roman times. Located at the north west corner of Switzerland, pretty close to neighboring France and Germany.

Around the location where Basel is, Rhine curves around, forming a 'knee' like formation. I also thought the shape looks like the outline of a face.

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We had planned to make Basel our base for visiting Europe; it seemed to be well connected and somewhat at the center of the countries we had planned to visit. We had some friends at Basel where we could park ourselves for time to time. But at the last moment, there was a change in plan and we decided to also visit another friend at Zurich . Finally we spent only around four days at Basel from 29th Oct to 1st Nov, towards the end of our trip. Basel was still our base for all our trips in Switzerland.

We arrived from Rome to Zurich and after quite a bit of confusion and miscommunication, we collected our leftover luggage from our friend at Zurich and reached Basel. We went over to our friends place at Basel. Their's was an apartment near Ramada Plaza at Messeplatz.

After a hearty lunch we went out for a walk on the banks of the Rhine. The paved river banks had benches to sit and was really soothing. One could take a ride on one of the boats to the other side of the river. There were interesting sculptures on the banks, one being that of a tired traveler relaxing at the riverside (just like us) Helvetia gazing downstream in a contemplative mood. Helvetia is the mythical female personification of Switzerland. Switzerland is also called Helvetia sometimes; people into philately will know this well.

Basel is known for its contribution to technology & research. It is an important center for the pharmaceutical & chemical industry and is the home to the well known names Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche. It is also popular for arts. There is a well known art museum at Basel, though we did not get an opportunity to visit that.

Next was a visit to the Marketplatz (the marketplace). The ground at the marketplatz was paved with stones. The weekly Basel market was on that day and we could get a true flavor of Basel. There were stalls all over the place, opened by farmers and small businessmen. They were selling fresh farm produce; flowers, meat, vegetables, and countless varieties of cheese. One of the shopkeepers invited us to taste his cheese, hoping that we would buy some.

Dominating the market square is a red impressive building, which is the Town Hall. The town hall was built from the year 1504 to 1514, after Basel joined the Swiss Confederation in the year 1501.

Public transport in Switzerland is really very good. Basel city had a dense network of tram lines and very well connected tram service. Throughout our stay, we did not have to take any other mode of travel in Basel. The place where we were staying, Messeplatz, was hosting a fair for some days. Every evening, while returning from our trips, we watched kids taking rides and feasting on food from temporary stalls at the fair.

On the last days of our stay, we visited a couple of fine restaurants there. One of the Thai restaurants was particularly nice. Bowling after dinner was entertaining.


  1. great shots... like the statue lost in deep contemplation...

  2. @jitaditya That's the statue of Helvetia, gazing downstream in a contemplative mood. Helvetia is the mythical female personification of Switzerland. Switzerland is also called Helvetia sometimes. People into philately will know this well. More about it here:

    I realized this fact much after writing this post, and I should have updated it after that. But better late than never. Thanks!


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