Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

The Swiss Escape, part 1: Basel

The reason why the previous entry was so short was because I didn’t have enough time to write, and I was preparing for my trip to…Switzerland! Yes, the Swiss trip has finally happened! I came back thinking I was the happiest girl alive ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh, I didn’t tell you I was going to Switzerland, did I? Well, last weekend I took two days off to embark on a journey to Switzerland, the land of chocolate, fondue, and army knives. What more, I had good company. My “chef” happened to be visiting me in Belgium during his summer vacation, so we figured, why not take a trip down to Switzerland? With a direct train from Ottignies to Basel, it really couldn’t get any more convenient.

So we went for four days. The point of entry was, as just mentioned, Basel, which borders France. The train trip from Ottignies to Basel was six hours, passing through Namur, Luxembourg, Metz, Strasbourg, and Colmar, among other cities. Actually, my original plan was just to visit Strasbourg and Colmar for a short weekend trip, but since chef was here and willing to travel with me, who could resist going to dreamy Switzerland? And it’s been my dream to travel to Interlaken with chef – more on that later – since early February, so it was really a blessing that it came true already, so unexpected too.

Back on topic, I didn’t know much about Basel before going there, but it was a mandatory stop from Belgium to Switzerland, for us at least. So then Basel became our first – and last – destination, and off we went into our Swiss escape.

Green trams in Basel. The hostel that chef and I stayed at gave us a card for free public transport during our stay, but unfortunately we checked in too late to fully take advantage of that. It was alright though, the Basel city centre was small enough to navigate on foot and probably more enjoyable on foot as well. Plus, it wasn’t smothered with tourists like Amsterdam, which made our walk so much more relaxing and pleasant.

Since chef is an artist, a visit to the Basel city museum was undoubtedly on our itinerary. I still don’t know how to recognize and appreciate good art, and this trip, with the museum visits (another one in Zurich, later), made me really reflect upon the implications on art, philosophy, and life. I’m not gonna go into that here because that’d be an entire post on its own. Anyway, we sat down in the courtyard in front of the museum after our visit to listen to some good ol’ live music. Seemed like these two elderly gentlemen were having heck of a good time jamming to the beat ๐Ÿ˜‰

A walk by the Rhine river on a sunny day with the soft breeze felt heavenly in a city like Basel. Looking into the river, we saw groups of people swimming in the Rhine or just floating with the current, bathed in the coolness of the water and the radiant beams of the afternoon sun. I bet chef would have loved to jump in there too, but we weren’t prepared for swimming. Next time, chef ๐Ÿ˜›

The Swiss seem to have an obsession with their national flag. They’re ubiquitous…literally! It’s rare to go one block without seeing at least one Swiss flag waving from a window or sticking out of a random corner.

Our wanderings eventually led us to a marketplace nearby the Rhine where we saw this gigantic building…and gigantic is not an overstatement! I had a hard time capturing the entire width of the building with my camera. As we didn’t know what this building was, and it was apparently not on the map (or we just didn’t find it then), we called it the “Red Building”, sort of an allusion to Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the most famous classic Chinese novels. Chef and I assumed that this was some sort of religious establishment, but we found out later that this is actually the Basel town hall. Impressive.

After some unsuccessful food hunt – or shall I say, unsuccessful hunt for CHEAP food – we ended up here on a ledge overlooking the Rhine. So yes, things in Switzerland are ridiculously expensive, as warned by my friends before I left, and it was no exaggeration. We eventually left this place, even though it had a grand view of the river, because there were people barbecuing meat right behind us, and we were way too hungry to stay there and suffer from the smell of tasty food…>_<

We caught a glimpse of the final moments of that night’s sunset nearby Basel train station, as the orange glow slowly disappeared behind the horizon like a dying amber flame burning passionately in the skyline, eventually fading into a distance. The sky was more than dramatic that night. It was truly a beautiful sight.

This picture was taken on the last day of our trip, when we had to drop by Basel again to catch the train back to Ottignies. In front of the Basel Historical Museum, an old man was sweeping crushed and flattened cans in a seemingly ordered pattern. My first thought was that it was some sort of art creation, and I asked chef whether he thought it was. Casually he said, “Bien sรปr” – Of course!

Day two is Interlaken, my primary motivation to go to Switzerland. Stay tuned!

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9 responses to “The Swiss Escape, part 1: Basel

  1. London Caller August 9, 2012 at 21:17

    I love Switzerland. Been there twice.
    But still haven’t done Basel yet.
    Early this year, I went to Geneva.
    Really love city.
    I also got the free transport pass from the hotel where I stayed!
    Really cool – Swiss are so generous, aren’t they?
    Bet you don’t get this in France or Belgium!
    Having said that, I do find food in Switzerland is a bit pricey…

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    • Annie Bananie August 10, 2012 at 23:49

      I love Switzerland too, so beautiful, but too expensive! I would go back next year, hopefully to Geneva and Lucerne at least. I’d love to bring my dad to Interlaken though, and the little villages around the area ๐Ÿ˜€

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  2. Mary August 17, 2012 at 22:36

    I loved Switzerland, too. Spent time in Zurich, Luzern and Basel and loved them all. I hope you make that trip to Strasbourg and would really recommend doing it in early December when it’s all decorated for Christmas and has the markets. It’s amazing! I’m be writing about it and posting pictures as soon as I can find the time….

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    • Annie Bananie August 18, 2012 at 00:43

      I would go back to Switzerland again if I have the chance in the future, hoping to visit Luzern, Geneva, and Lausanne, among many other destinations. Yeah, I’ve heard about the awesome Christmas markets in Strasbourg. Had I known about it last year I would have gone there instead of Cologne (though they were pretty impressive in Cologne as well). Maybe another time! Hope to see your post and pictures soon ๐Ÿ˜€

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      • Mary August 18, 2012 at 01:02

        Annie, I’ve heard the ones in Cologne are impressive. I went to Stuttgart last year and visited the markets near there. I stayed with friend’s near Karlsruhe for part of the trip and that’s when I did Strasbourg. Will try to get get those posts up with pictures by next weekend. Now I’m in the midst of planning Spain for this December and will see how some of their markets compare. ๐Ÿ™‚

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