basel, switzerland - old city + boozy picnicking on the rhine

Alex and I agree that the best part of living in Switzerland is... leaving Switzerland. Smack in the middle of Europe, there are so many opportunities to drive into the French countryside or a lake in Germany, or hop a flight to Budapest or Amsterdam or Rome, road-trip the Italian Riviera... the possibilities are endless. You'll rarely find us at home in Basel on a weekend.

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Maybe this is why I've never done a proper post on Basel. Or maybe it's because I spend 75% of my time here in Switzerland staring at my laptop while number-crunching for two jobs. Those would not be exciting pictures.

But every now and then someone will visit us here in Basel, giving us an excuse to walk the curvy streets of downtown, pop a bottle of wine while watching the sunset on the Rhine, and show off the Swiss scenery. One of my best and oldest friends came to crash for a few days, camera in tow, and taking in everything with her refreshed my fondness for this little city.

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Downtown Basel Switzerland

So, Basel is in Switzerland (shoutout to my family and friends who continually ask me, How is Sweden? Hashtag americans.), on the border of Germany and France. I mean, literally, directly on the border. We had to tell Sara that when she landed at the airport in Basel to make sure she took the exit into Switzerland, and not France or Germany.

There is an Italian part of Switzerland, a French part, and a German part. We live in the north, in the German part. When you buy something at the grocery store, the label is written in German, French, and Italian. When you go see a movie in the theater, the dialogue is in English, the subtitles are in German and French.

Switzerland is not part of the EU and uses the Swiss franc, not the euro, and has non-standard-European outlets. Also everything is $45,000. These things are annoying.

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Nice things about Basel: beautiful architecture. The city is bisected by the Rhine River, and in warm weather people flock to its banks with bottles of wine and snacks (drinking in public is legal and widespread in most of Europe). In the summer, you can swim in the Rhine, and it is amazingly fun, and free, which magnifies the fun (it is the only thing that is free in Switzerland. THE ONLY THING. Not that I'm bitter.).

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Downtown Basel Switzerland

Bikes at Central Station, Downtown Basel Switzerland

Hiking in Switzerland is AWESOME; from our house, you can walk for 20 minutes and suddenly be in the middle of massive farmland with public hiking trails full of runners, walkers, joggers, bikers, and dog-walkers. And the trails go on for ALL OF TIME. I spend a lot of time on these trails as a part-time professional dog walker of Betty the Boxer (third job).







Every day, I walk for 45 minutes to meet Betty Spaghetti (not her real name, though since you probably know that I had a pit bull named Sandwich, it is not surprising that I've given her this moniker). Every day, Betty is COMPLETELY SHOCKED and OVERCOME WITH JOY that I've shown up to take her for a walk.

Our traditional over-dramatic "reunion". Every day.


Betty's owner told me that she legally has to post this "beware of boxer" sign outside her house because, according to Swiss law, if no such sign is posted and a robber BREAKS IN to her house and tries to STEAL all of her awesome stuff, and is bit by Betty the dog, the robber can SUE Betty's owner. SWITZERLAND! You're whacky.



As astonished is Betty is to see me every day, she was 6,000 times more shocked when I showed up with ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Sara and Betty got along... "amazingly well" does not begin to describe it.

If you are curious about becoming a professional part-time dog walker in Switzerland yourself, here are the steps of what I do every day.

 Step 1 - Betty is walked.

Step 2 - Betty passes out in shade back home.

Step 3 - Ciao Betty! See you tomorrow! Time to go inside to wait for your Human to come home from work!

Step 4 - Betty does not come inside; sits defiantly.

After hours of coaxing and bribing which result in physically dragging Betty into the house (just kidding!), Sara and I were off to explore the Old City.

Old City, Basel Switzerland

Old City, Basel Switzerland

 
Old City, Basel Switzerland

Rathaus, Basel Switzerland
Peeking out from the interior of the Rathaus (city hall; fitting that the Swiss name for it is "rat house". Easy to remember, at least!) to the main square, Marketplatz

Rhine River from Muenster, Basel Switzerland




Old City, Basel Switzerland
We have many bikes.

Blending in.

Rathaus Basel Switzerland
The exterior of Rathaus / City Hall.

Marketplatz Basel Switzerland

Old City, Basel Switzerland


Old City, Basel Switzerland

Basel Rhine River, Switzerland


These shots were taken from one of my favorite spots in Basel, in the yard of Basel's red sandstone Cathedral on the Rhine. There is a beautiful view of Kleinbasel ('little Basel'), the other side of the city, as well as the Rhine and the Black Forest; on your left is France and straight ahead is Germany. Apparently this place has a name -- the Pfalz -- but I will continue to call it "the yard of the Cathedral," thanks.


Basel Muenster interior, Switzerland

Basel Muenster interior, Switzerland

Basel Rhine River view from the Cathedral

See the little boat there? These little guys -- the Swiss call them fährimaa -- are motorless, driven by the intense current of the Rhine. They take folks across the Rhine -- though there are also a number of bridges that you can cross by foot/bike/tram/bus. I'd never taken the ferry before, and Sara coaxed me into it -- which I am very, very grateful for!

Faehrimaa ferry on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland

Waiting for the ferry. True story, I only agreed to this because Sara promised to pay for us. Since this is Basel I assumed a ride would be, I don't know, 30 francs. I was shocked when it was 1.80 francs for a ride -- by far, the cheapest service or good I have ever, EVER seen priced in Switzerland. WHAT A DEAL.

Faehrimaa ferry on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland
Boarding... and very nostalgic for when I used to take the East River Ferry from Brooklyn to work in Manhattan every day.

Faehrimaa ferry on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland

Basel Rhine River, Switzerland


We landed safely on other side. Alex works on this side of the river and it was about quitting time, so he met us to watch the sunset.



Basel Rhine River, Switzerland

A lot of folks were out enjoying the nice day. Reminds me of how all of NYC used to gather in Central Park (the Manhattanites) or Prospect Park (the Brooklynites) with contraband bottles of Prosecco and plastic cups every Sunday morning.



Sara casually mentioned to us that she had a life goal of having a picnic on a river in 5 different countries, and if she had one in Switzerland, it would be her number five. Plans for the next night, done and done.

Basel at sunset from the Rhine

We packed up a cooler with sausages, meats, cheese, and wine. A good German meal.




Things got a little smokey with all the sausage. Alex manned the grill like the manly man he is, while Sara and I focused on the extremely important task of drinking all the Prosecco.

Directly prior to our Rhine party I had a fun run in with the law that resulted in a 100 franc ticket (for not buying a TRAM TICKET for my FREAKING BICYCLE. SWITZERLAND, WHY DOES MY BIKE NEED A TRAM TICKET.). So, I needed a lot of Prosecco. And hugs. I got very hugsy.



Only the finest, cheapest room-temperature grocery store Prosecco for Sara and I! My wonderful snobby Italian fiance took one look at the bottle and declared, "I wouldn't wash my feet with that stuff."

Prost!

Picnic on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland

Picnic on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland
Of course, we also had soft and chewy bretzeln (pretzels).

 "Girls and their Pretzels."

I am so in love with this girl. GORGEOUS.

Also this guy. HANDSOME.

 We did not nail this shot, Sara. Thank you, alcohol.

Picnic on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland


Picnic on the Rhine, Basel Switzerland

Basel nighttime, Rhine River, Switzerland

We stayed on the Rhine chatting until the sun went down and the cityscape was lit with soft golden light against the midnight blue sky. Sufficiently wasted, we stumbled into McDonalds to pee and buy Toblerone McFlurries, the only proper way to end the night in Switzerland.

And the McFlurries were probably only, like, 30 francs.

Basel nighttime, Rhine River, Switzerland

Basel nighttime, Rhine River, Switzerland

Many thanks to Sara for visiting and for many of these pictures -- they're all mixed up in my computer so I have no idea who took what. Probably if it is a well-composed, good picture, it is Sara's.

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