When we arrived in Basel, it was cold and foggy, so instead of walking around the city, we headed straight to the Art Museum. We had exactly an hour before it closed to peruse the 20th century collection as well as breeze through the medieval collection. So, it was a quick visit, but a lot of interesting art. For dinner, we stumbled upon an interesting place. It was definitely old fashioned. I felt like I walked into the 1950’s upon entering the place. Aside from some interesting hair dye-jobs and hair dos, I think we were the youngest people in there. The other young couple next to us ordered Steak Tartare, something that is all too rare on menus in the US anymore. To prepare this, the chef came out with two plates, each with a patty of ground beef and a raw egg yolk atop. He also brought his various tubes of condiments, something that made the “prepared in front of you” experience a little less fancy, for he would take the tubes of various mustards etc and just “squirt” them into a bowl, as you would a tube of toothpaste…
The next day, while T was busy with a tour of Novartis, a large pharmaceutical company, I walked the city. It was another glorious sunny day, which definitely made the 4-5 hours that I walked very pleasant. Walking through Basel was a little like walking through Zurich, with the cobblestoned alleys and cute side streets with shops, confisseries, watch stores, antiques..you name it. The thing that I loved about Basel that I have yet to have found in any other city that we have visited, is the presence of SIGNS!! There were signs everywhere with arrows to point you in the direction of the museums, sights, the SBB train station…it was great. I barely had to use my map. They even had special self guided walking tours, where you followed the picture of some historic character, with the arrows pointing in the direction of the tour. I had grand plans to see a couple more museums, including the Paper Mill Museum and also the Jean Tinguely Museum , but both were closed! Instead, I was able to see some historic city gates and walls, some churches, parks and the many stores that had started hyping the annual Basler Fasnacht , a huge festival and celebration that takes place for three days following Mardi Gras. Basel was a neat city yet its people seem a little reserved. This could be in part to the little cloud of controversy that hangs over, regarding a few specific banks in the city and their role in laundering money that the Nazi's stole from the Jews and other persecuted groups.
For more stories on Switzerlands "Not-So-Neutral" role in World War II Click Here
Fun fact: Did you know that Basel lies at the point in Switzerland where Germany, France and Switzerland all meet?