Now from Zürich it takes only about 53 minutes to reach Basel where I will meet my friend!! This was a reunion like no other. I live in Vienna, Austria. My friend lives in Geneva, Switzerland. We meet at Basel, Switzerland, enjoyed the city a bit and headed together to Strasbourg, France!
Now if you aren’t familiar with this area, you must first realize why this was a reunion like no other. Look how far Geneva and Vienna is in the first place!
Geneva (point A on this map) and Vienna (point E on this map) is at the very opposite end within each country. If one drove from Geneva-Basel-Zurich-Salzburg-Vienna, the Google estimates that it will take about 12 hours to drive the 1,087 km distance. The city of Strasbourg is located just 140km away from Basel, Switzerland. Plus both my friend and I would have to change trains at Basel anyway so that is why we decided to meet at Basel.
For this meeting, we decided to have a meeting point because we realized communication will be hard since we don’t have iPhones to rely on internet or the same country phones to text or call. (While her phone would be local being Swiss, for me coming from Austria, every message would be international roaming charge.) So we decided to do this in the old style where one will rely on patience and trust to make such reunion happen! Since we communicated a lot of the details earlier via email at home, our meeting wasn’t that dramatic – as in we didn’t have any problem. Though my train was slightly delayed, when I got to Basel train station I knew where I should expect her. As I passed through the crowds to reach our meeting point – Tourist Office Center at Basel Train station – our long email thread suddenly felt like it was turning into reality.
“OMG!!!!” Yes, it was real! There she was. We couldn’t help ourselves but screen with joy. Though the last time we saw each other was in May at DC, so pretty recently, the idea of reuniting again in Europe was still unbelievable. It felt surreal! In fact, our voices were becoming louder and louder that the tourist center people had to calm us down by shouting back at us “excuse me miss, please be quiet!” Opps, we said with a smile.
Now, with the Basel city map in our hand, we quickly made ways to the city center. While I have visited Basel before, the last time I was here it was a lot colder for it was during the Fall season. So it was really nice to see the blue sky and warm summer breeze in the air when we visited that day. I quickly retraced my memory and we found the city center. Half distracted to one another’s stories, we continued walking to discover the city and to update one another.
Now before I continue, let me add few basics about the city Basel.
Basel is not exactly a famous or a popular tourist destination within Switzerland. There are so many cities and places to visit within Switzerland than Basel that many often skip here or don’t even get to hear of it. Yet, because Basel is bordered with France and Germany as a Dreiländerecke (three countries’ corner), it is the gateway to the Swiss Jura mountains as well as to French Alasce region and Germany’s Black Forest. Within Basel, the old medieval town center is known to be beautiful. Several world-class art museums were built by famous architects. Perhaps that is why Basel is also rich in architecture old and new with various unique sites. It was also one of the 8th host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships. Because the Rhine curves right into the city and divides the town into two, you get to see a pretty good river view of the town.
The weather was perfect for us to enjoy a nice stroll within the city. So we decided to walk and to explore this small pretty city. These are some collection of photos I took during my time there on Saturday morning. (As you see the black dress person is me, and my friend is the one in pink!)
So what do I recommend to others who are traveling here? Again, my position is similar to my trip to Zürich. I would like to know how good the museums or few other areas to tell you what is better. But if you didn’t have much time, like myself, but still wanted to see what Basel was like, at least do the following: (a) take a walk around the city and enjoy the unique architecture and buildings, (b) check the main old town area, there is a farmers market, an old and very unique red building with a museum that I heard is worth checking out, and (c) make sure you try crossing over the Rhine river to get the opposite side of the city view. Or if you forget most of this, simply walk to the city center and enjoy what Basel has to offer! It’s cuteness and freshness may refresh you as most Swiss cities do!
Zürich had pretty interesting Swiss style architecture, but the ones you see in Basel are different again! For instance, while the main area stores look like this. If you turn around the corner you will see small alleys like the photo below this one.
Now this is one of my favorite photos I took at Basel this day. This is the famous market area surrounded by old Medieval town buildings. We were lucky to catch the Saturday morning farmer’s market in which the streets were full of fresh fruits and vegetables!
Now the city view from the Rhine river is a view not to be missed. Just on that bridge we took few photos to capture our memory there.
Even the Basel Train station looked cute in this unique form.
P.S. Now as a former local who used to live in Switzerland, there was one product in particular that I missed so much – dairy products! While I missed the ice cream, milk, chocolate, and yogurt from Swiss in general, there was one particular brand that I used to adore which is only accessible in Switzerland: the HEIDI products! Don’t be fulled by the picture and the name for it is really good, or at least I’m in love with it for I love yogurt. So my personal note to those who like dairy products, I suggest you to try the next time you are in Switzerland! It’s only sold at Migro grocery store. This one is yogurt but it also offers milk, flavored milk, and bacon even!
Again our two hours and a half at Basel ended quite soon. But we still enjoyed it! Despite our initial worries of a rain forecast, the clear blue sky already told us that today was going to be a good day. After tasting sweet Basel, we were ready to explore our final and ultimate destination – Strasbourg, France!!
Continue reading part 4 to learn what we found at Strasbourg, France!!