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Travel to Basel, Switzerland


Basel “the city where three countries meet, and the cultural capital of the European 21st century” This morning I woke up at 6:30 am from noise pollution (courtesy of thundering rain storm) and frigid cold. I have heard in the last few days that Toronto is blisteringly hot (and tell every Swiss person I meet, to faces full of horror). On the other side of the world (here) it is cold. It reminds me of Thanksgiving weekend, which is my favorite. I sat around the apartment eating three of the six pack Nestle yogurts which I enjoyed thoroughly and read a bit hoping for the rain to let up. When it did, I got to the train station in a hurry (sporting my new hoody and brown slacks) off to Basel. Basel finds itself in a junction between three countries. It lies within the borders of Swiss Land but also conjoins with Alsace France and the Black Forest Germany. The city is known for its pharmaceutical companies, but also for its over 56 art galleries! It is the place in the country for cultural excitement. Throughout the year there are many different festivals and I decided to spend my last day in Switzerland here, wining and dining at a chique restaurant and strolling through galleries a plenty.

When I arrived in Basel it was pouring rain, I walked into the tourism office to get some helpful hints and a map. I walked out in search for Atlantis, a famous restaurant in the heart of the city known for its wild and modern interior and menu (at 11pm this high end restaurant turns into a disco, how cool is that). I find the spot, drenched wet and I see a big sign that says “closed today sorry”. I almost cried and looked up at the menu to find some really interesting dishes including ostrich, kangaroo and chocolate stuffed quail. I decided to forgo this early lunch and did a whirl wind tour of the city. I first stopped at the Munster Cathedral just across the way and then walked to the famous Kunstmuseum Basel. The gallery is amazing. The best in the country and has a shocking supply of famous works. The museum has the worlds largest collection of works by the Holbein family (interesting fact). The first floor is the old stuff including; Holbeins “Erasmus of Rotterdam writing” and Cranachs “The Judgement of Paris”. My favorite Swiss artists were Bocklin (fantasy scenes) and Segantini (cow bells and alp landscapes). There was a wide range of Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, Courbet, Degas, Renoir, Mone and Manet. The top floor has a fantastic collection of modern art, including a ridiculous number of brilliant Wassily Kandinskys. The two that caught my eye were Osakar Kokoschkas “The Tempest” and the famous Swiss sculptor Giacometti’s several bronze thin little figures.

I walked into the rain and to the Markplatz where a huge outdoor market was going on. I bought an amazing (and expensive) olive and sun dried tomato loaf called “Napolifladeu”. I walked further up the street to the final landmark called “Spalentor” which is a castle that was built right over the street (somewhat like an elaborate medieval gate that cars drive under to and fro). I walked back to the train station and grabbed the next train to Freiburg Germany.

 

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