On Tuesday Dan had meetings all day, so I was once again on my own to explore. This time I left the room when he did, going so far as to take the tram with him to work before heading off on my own. There were a couple of things in particular that I wanted to check out, and then I’d just see whatever came my way afterwards.
I have a strange fascination with the public fountains found throughout Switzerland. I love the fact that cold, clean water flows out of them for anyone to use at any time. I don’t understand why anyone would buy bottled water with this treasure available to them. But my friends had teased me that I had only shared one photo of a fountain so far, so I made it a point to take a picture of as many of them as I could find that day.
I was now on the north side of the Rhine, so I walked along it between two of the main bridges and took pictures of the town. The Herbtmesse (Fall Fair) was going to take place the next weekend and crews were busy setting up the carnival rides and tents. The ferris wheel was slowly being constructed as I watched.
The shore of the Rhine
Showers are provided for those who enjoy floating down the river
You can see the half-wheel to the right of the church
There are four ferries that cross the Rhine. Each one is attached to a cable and uses only the current and a rudder to cross back and forth. We did not try one on this trip, but figured that we should leave something for later.
Close up of the fountain above
Swiss Brewery. These are surprisingly rare.
It finally dawned on me that the lower pool area would be used by horses
Swiss humor. WC located to the right
I had made my way back along the Rhine, crossed over to the Alt Stadt and the Marktplatz. I was surprised to see it in full swing in mid-week.
This time while in the Marktplatz I took the time go into the Rathaus. This is the big red building that I had taken pictures of previously. I had heard that there were some very nice frescos inside.
Inside the Rathaus
Out of curiosity, I had gone online the previous evening to see what the apartment market looked like. Much to my surprise, I almost immediately found something that seemed to be perfect for us. Naturally, it made no difference, as we wouldn’t be looking for a few months yet and this was available now. But it would be fun to see where it was, so I now I set off along the Rhine, walking parallel to the morning’s walk. But before I went to the river, I had to pass by the Muenster, so I took some more pictures.
Passing through Muensterplatz where the ferris wheel was being constructed
It really is quite large
Underneath the church
Almost like a trophy room, this area next to the church held nothing but fancy plaques of important people from years gone by
Re-setting the cobblestone
They think of everything
I finally returned to the river just in time to see a freighter coming up stream
Its probably safe, but I didn’t take any water from here
My funny story for the day: I had been watching the freighter come up the river and had noticed this small door set into the very high stone wall. The doorway was tiny, with maybe a 5′ clearance. I didn’t think much of it, until it opened and these three gentlemen climbed out of it.
They stood there talking for a couple of minutes, one of them gesturing around the area, and then they retreated from whence they came.
It had either rained the previous night or there was a very heavy dew. This was the second day of less-than-perfect weather, but I was enjoying the cooler temperatures as well as the lack of harsh shadows caused by a full sun. This plant really caught my eye by how delicately it held onto the water droplets.
Not all stone is real
Part of the original city wall
The wall and buildings behind it.
By now it was lunch time. I went to a Coop (local grocery store chain) and bought a chef salad, a roll and some grapes. I eventually found a quiet bench to sit on and ate my lunch near one of the three city gates.
Evidence of the city wall
They even include a fork/spoon!
As I caught a tram for a quick ride back to the hotel, I was able to get one more picture of some school kids. I really liked the reflective do-dads that they wear when walking through the public streets
Wednesday, our last day in Switzerland. It was one of those awkward days, where the train left mid-day, so nothing could really be done in the city other than buy some chocolate for friends and family back home and pack our bags. And then sit around. We had lunch at a delightful bakery across the street from the hotel and then took an early train into Zurich.
So what did we think about Basel and life in Switzerland? It would be difficult, to be sure. Neither of us speak German with any level of comfort and while one could get by as a tourist, life itself would be difficult and lonely from day to day. The laws and rules are as-of-yet not understood by us and it would take some time to gather them together, probably learning via “trial by error” along the way. The costs for common goods were higher than we currently experience, but nothing that was outrageous. We don’t tend to be very good consumers as it is, so “not buying” something over there wouldn’t be that difficult. And my only real complaint from the entire trip: the high number of people who smoke. I am amazed that a culture that prizes its natural resources and clean energy would be so wanton with their own (and other’s) health and comfort.
But the people that we interacted with were fantastic, and the idea of an enjoyable stroll along the Rhine or through the Marktplatz after work is pleasant. The traffic in the city itself is incredibly well-behaved and the pedestrian truly is king. Bicycle transportation is popular and appears to be safe and also well regarded. Honestly, there are too many little tidbits of goodness that simply add up to “Yes! We would love to live here!” for me to attempt to list them here. We both felt good about the idea of living there, and came back to New Jersey full of excitement on getting the ball rolling.
The Alps, floating in a sea of clouds
Chasing the sun