Today we are in Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine River where Switzerland, Germany, and France meet. In fact some of the city’s suburbs are in these other countries. They speak their own dialect of German here. It is the country’s second largest economic center after Zurich. For some reason I thought this was going to be a sleepy little town, not a bustling city.
Keeping with the pattern, we went straight to the red sandstone Basel Munster, the local Cathedral. It was started in 1019 as a Roman Catholic Cathedral and is now a Protestant Reformed Church. On the facade, you can see where they have removed the uniquely Catholic symbols-there is an empty column where the Virgin Mary was originally depicted. Countless pieces of art were destroyed during the Reformation. The statutes are interesting and depict the benefactors, Henry II and Empress Kunigunde on one side and the seducer and the misguided virgin on the other. Damage and destruction-including an earthquake- has meant that the church has been remodeled several times and is built in both the Romanesque and Gothic styles.
Around the back we got a nice view of the Rhine River. A bronze model of the Basel Munster with braille is located there. There was a yet unopened Christmas market in the Munsterplatz. From the backside we had access to further exploration of the Munster grounds where we enjoyed the wonderful cloisters and an alternative view of the church with its large round window with the star of David.
After passing the Munsterplatz, site of an Roman fort, we continued along the Rhine. We had great views of the Mittlere Brucke, or middle bridge, which used to be the sole crossing bridge over the Rhine in Basel. It features seven arches and has been closed to vehicular traffic since 2015. The Mittlere Brucke was orgianlly constructed in 1226 and have been renovated several times. “A copy of the old bridge chapel, the so-called “Käppelijoch”, where in the Middle Ages convicted criminals were sentenced to death, was erected as a reminder of the original construction.” I had noticed the small structure, thinking it was a guardhouse. Its roof looks just like the roof on the Basel Munster.
We saw more of the half-timbered houses with upper stories that extended beyond the base story roof line. Historically, taxes were based on the land covered; a second story that jutted out a bit was untaxed space.
We arrived at the Marktplatz, the city’s main square where the farmer’s markets are held. During our visit it was a mix of produce and Christmas items. The square is dominated by the Rathaus (town hall). Built in the 16th century, the Rathaus is almost whimsical in nature. We came back after the tour to step inside the courtyard and see the beauty there. The colorful walls of the courtyard were originally painted in 1608-1611; they have been expertly restored.
From here, our guide showed us the locations of additional Christmas Markets, other shopping, museums, and our bus stop to return to the ship. There is also a tram stop that leaves us off right by the ship should we decide to venture out when the shuttles weren’t running. (I just didn’t hear about it until we were back at the ship.)
I need to get an extra suitcase for the return trip home. I didn’t buy that much, but was counting on sharing an extra full-size suitcase home with Emma and the small duffle bag I folded and brought with me from home wasn’t going to cut. Most of the large suitcase I brought with me was filled with things to keep me warm. Today, my plan was to do my touring, then get the suitcase, and finally take a later shuttle back to the ship.
If I needed something to eat, I knew just what I was going to get. I saw wonderful Bretzel-yes that is a B and not a P-sandwiches at a booth by the Rathaus on Marktplatz. The markets had wonderful whimsical decorations, fitting for a town with such a town hall. I didn’t find a lot to buy but enjoyed the sightseeing. This is the first city we are visiting that we can’t use euros. The Swiss have there own currently. They don’t take credit cards in these markets either-at least at the booths where I asked.
After I was pretty confident I had seen the markets, I went in search of that suitcase. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. Switzerland is an expensive place to shop and I wanted something with 360 rotating wheels, a large size, and a good deal. I give Gillian all the credit. I told her she didn’t have to go with me, but she did and was actually the one who found the “bargain” of the day.
We split up after that. Gill had more shopping to do. I wanted to make the shuttle so I didn’t have to travel back with that suitcase in a more difficult fashion. I didn’t know about the convenient tram stop at the time or I could have used that. Our pick up point was just beside one of the city’s favorite museums and its unique fountain.
When I got back, I found my clean laundry in the room. I would have packed less if I had remembered about this perk. Since I have been on a number of Uniworld cruises, I get a bag of free laundry while on board. Plus, it comes to the room neatly folded and packaged. As it was, I am able to go home with about half of my clothes clean instead of dirty. Since I now have two suitcases, one gets the clean and the other gets the dirty laundry and the shoes. I spent the rest of the afternoon packing so I could enjoy my evening on board.
I so wish Emma could have joined me for the cruise. I guess this just gives me an excuse to go on another holiday cruise. I have a very early departure in the morning and have to get up at 2 am, so I didn’t stay up too long after dinner. I said goodbye to my new friends this evening, as I won’t see anyone in the morning. My bags have to be out by 2:15 am and I leave the ship at 2:45 am.
I am not a morning person, but I made it. At that hour, it is probably better to be a night owl. They even had out rolls, juice, and coffee. Uniworld likes to get their passengers to the airport 3 hours before their international departure time. I was afraid the airport wouldn’t be open to check in (it has happened before where I waited to hours for the counter to open to check my luggage). There were three of us on an early United flight to Munich where we will make connections. Fortunately, the counter opened shortly after our arrival at the airport.
I am at the Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport which serves three cities and multiple countries. It is appropriately also known as the Euro Airport. The lounge didn’t open until 5 am, so I just tried to stay awake. I did check out the holiday decorations-more secular and winter decor than Christmas. But maybe the big chair was for…
In Munich, I had breakfast in the Lounge and made it to my flight. I am headed home to celebrate Christmas with my family, now truly in the Holiday spirit. Boris, missing the opportunity to travel with me has scheduled a trip to Paris for the new year. Until then…