30.11.2013: Short trip to Basel, Switzerland

Since I have registered myself as a mentor for an Erasmus or exchange student at the beginning of the semester, I met Merve from Istanbul. This is organized every year/semester by the international department of my university. They also organize trips or events like a swabian dinner. Last time we registered for a trip to Heidelberg, but didn’t get in. This time, we managed to participate to the trip to Basel. I was so much looking forward for it, since it was a city and a country I have never been to.

On Saturday morning I had to take an early train to Tübingen. It was 6 am, and there were many sleepy, young people returning home from partying.

I arrived at the train station in Tübingen at about 6.42. Merve wasn’t on the bus yet, so I waited a while there and read something. There were many different people there. Young people, arriving from a party, old beggars, travellers, even a group of children who were probably returning from camping. The bakery was already open and the queue was getting longer and longer. Merve arrived at about 7.05 am and got herself something to eat and a coffee. We slowly walked to the bus station to waitfor the bus. Therewere already many Erasmus students waiting, chatting around. The girl who was part of the organization team was also already there. The bus howeve was 10 minutes late. When it finally arrived we were quite happy to be able to get a seat in the warmth. In the back of the bus, we had a seat and chatted a while until we waited for the bus to leave. At about 8 am it finally moved. Many people were already sleeping again. I somehow wasn’t tired yet, so I drank my cold coffee and ate my sandwich, as well as Merve, while we were  chatting. After an hour, we noticed that we were crossing a high landscape with lots of trees that was full of white, untouched snow. We later found out that it was the Schwarwald (Black Forest). I have already been on a car trip to Turkey and Milan, but it was always in summer/spring, so the Black Forest always looked normal. But this time it was in winter, and the first time I have seen it snowy. I actually don’t like snowy landscapes, but the Black Forest looked incredibly beautiful, somehow peaceful, only a few birds hopping across the grounds and flying above the trees.

We tried to sleep then while the bus was riding through the Black Forest. It sometimes was a bit hard since the sun shone upon the white snow which reflected the light into my face and I got blended several times.

When I finally was fast asleep, the organizer girl came and woke us all up :’D she wanted us to check off our names on the list. The people behind us took a long time until they have finally finished. We found our names in less than 3  minutes and she was happy that we were so fast. She told us that we were driving through Freiburg now and that we would arrive in Basel soon. It really was closer than I thought. After everyone was finished checking off their name on the list, she made an announcement that we would take a short break before entering Switzerland, so that we could buy something to eat since they have another currency in Switzerland and give Swiss Franc as change back when we pay with Euros. I have almost forgot that they had a different currency there, so got worried a bit. But I got myself a fish sandwich from ‘Nordsee’. After leaving the toilette, Merve bought something to eat for herself as well. When the bus set off, we only drove for about half an hour until we arrived in Basel, the bus stopped in front of the art museum, and we had to wait for our tour guides to arrive. There was one tour offered in german, and one in english. We took the english one since Merve can’t speak german as well. But I think even I would have had difficulties understanding swiss german.

Our guide was a small, thin woman with short hair and a sympathetic face. Her english was great. She had a clear pronounciation and spoke a bit in a british accent.

The tour should take about 2 hours. We started at the art museum. It was a bit smaller but looked nice. We found out that Basel was famous for its many different art museums. A rich woman, a pharmacist,  has donated money for a second building of that art museum. It was now in progress.

The entrance of the art museum

After that we crossed the road and stood at the beginning of the ‘Freie Straße’, the shopping street in Basel. We could already see the roofs of the city hall from there. That would be our final stop where the tour would end. We continued to the theatre and the fountain in front of that which looked beautiful.

All of those fountains moved and made rumbling sounds while throwing water. It looked like in a magical world, the kinds of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

We continued then through the Christmas market to the Barfüßenplatz (bare foot square).

The Christmas pyramide


Me and Merve in front of the beautifully decorated christmas trees

Here, we shortly entered the historical museum.

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We didn’t stay too long inside, but the guide informed us about a tour inside of the museum called ‘Real Knights, fake Fortresses’.

Back outside again, there was a nice little fountain at the Barfüßenplatz which had dragon shaped sculptures throwing water. The guide explained then the city symbol to us. And this is when it got interesting now. She told us about the love for fairytale and magical creatures that the citizens of Basel have had for many many years. That’s also why the city emblem of Basel is a magical ceature that also appears in many stories like ‘Harry Potter’. A bishop (I think it was a bishop she mentioned), once saw this creature. But since its breeding is very hard and seldom takes place not everyone could see it. It is a saurian kind of creature, with yellow, deathly eyes, turning everyone whoo look in those eyes into stone. As she asked us to guess what kind of creature it was I was quick to say: “A Basilisk!” Of course it was right and I was so proud of myself :D This is also how the city got its name: Basilisk –> Basel. I was so amazed by this story. I have never been to a city which had such an interesting symbol story. It is probably the most magical city I have been to. So, I have already began to develop a certain interest for Basel.

The fountain with the Basilisks. This somehow reminds me of the sinks in the girl’s bathroom in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ which is the entrance to the chamber. And one of the taps also has a Basilisk engraved on it.

Now we headed to the cathedral that came after the Barfüßenplatz.


This cathedral was on top of a hill where the rich people used to live earlier. It is made of red sand stone, that’s why it has this red color. There are sculptures on top of the cathedral, one from St. Martin.


We also entered the cathedral. It is also special because the grave of Erasmus von Rotterdam lies there.


There was even a Basilisk on the ground of the Cathedral. Probably it was seen here by the bishop? I am not sure. I wished I had asked the guide, but I just noticed the question right now.
This is the grave of Erasmus von Rotterdam. Unfortunately, the picture is a bit cooked and I didn’t get the top part on the picture, because a guy stood in front of that and wanted to have lots of pictures in front of that -.-

We didn’t stay all too long in the church. We then went to the backside of the cathedral from where we could have a good look over Basel.





This is the north side of Basel where Germany (on the right) and France (on the left) meet. That’s why the border of Basel is so important since it lies on a point that connects three countries: Germany, France, and Switzerland.



I was too scared to sit on the border so I took photos of Merve.

We continued our tour and walked through tiny alley back on Freie Straße again. On the was there, we took some photos of the decorations.

Another huge mansion


We were now in the middle of Freie Straße,  in front of a bar called Fumare, Non Fumare. The guide told us that it was possible to just sit in there without buying something to drink. That was something very peculiar for me since I am always asked by waiters if I have any wishes still. I haven’t known any bar like this before.

We then stood at the beginning of a wider alley, consistingnof cute little shops like a tea shop, florist, chocolatier, and cheese shop.







There is even something like a little Walk of Fame in this little alley, from swiss prominents. I didn’t know any of them.
I loved this little graphic on one of the buildings.

Now the final part of the tour has begun. We headed to the City hall building and I was utterly amazed by this wonderful building!


Definitely my favorite building in Basel.

Now that the tour has ended, the guide gave us all a map of Basel, thanked us, and said goodbye. She recommended us some shops to buy chocolate for example, and a few museums. On the market place there, we tried a piece of cheese. It had quite a strong taste. Then we decided to look for some chocolate as a souvenir. We were shocked as we saw the prices. Small Praline boxes beginning with 11 CHF and reaching until 20 CHF!!! I thought I was going crazy. The praline bar looked gorgeous, and the Santa Clause Sculptures! In that moment, I wished I was rich and lived in Switzerland.



Then I decided to buy a pack of different parts of chocolate bars for 11.40 CHF. I had to pay about 9.60€. I didn’t understand this, since I thought Euro was a bit more than Swiss Francs. But the woman calculated it on the cash box. So I guess it had to be right.

Doesn’t it look delicious? It also was, indeed. Tasted so much different than all those brand chocolate we buy, like Milka. The taste was more natural and less sugary. I loved it!

Now we walked around the streets and headed towards the Christmas market to look through the stands quietly. Image

Back at the Christmas market, we saw the cutest stands. I personally liked them better than those in Germany. It also didn’t smell like sour crout, but rather like Raclette. I liked that smell.

We saw a big tent which was cull of hats (Chapeaux). Since Merve and me are both cap wearers, we wanted to have a look inside.


Of course, the prices were too damn high, so we didn’t buy anything. But the hats were beauticul.

As we left the tent, we saw a hot chocolate stand. We also wanted to drink some hot chocolate, but the vendor wanted 11€ for that. So we left.

Now we headed to the city again to look inside some shops and compare the prices. In C&A the prices were almost the same as here in Germany. After trying on some hats and caps here, too, we went outside to search for some postcards. We went to the direction of the city hall and looked inside oc the city hall. There was a woman singing in a beautiful voice. It sounded like in a musical.

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Inside, the city hall looked as beautiful as from the outside.

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Now we went to some back streets and alleys to look for postcards. I saw a beautiful building with lights hanging down from it.


After strolling through the alleys we found ourselves in front of the university.

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We found our way back to the city again, and searched for place to go to the toilet. We thought about the cafe the guide mentioned. After leaving the toilets, we thought we could also sit down and warm ourselves a bit. Merve also decided to get herself a hot chocolate. It is a bar in which you have to get your own drinks, the same as at Starbucks. They also had free wi-fi so we couldn’t wait to write back our friends.

The hot chocolate cost 5.60 CHF and the girl said it would cost about 10€. I was surprised, because Merve told me hers cost about 5€ but I am not sure if she mixes it up with the francs. However, I like their money. It looks so artistic, and colorful. Probably the most beautiful currency I have seen until now (I have seen DM, Euro, Pounds, and Turkish Lira)

Now, after owning some francs, we thought about eating Raclettes at the Christmas market. It cost about 8.50 CHF. We havent eaten it earlier, beause we had Euros and it sounded more expensive to our ears. We also weren’t hungry yet. But now, we were slowly getting hungry, so we allowed ourselves to try something new.


I have never tried Raclette since they don’t sell it at german Christmas markets, but I really liked it although it was small and expensive. On new years eve, the germans tend to do Raclette, also called Cheese Fondue.

As we finished eating, it was already dawning. We took some photos of the beautiful decorations, and then slowly walked in the direction of the art museum where our bus would wait.


On our way there, we noticed that the streets were closed, because of the city marathon taking place that day. Then, all of a sudden, we saw hundreds of children running.

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We thought we would be the first ones to arrive there,but many spanish erasmus students were already there, waiting.

This time our bus didn’t take too long and we happily entered the warmth at 5.30 pm. Merve and me were quite relieved to sit down and to be soon out of Switzerland so that we could have internet on our phones again :’D we are such addicts! Of course we were also sad to leave Basel, but we have already seen everything important, and we definitely wouldn’t miss the expensive prices there.

We arrived at Tübingen at about 8.45pm. My train would arrive at 9.23pm and leave at 9.37pm. I arrived at 10.10pm and my father picked me up. They were at our uncle’s, because my aunt was celebrating her birthday. I ate some salad and samosa, and then we got cake, Tiramisu.

It was a great, interesting, magical day with a nice ending. I hope to see more cities as magical as Basel soon.

Thanks for reading this too long post.




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