The Gerzerland Road Trip – (read: GERmany switZERLAND)

Mulhouse, France –  27.03.2016 

Left home (Paris) at about 830 AM. The best feeling in the world is listening to music, and watching the road lines swoosh beneath you. Then there’s the rustic beauty of villages and it’s quietude that make you want to weave your version of life-story had you lived there. And then you think about the internet, and give it a pass, as quickly as possible.

Hmm. So much for small pleasures.

1 BeFunky Collage To basel road

We crossed so many rivers and lakes, one of which was Le Bétrot in the Aube region. I remember it because soon after, we took our first coffee break. We refueled with an espresso and a “Chocolat Viennois” and one and half croissants later, we were ready to drive some more. With about 301 (of 501) kilometers to go, we could afford another pit-stop. We, infact, made two. One was simply for breathing in the snowy view (closer to Mulhouse).  We reached our hotel in Sausheim/ Mulhouse at 2 PM. And were welcomed by a neat line of some 10 odd Tesla parking stations. Stepped out to see the city centre and grab a meal at “La Mie Câline” – which literally translates to “the huggable flour or crumb” We cuddled a ton of crumbs!

Basel, Switzerland – 28.03.2016

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By the Basel bay…

We drove about 20 minutes to Basel from our hotel. Crossed the border at Saint Louis, a French town.

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Just so you know where we are going!

The only reason we knew it was a different country was due a drastic change in the language and style of the road signs and an intimidating net of tram lines.

Once in Basel, first on the agenda was to find parking. This city has zero parking. Z-E-R-O! But in the never-ending quest for finding a spot, we literally car-hopped all over, covering:

Finally, hoping we didn’t have to pay triple digit parking charges (remember, we are in Switzerland now), we decided to park wherever we could find underground parking. That happened to be a Parkhaus Storchen in Fischmarkt! And boy was it cheap! We were so shocked! It was way cheaper than back home! And beautifully located, we were at a 10 minute walk from everything! So recommending this parking.

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Rathaus Fountain

Our first stop after a little walking and gawking around was the very red Rathaus  (City hall or the equivalent of Hotel de Ville, in France).

I suggest that if there’s one thing to do in every city in Germany, it is to go to the respective Rathauses!

They are the prettiest buildings in most towns. Of course Basel had much more to offer. At this point, we were in a square that had picture worthy architecture on all sides.

However, we couldn’t do much else as all shops were shut (it being a Sunday/Sontag).

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Rathaus, Basel

We stopped by at a Tourist information centre at Barfüsserplatz  Tip: In all cities, save your time and energy and visit the tourist office for planning your trip, discounted tickets etc.  M. Roy Fisher at the desk gave us a precise idea of what we could do in the limited time we had. You can find the map and booklet he gave us in the pic below. And looking back I am so grateful we stopped and asked. Some thoughts and facts basis our chat:

  • The Kunstmuseum was closed for renovation, so that was out.
  • The Rheinfahre or taking a boat ride across the Rhine from one of the bridges was a good (inexpensive idea), but we preferred to walk around town instead. But read the review by someone else here
  • We decided basis his suggestion to do the Alstadt and Marktplatz areas (marked on the map)
  • There are about 5 walking tours for you to discover Basel on your own as suggested in the booklet he gave us (Tip: get this booklet if walking is your thing)
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On the map (left) The green Barfussepl. is the tourist information centre. Yellow is the Altstadt area

After some more walking and clicking, our tummies began to roar in revolt. We had to find food ! We had quite a few options near Museum für Geschichte / Barfüsserkirche. We picked Cafe Huguenin in Barfüsserplatz. We sat people watching against a backdrop of city life, busy tram lines, screaming kids, jumpy dogs and Apothekes. Our food arrived – Hot chocolate with Baileys (love having a Bailey’s for my night cap, but I found it strong in this drink), hot chocolate with Ristretto (MUST TRY, we went looking for it at other café’s for the rest of our trip), Salami Camembert sandwich (good) and a Wild berry strudel. Waldbeeren-Strudel (crumbilicious). The décor was friendly and warm. Our hostess was so patient – since we took a while to pick a strudel! We spent a good amount of time and then said our Danke schön’s (or goodbyes) and left.

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There were bands playing all over the old town area. Drums mainly, but sometimes flutes and other instruments too. Almost always really well dressed up, except the first band that played solemnly and were casually attired. Here is one of them:

Some noteworthy sites that we didn’t explore but walked byIMG_7831.JPG were:

  • SpielzeugWelten Museum Basel
  • Erasmushaus Museum –>
  • Rittergasse or the registry office

Our next stop was the Münster Cathedral (do check the link). The first thing that anyone notices is the red-stone façade and scale-like tiles in shades of green mainly. The photographs don’t do justice, at all. And I am certain it’s a sight to behold when lit up in the evenings. But what I found adorable is that there are two steeples (strums in German) with human names. Whatever the history, it’s just downright cute that there’s a George (strum) and a Martin (strum) guarding this heritage site. The calm, coolness on the inside of the cathedral takes your worries away. Welcomes you with an open embrace.

7 basel BeFunky Collage

As you walk around towards the garden square you encounter a table filled with vegetables made out of black stone.

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A little ahead you are face to face with a skull and drum sticks on a drum with a cape – all in the same oil painty stone finish.

Still trying to figure what that is!

At the back, there’s a beautiful courtyard-like opening with panoramic views of the Rhine and the city. And we were lucky to spot a band on a boat playing a Stevie Wonder classic. See it here:

 Just Perfect.

We came out at a square with the Museum der Kulturen, naturhistoriches museum (golden door in the pic), walked until we realized we were late to go meet our friends. We hadn’t even picked a gift.

And Sunday is the worst day to be in this situation. So we decided to de-stress with a Mochaccino at Starbucks (I know, right!). And the barista and another customer were kind enough to tell us that the railway station or Bahnoff have shops open on Sundays. And that it was walkable. We were thrilled!

 Using Here Maps we found our  our way to the Bahnoff, which was anything but walkable (25 minutes when you are late already causes badass arguments)! I wanted to buy a specialty from Basel for my friend (stupid, but the best I could do since forgetting the box of Macarons at home). Läckerli  Huus was on my Must-do excel anyway. We just had to get to it now. Picked up the ginger-bready “Basler Läckerli” and truffles, mini waffles for us and Praliné for her! We are not big ginger bread people, so it’s not a surprise we found it so-so. But the truffles were delicious. Waffles were crunchy, I personally liked noir better.

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The only picture of our Lackerli shopping (an empty box ofcourse). We gobbled the others before I could click.

Headed to their place – details of which are meant for a personal diary. But will tell you this – we played one of the most exciting card games called Mau mau. It’s a deliriously addictive and crazy version of UNO.

Leaving you with as much Basel as I can!

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7 thoughts on “The Gerzerland Road Trip – (read: GERmany switZERLAND)

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