Basel is not a large city, but an interestingly shaped one. Basel is in the northwest of Switzerland, situated on a little triangle which borders France to the northwest and Germany to the northeast. If you think of the city as the face of a clock, you can trace the path of the Rhine River, a pale green ribbon, which flows into the city at 3 o’clock, and then after reaching the center, goes back out around 11 am or noon. The more-or-less quadrant that you have cut out with the river is Klein Basel (Little Basel), and that is the part where we are staying.
Not too far north of us (about 30 minutes walking) is the German border. The other three-quarters of the city is Gross Basel (Big Basel) which holds the Altstadt (or Old Town) and most of the inhabitants as well as the other buildings. It only takes a bus about half an hour to go clear across the entire city, but many of the roads trace smaller circles within the larger circle of the city, so it can takes considerably longer to get around. On our second afternoon in the city, we found that Tram 2, which we were counting on taking back, was suddenly out of service because the city was going to re-pave some roads in the center of town. It took an extra 15 minutes to walk all the way back to the train station where we thought we were going to be able to catch the tram before, but we were told to get ourselves on the next 30 bus which would drop us off across the river. It ended up taking nearly 90 minutes for us to get back to the apartment with all the groceries we had promised to pick up.
Construction is not an uncommon thing to see here. Cranes do dot the Basel skyline, and even smaller ones are common in the neighborhood, where folks are having work done on their houses or on the sidewalk. Steve commented that there was so much construction, it kept reminding him of China. Sam indicated that it was a Swiss way of employing people and keeping things spic-and-span. Sometimes, the roads or the buildings don’t need to be redone, but it certainly serves a purpose. To me, it sounds like Switzerland is one of the only countries in the world which is ahead of the game. Most countries are woefully behind.Continue reading Exploring the corner of Switzerland