On our first morning in Basel, we woke rather late, but breakfast was served until 11:00 so we didn’t miss out. Before going to breakfast, though, we called at Reception to arrange breakfasts for the week and a very nice young man on duty gave us discounts as Senior Citizens and changed our room as there were stairs to negotiate to access the first room. The 2nd was much nicer. For breakfast there was the usual selection of both English and Continental breakfasts but not the most exciting. Coffee was excellent though.

Our hotel which has stood here since 1860. Our 2nd room was on the 2nd floor on the corner.
Mural on the wall of our hotel

We decided to discover the close environs of the New City on foot during the morning and visit the Old City in the afternoon with Nadia, Ronnie and the girls.

Although it was so cold, it was clearly Spring as there were beautiful beds of flowers on many corners. What is also special about these European cities are the variety of sculptures, fountains and statues everywhere. The first square where we stopped had a 4-sided structure which included a clock, a barometer, a thermometer and a hygrometer, all fully functional. We have since learnt that it is an historical weather station built by Joseph Schetty-Amman in his weather station in his cottage. It was a donation to the Basel Association Celebration in 1892, according to the plaque which I have translated from the German. We found it fascinating to know that it is still in full working order.

Historical  weather station
              Spring flowers in Clara Strasse

On the opposite square was a statue of a young woman, above a fountain outside a Roman Catholic Church, St Clara of Assissi. Around the base of the fountain were friezes but there was nothing on any part of the structure to say what it was or when it was created. Is it of the Saint? But then, as we were in Clara Strasse, it could be Clara Thalmann, an anarchist and communist who went to Spain from Basel to fight in the Durruti Column in the Civil War. It is a bit of a conundrum deciding between a Christian Saint and a Communist. Next door to the church was a large school but, even though it was only midday it was very quiet.

Statue of Clara? outside the Church of St Clara of Assissi

We were able to walk through the grounds into the next street and up to the Wettstein Platz (a platz is a place) which was a very large and busy intersection and with busses and trams as well as other vehicles coming and going from 5 streets. What we did remember was that, if you use a pedestrian crossing in Switzerland the vehicles stop, sometimes before you have decided to cross the road. It can be quite disconcerting for those of us who are not accustomed to this. The main attraction here was an astrological clock with the orbits of all the planets and the 12 star signs. The whole area around the Platz was full of flowers.

Wettsteinplatz & the Astrological Clock
                        Pisces Star Sign
One of the gardens at Wettsteinplatz

We walked just a bit further to look at another church, St Theodor’s Reformed Church. The church dates back to, at least, 1100 but much of it was damaged in an earthquake in 1365. Originally it was Roman Catholic but became Protestant Reformed in 1529 following the Reformation and the building has hardly changed since. There are 2 Theodor(e)s on record but I don’t know which this one was. As it wasn’t too far from the hotel, I decided that I would attend there on Sunday.

Entrance to St Theodor’s Church
                              St Theodor

At 2pm the family arrived and we all caught the tram up Clara Strasse and across the Rhine, into the Old City where we alighted and walked to the Natural History Museum. This involved walking up a very steep hill, passing a home built in the 12th century, a statue of a woman with a horse which I cannot find who it might be and a building belonging to a faculty of the University of Basel. This is the oldest university in Switzerland, having been founded in 1460 and one of the oldest, surviving universities in the world.

University of Basel building halfway up the hill
House built in 1117 opp the University building
Statue of a woman and a horse
Looking down the hill

This climb brought us to a very large Square where, not only the Museum but apartments, a library, some shops, a small park and, most importantly, the Minster or Cathedral. In Basel it is generally referred to as the Minster even though it started as a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the 12th century and changed to Protestant Reform in the 16th. As with St Theodor’s Church, the original building was destroyed in the 1356 earthquake. We took a photo of a house built in 1390 and there were some fascinating plastic animals in the windows. As Trevor took the photo, a gentleman walked out with his bicycle and acted as if we weren’t even there.

Basel Minster
Home built in 1390

We had a delightful time in the Natural History Museum as it is very child orientated. So much for them to touch and feel. One of the favourites was to climb up a few steps to look into the stomach of the Woolly Mammoth to see what kind of food he ate. The only disappointment was that all, except one, explanatory notes were in German only. The one in English as well was interesting in that it explained why in the display case were men in white protective suits examining bones. A number of years ago it was discovered that, when repairing damaged bones, scientists used asbestos. As a result, every skeleton in the collection was being checked, the asbestos removed where necessary, and replaced with non-toxic cement. Over the 12 years that this had been done not one person had been asbestos affected.

We then purchased ice-creams for the girls and walked to the tram stop to go to their home for supper. On arrival at their apartment the girls got out their bicycles and spent a happy half hour cycling around a beautiful space for them to do so safely. Leah, 7, loves to whistle and it was so much fun watching her cycling and hearing this high-pitched whistle.

Leah on her bicycle

After a lovely evening, with the girls much more relaxed in our company, Ronnie insisted on driving us back to the hotel instead of using the tram.