After such a special and busy day yesterday, we did very little today. After breakfast we decided to walk to find the dock from which our boat would be leaving in 2 days’ time.

We had been told that it would be at St Johann 1 dock on the Old City side of the Rhine River and that we would be informed if there was any change. We didn’t receive any information of a change and so went ahead. After walking for 1.5 hours, we found the dock and so felt comfortable that we knew where we would board the boat. We decided to take a tram back to the hotel and so knew just which one to catch to get to the dock with our luggage. We spent the rest of the day resting, reading and doing laundry, going out only to get lunch and dinner.

Our final day in Basel was to be another special one but for quite different reasons from that of the day spent on the Glacier Express. It was Leah’s 7th birthday and we had been invited to supper to celebrate. We decided to spend the morning doing some sight-seeing by tram, using the complimentary public transport coupon given to us by the hotel. the first one that arrived. It took the usual route down Clarastrasse, turned left to pass the St Clara of Assisi Roman Catholic Church and St Theodor’s Reformed Church to cross the Rhine via the Wettstein Bridge. From this bridge the tall Roche Towers, housing Roche Pharmaceuticals, can be seen. Originally, it had been planned for us to visit the Roche Towers, where Ronnie is employed as a chef, as there is a magnificent view over Basel. Unfortunately, Ronnie was called into a meeting at the last minute, so our plans changed, and we spent the afternoon with Nadia and the girls. At the first stop after the bridge we alighted and went to a chocolate shop to buy some Swiss chocolate for a friend.

St Clara of Assisi RC Church
Entrance to St Theodor’s Church
Wettstein Bridge with Roche Towers

We then took the next tram that arrived, not being concerned as to where it was headed. We passed the Marktplatz and continued along a road which was mainly residential. After a couple of kms we discovered that we were about to cross into France, so we decided to get off and go back to the Marktplatz where we had seen some beautiful buildings. Fortunately, the first tram to arrive had the same number as the one we had just been on which meant that it would go to the Marktplaz. There were some very beautiful buildings, the most distinctive being the Council building or Rathaus. I love that German name for the Council building since it is where politicians meet. It was originally built in 1501 and now has a plaque confirming that it was refurbished in 1901, 400 years later.

Basel Town Hall or Rathaus
Rathaus with sign for renovation in 1901 & the flag of Basel

We spent about half an hour at the Marktplatz, caught the tram to the Central Station and a bus to St Jakobstrasse where we were due to meet Nadia with her younger daughter, Thea. It was Leah’s 7th birthday and she had chosen to go horse riding, which she adores. In fact, she has a wooden horse at home which she can ride. It has all the necessary equipment such as reins, bridle, bit and saddle and she has so much fun riding it and then she brushes it down and packs everything away.

Vicky & Trevor on the Wettstein bridge with the Roche Towers behind us.

There was a bit of misunderstanding and we waited in the wrong place but not too far away and within minutes of a phone call Nadia arrived on her bicycle with Thea in a seat on the back. This is their most common form of getting around. We walked to the 18ha Merian Gärten Botanic Gardens where we walked around for about an hour seeing a large variety of flowers, in particular a number of different coloured tulips. We were surprised to see so many tulips in Basel. Whereafter Nadia rode off with Thea to fetch Leah.

Pink Tulips
White Tulips
Chilean Rhubarb

Trevor and I continued to explore the Gardens, making our way to the entrance at the opposite end  to the one through which we had come. We walked through the lovely herb garden, the large and varied vegetable garden, an orangery, admired the rhododendron valley, the snowdrops and the English garden. It was amazing to see the collection of irises, the largest in Europe with about 1500 species. At one end of the Gardens is the Villa Merian built in 1711 and now houses the Café Merian which uses fresh herbs and vegetables from the gardens. During our walk we watched some employees working, without great urgency, and read all about the Merian family who had donated the land for the gardens. Altogether, very pleasant afternoon. We met Nadia and Thea, with Leah on her bicycle, at the gate as arranged and went to another café where we had coffee or ice-cream and then walked to their home.

Leah at a fountain in the gardens

Ronnie was already home cooking dinner, he is a chef, Nadia’s parents, Joerg and Heidi, arrived and we had a wonderful birthday supper together. Leah was excited to change into the dress, based on the movie Frozen,  which she had received for her birthday. Not far from their apartment are 2 interesting facilities. There is a school for physically challenged children with an enrolment in excess of 250. Next door to the school is a Chapel with a set of bells set high in a modern tower and we were lucky enough to hear them peal out as they do at 5pm every day.

Trevor & Leah talking about one of her presents
Bells of the Chapel

When we had said our final good-byes, as we were leaving on our Rhine River cruise the next morning, Ronnie, once again, drove us back to the hotel, so ending a special week in Basel. Thus endeth a fabulous week in the City of Basel. Tomorrow we start our first Rhine cruise.