Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Basel: Last Day and Departure

By the morning of my third day in Basel, I am rather fed up. I'm still tired and ill from whatever blight has afflicated me. I've spent a good part of two days wandering aimlessly round the city, seeing the main streets and landmarks. I'm sincerely wondering what I can do with the rest of the day.

I take the bus into town, where I find a backery and pick up a couple of things to eat: Gr├Ąttimaa Schoggi (chocolate chip pastry man) and a Schoggiweggli (some kind of chocolate chip pastry).

It all looks so delicious, and there's only one of me to eat it.

Today, I decided to head up through the Old City, which I'd only checked in passing previously. I avoided bringing a laptop so as to keep my bag light and allow for plenty of walking. I decide to turn off after the bridge and take a fairly circuitous route through various back streets. They're mildly interesting, but not in a photogenic way for the most part.

This mural is on a random wall. I have no idea what it represents, but it's both cool and trippy - could easily be early roleplaying game illustrations.

There's a large building ahead which attracts my attention. This proves to be the Congress Centre, which I can't actually get inside. There's some kind of events going on, but there are security - presumably you either need a pass or to buy a ticket. On the plus side, there's some restaurants around too, and one of them is a relatively affordable Japanese restaurant! Hooray. I leap at the chance.

Weird hole in the middle of the roof; it lets in a reasonable amount of light and presumably lightens the roof as well. Kind of cool.

Not pictured here: very numbers of people breathing smoke all over me from all directions.

This was perfectly pleasant. It came with lamb, which I've only seen at a Mongolian restaurant in Japan, but was quite nice.

Refreshed, I head back towards Barfuesserplatz and the Historical Museum, which was closed yesterday.

I wander inside and find a handy locker to store my stuff. Some confusion ensues, because I'm under the impression that the museum is free, but as I try to wander down a set of stairs to check out the basement gallery, a staff member pounces on me. I apologise and go to buy a ticket I don't especially want. I think the setup may be that the basement part is ticketed but the upstairs is free? I'm confused. Maybe none of it is. Anyway, I pay and get on with it.

A town model

There was an exhibition of chemistry, innovation and its social relevance.

I believe this is a coal-bearing rock, or some such.

Looks pretty groovy to me.

The museum is inside a church, and most of the fittings are still here. There are also some displays of historical church silverware.

The basement contains a more general set of historical goods. Most of them are the usual generic artefacts - bowls, coins, bits of bone and so on. All fine, but I've seen plenty before.

These are incredibly thin stackable bowls.

I think this is a coconut turned into a dispenser of some sort.

Animal samples in a cabinet of curiosities.

There were also plenty of tapestries, bits of mediaeval artwork (including rescued fragments of a huge Dance of Death mural) and samples from various local crafts.

This room is preserved as it belonged to a famous theologian, but embarrassingly I can't remember which and it's not on the website.

Museumed out, I stride off into the steep streets to the south-west, randomly doing a circuit and just scoping the place out. There's not a huge amount of great interest to see here - various shops, lots of houses, but it's fairly ordinary stuff and the lighting isn't very good.

To be fair, most places are not fundamentally particularly interesting. I've learned this more and more as I travel more. Many places are interesting to visit with other people. Some places are very scenic, although that often fades after a while. Most places have a few specific points of interest, which you may or may not be able to appreciate. I suspect it's a little easier if you're very much into restaurants or bars or something, because you can find that sort of thing more or less everywhere.

There is a large barometer in this street. I don't know why. At least, I think it was a barometer.


There's a big, distinctive red building in the town centre. This is the town hall; "Roothuus" is the local dialect term for Council Hall (elsewhere "Rathaus"), and a handy homophonic pun on "Red House". It's not particularly striking in the low light conditions that prevail, but when the sun strikes it's very pleasing.

With the night creeping in, I find a My Thai restaurant in a nearby shopping centre. I was actually planning to buy some bits from a supermarket, but it didn't have a suitable set of things (shopping for one meal for one person in a generic supermarket is suboptimal). So instead, I go for further noodles and nice green tea.

Once I get back, I write for a while and decide on a walk. I'm getting bored and want to get out. I deliberately head away from town, and meander nowhere in particular. It's not hugely interesting, being just a generic residential district, but my podcast is good so it's fine.

The following day, my flight is in the afternoon. For breakfast, I eat my cakes.

I lock up, hand over the keys, and head off into town. Here I find a luggage locker to tuck my case away, and have another wander around. There's not a lot of excitement; I take further photos of the red building, and have my lunch back at My Thai to save the effort of hunting around too much. At that point I see no particular advantage in hanging around and decide to just head to the airport. There's a few intriguing-looking books, but given the extortionate prices here I see no reason to buy them; I can always pick them up from German sources. And I really, really don't need any more books right now.

I sit around bored for a while, having several hours to kill before the flight. I sensibly brought some basic food, because the airport is sparse and extremely boring, though it does have a cafe. And now for the tedious journey back to Manchester.

Several hours later, I get into Manchester. The flight has not provided any form of liquid, and I've had no opportunity to collect any. My luggage takes so long to arrive that I have to sprint through the airport and down the stairs to the station, in the hopes of getting the 9.45pm train home. My hopes are dashed when, although I arrive a couple of minutes early, the train's arrival time slowly ticks back minute by minute. Before long, it's evident that there's no point getting it as I'll miss my connection and be stranded in the middle of nowhere overnight.

Thank heavens, the shop which earlier seemed to be closed has reopened. It's an all-night concern, apparently, and they were just restocking! I manage to buy a tea and muffin (eventually ferreting out my British money) and collapse at a table to wait two hours. As I do so, I realise that the foil-wrapped chocolate I was kindly given by my host at Aaron's Sleepwell, and hastily tucked into a pocket, has melted in my coat and seeped into the fabric, bestowing a large oily patch and a strong scent of chocolate which (SPOILERS) remains months later after several bouts of scrubbing and treatment.

I hate Basel.

I eventually get back well after midnight, pay for a taxi (almost unprecedented) and stumble into my flat around 1am. I'm so glad I took today off work.

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