7/16-18/17: BASEL, Switzerland
Wikipedia history of Basel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Basel
Basel figured prominently – in my opinion – in several noteworthy times in history: in 1529 it became Protestant; 1536 John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion” was published; in 1543 Vesalius’ published “De Humani corporis fabrica”, a detailed human anatomy in seven volumes, correcting errors previously given by Galen.
We traveled with Paul, Tracie, Mason, all of whom, as were we, sentient and vertical on arrival to the Swissotel in Basel, Switzerland where we spent our first two nights on the Continent. We were pleased to learn that a majority of Swiss speak German, and English. Those we met spoke fluent English and had spent time in the States.
Amy and I collapsed into coma for a couple of hours, while our kids, who apparently ate nothing for breakfast on either the trans Atlantic flight or the short hop from Heathrow to Basel, sought something to eat before napping.
Arising rather refreshed from our nap, we obtained a city map and walked the 1 mile into the Old City for an initial reconnoiter to plan an evening photo shoot. Walking around the Old City and seeing two Medieval churches and restored period houses gave substance to its history and that of the Continent. I did get a few shots that first night, but jet lag captured my appetite for night shooting so we returned to the hotel. http://basel.all-about-switzerland.info/basel-medieval-ramparts-gates-spalentor-stalbanvorstadt.html
We walked over the Mittlere Brücke – trams rerouted – into the Old City.
Awakening to bright sun shining through our window and the sound of Monday commuters and tram traffic, we were pleased to have clocked 9.5 hours in sleep mode. First looking at the street below, a tram, seen from above, revealed its heating and cooling components.
Two espressos and a shower later, I’m reminded that breakfast is in order. Our first adventure with Mason and family will be to use the free two day passes given by the hotel to take the tram over the Wettsteinbücke to visit the Open Church of St. Elizabeth, an Ecumenical Church
which was built initially in 1857, and is used as a ecumenical community center.
Then to the Barfusse (Bare foot) platz, just a few blocks away, to experience the markets and sidewalk cafés.
On the way back to our hotel, we strolled along the Rhine River Promenade, watching people float down stream on what we learned to be inflated bags that could double as a beach bag.
After an ice cream cone, and purchasing one of the bags, we headed back to the hotel for some rest. Instead of photographing, we spent the evening with Paul, Tracie and Mason having an array of tapas leading to a Continenal supper into the evening. Then it was really time for more rest.
The following morning, before departing on the cruise, we took a tram ride to a chocolatier known to Tracie, who works as a Research and Development Chef at a desert manufacturing company in Reading, PA. Here are just a few of the delights available there.
Bags packed and ready for pickup by 1000, we have another 5 hours until the coach transports us to the ship.
As we were sitting around awaiting our coach pickup, we learned that the ship was a short tram ride away, and thus decided to find it on our own, three hours before the scheduled pickup. We arrived onboard to learn that our cabin was ready, and began to settle in when I realized with a clap of dread that I had left our passports and currency in the hotel room lock box, necessitating a call to have it retrieved by the concierge. We returned to the hotel in 12 minutes by tram and with great relief, picked up these items after satisfactorily identifying ourselves. The rest of the day was certainly more uneventful, particularly after cocktail hour.
So, you might wonder why Switzerland is abbreviated CH. Here is the explanation: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2145/why-is-ch-the-abbreviation-for-switzerland