Basel, Switzerland

For every trip Miles and I go on we buy a wallpaper city guide and we have our collection of them proudly perched on top of the fireplace in our living room as a reminder of all our past trips. One day after work I got home and went  into the living room where Miles was sitting, he looked over at the fireplace where I noticed there was a brand new travel book on top of our collection – a grey wallpaper guide for Basel –Switzerland! ‘We leave at 6am tomorrow’ Miles laughed – ‘happy birthday’. eeek!

The next morning, we woke up early and got the first train to Gatwick from London where we boarded our fight and headed off to Switzerland. Funnily enough we bumped into two couples from school on the plane (including one of my sisters’ best mates, Lulu) – clearly Basel was the place to be!

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View of the alps from the plane

We landed in Basel (the airport for which is actually in France) and headed across the Swiss border and into the main town via the bus. Miles had booked us into a really lovely hotel right on the river called Kraft Basel – it’s a very arty hotel and is in a fantastic location. After checking in and dumping our bags we headed into the city to explore. Miles had visited Basel once before with work so he roughly knew his way around. It was my first time in Switzerland so I couldn’t wait to see that the city had to offer.

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The town has a real medieval, fairytale vibe which makes it a photographer’s paradise – it really is so beautiful. After wandering for a while (in the freezing cold!) we headed to the Christmas market (where we bumped into Lulu again!) and filled up on mulled wine and Raclette. This has to be one of my favourite things in the world, sitting all wrapped up, drinking mulled wine and watching the world go by.

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A little while later we wandered up by the university and happened to stumble across a little botanical garden which was open to the public. It was a good little stop off, but you didn’t half notice the cold on the way out!

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That evening we popped back to the hotel for a couple of drinks and a costume change before heading to Union Restaurant for their delicious burgers.

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Having been up at the crack of dawn we decided to hit the sack and wandered back to the hotel for a well-deserved sleep (after stopping of at the bar next to our hotel and sipping wine out on the street wrapped up in blankets!)

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The next morning – my 25th birthday – I woke up to the loveliest display of cards and pastries at the foot of the bed. Miles had snuck out without me noticing! We got up and dressed before strolling across the bridge and having coffees at Confiserie Bachman – it’s a really traditional European coffee shop with amazing coffees, pastries and incredible cakes – why don’t we have places like that in London!

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Having satisfied our caffeine fix we wandered again through the narrow streets to admire the ancient crooked houses – they really do look like something out of a story book. It’s crazy to think how old the city is and easy to think you’ve gone back in time!

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We strolled down to the river bank where we could hop on board the Rhine ferry – a small boat which, tethered to a rope, pulls you across the river, It’s definitely an interesting equivalent to walking the bridge and worth a little trip – even if it does only take a matter of minutes.

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We walked up towards the papers museum with its impressive water mill. Paper is one of the oldest exports of Basel and has been in production in the city since medieval times. After walking round the grounds of the museum we headed closer into the city centre (via the cartoon museum) and back for our fill of mulled wine at one of the Christmas markets.

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Normally Miles will let us stay at a Christmas market for a one drink maximum, but it being my birthday and all, we stayed for a couple of hours and had such a lovely afternoon feeling very festive.

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I was adamant that we couldn’t come to Switzerland and not try proper authentic fondue. What could be better than a pot of melted cheese and wine when it’s freezing outside. We literally couldn’t believe how expensive fondue was however – costing around about £30 for one pot! Anyway, it was lunchtime (and my birthday – did I mention that?) so we popped to Restaurant Schnabel and ordered the biggest most delicious steaming vat of bubbling fondue I have ever eaten. It.was.incredible. Miles and I spent at least a couple of hours in the restaurant eating our weight in French bread slathered in the gooey cheese. Even better, the waiter didn’t charge us for our bottle of wine so we didn’t feel quite as bad at spending so much money on cheese. Happy birthday me.

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After popping back to the hotel for birthday prosecco we headed out for the evening. The plan was to go for some drinks and dinner, however we were still so stuffed from our fondue that we decided just to stick to the drinks. Liquid diet and all that. We headed towards Cargo Bar where we spent all evening sitting at the bar, drinking margaritas and dancing. It was such a lovely birthday evening.

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The next morning we woke up a little fuzzy headed but got up and dressed early – today our plan was simple –visit four countries in one day.

Our first stop, still in Switzerland (country number one) was to visit the Messe Basel New Hall with it’s beautiful perforated vortex architecture.

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From there we hopped a’board the bus crossed the border and headed towards the town of Weil am Rheim, Germany (country number two). We wanted to pop in to see the Vitra Design Haus where we ate plenty of apfel kucken and left with a case of serious house envy – some of the vitra stuff is just so lovely.

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After a few hours we hopped back on board the bus, crossed back into Switzerland, where we headed to Voltabrau for beer tasters, wine and cheese.

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Unfortunately our trip to beautiful Basel had now come to and so we grabbed our bags, boarded the bus and headed to the airport in France (country number three) before heading back in England (country number four) absolutely exhausted!

It really was a fantastic trip!

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