Basel and Bern: Cultural and actual capitals of Switzerland…

…aka that one time when Joanne and Louisa acted like they were approximately five years old.

Last Monday, Joanne and I departed from our cozy mountain home in Southwestern-ish Switzerland and headed north. We arrived in Basel, the 3rd-largest city in Switzerland, located on the Swiss side of the French/Swiss/German border, just after lunch, and found our hostel amazingly easily. The hostel itself was gorgeous– spotlessly clean, and flawlessly designed, both aesthetically and functionally.

The city of Basel itself is an artform; never have I seen so much variety in art, architecture, and fountains. In addition to the statues and gazebos that brighten the city, modern art peppers the streets, murals pop up without warning, brightly-colored knits cover the handrails of the bridge, and bizarre headless statues stand guard over the most magical playground I’ve ever seen.

Can you find Joanne?

Also, the town hall is bright red.

As museums close at 6 in Switzerland, we only had time for one, and we chose the Poppenhausen. That’s right, in a city full of incredible art museums, we visited the one that was stuffed with dolls and teddy bears. Skeptical upon entry, the museum itself was incredible; the dolls and teddy bears were truly an art form, if slightly creepy at times. We followed the museum with a stop at an incredible candy store, where we filled a bag and wandered the city until our sugar high ran out and we reached the Rhine.


We picnicked on bratwurst with our toes in the water and watched the local color drift by.

The following morning, we split up for solo wanderings for a few hours before heading to our second destination, Bern. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and is aesthetically incredible- uniform architecture, clock towers and fountains, all surrounded by the beautiful River Aare.

“Einstein Haus”

Einstein lived here, and it is said that his theories were inspired by the gigantic clocktower just down the street from his house.

Is it possible that this clock inspired the theory of relativity?

Luckily, we were there on a Tuesday, when there is a spectacular streetfair, selling everything from flowers and produce to earrings and hammocks. From the street fair, we followed the main road past the clock tower and Einstein’s house, across the River Aare, past the Bern bears, and up to the rose garden, which offers an incredible view of the city. We wandered the roses, climbed trees and played on playgrounds while resting from the heat, before heading back into the city. We dipped our feet in the Aare and watched the bears, frolicking on a merry-go-round, before picking up another picnic and running into a few local yodellers before making our way back south, to Montreux.

There’s more to yodelling than “yodel-ay-he-who”


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