We hadn’t planned to go to Basel, but on a drizzly day with hopes for a clearer afternoon, we made the 1 1/2 hour drive to check it out. Between Christmas and New Year’s, on a wet weekend day, we didn’t expect it to be very busy or much going on.
We were quite surprised to come into town to see mobs of people at the end of the street we turned down to get to a parking garage. We gingerly turned around and made our way to another one, which was closed. We kept finding ourselves on streets where trams were driving, which made us nervous that we were somewhere we shouldn’t be with the car. When we found an open parking garage and were able to explore on foot, we were much more relaxed. We stopped for a quick lunch and asked about the crowds. There was a youth religious conference in town (Taizé), with about 15,000 people lining up at various churches and cultural venues.
Since we were only in Basel for a few hours, we took our usual approach to a new city and walked all around the old town.
The Kunstmuseum was too crowded to consider going in. But, even from the outside, it was interesting in its two parts: the original building on one side of the road and a new, modern, building on the other.
When we first drove toward the Münsterplatz, the plaza that surrounds the Basel Münster (minster or cathedral), it was bogged down with people. But by the time we arrived there on foot the crowds had dissipated enough for us to take a look.
Walking down the hill from the plaza, the buildings opened up to a view of the Rhine River. This area of Basel is a popular day stop for people starting or ending a Rhine River cruise. This is also a very interesting area geographically. About 3km north along the river is a meeting point for the borders of 3 countries: Switzerland, France, and Germany.
We walked down a steep set of stairs to get to Marktplatz, which was busy with a market and lots of tourists checking out Basel’s popular red Rathaus (town hall).
Thankfully, driving out of Basel was easier than getting into it, and we drove home tired but relaxed.