A weekend in Basel

I’d flown via Basel to visit a local music festival in France (Les Eurockéennes), so it seemed a good place to stop off for a few days. Like most things Swiss, it runs very well - transport was easy, and there’s plenty to do.

A panorama of the Rhine taken from the middle of a bridge.
A photo of a zebra crossing in Basel.
A photo of tram tracks and painted white stripes on a stretch of road.
A photo of the frosted glass garage door of a fire station. There's a sign that reads 'feuerwehr' (fire department), and a symbol with a red no entry sign.
A panorama taken from a bridge over the Rhine at nighttime. There are buildings in the distance lit up and lights reflected in the water.

Swimming in the Rhine

If there’s one thing everyone should do in Basel it’s to swim in the Rhine. Without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. You put all your belongings in a dry bag, jump in upstream, and then float towards the city centre. There’s lots of places to get out and have a beer whilst you dry off. The water was warm (ish!) and crystal clear. I plan to go back to Basel just so I can have this amazing experience again. I was slightly nervous putting my dslr and passport in the dry-bag, but they were fine.

A photo of two dry bags on the floor.
A photo of Ed Horsford swimming in the Rhine

Visiting all the museums

Basel has a great collection of museums to explore. They’re also rather pricey. I bought a museums pass (hint: cheaper in nearby Germany) to get access to the lot for the next year. It worked out about the same as buying tickets for just the places I was interested in, but this way I got to go to other museums I wouldn’t have otherwise visited, and hundreds more in Switzerland, Germany, and France are included too.

In two days I visited:

Basel Historical museum

The Basel Historical museum had various dioramas of the type I remember seeing in natural history museums of my childhood. What stood out for me were the displays they’d set up showing how they construct the dioramas. Including various models in different stages of completion.

A photo of a display case showing many small models of people and various tools. The models are for use in historical dioramas.
A display case shows some of the techniques used by the Basel Historical museum to construct their dioramas.

Basel paper museum

The paper museum was an unexpected delight. I wish I’d had more time to explore. It covers paper-making, printing, binding, and so much more. As a type geek it was great to see their collection of movable type machines and other printing presses.

Macro photo of a roll of paper with small holes punched out of it. The roll is being fed through some machinery.
A craftsman makes a piece of movable type.

Pharmacy museum

A display case in the Pharmacy museum in Basel. Many small specimens can be seen on each shelf.
Several specimens in glass jars in a display case at the Pharmacy museum in Basel.

Kunstmuseum Basel

The Kunstmuseum's subtle yet striking signage.

The Kunstmuseum’s facade signage worked brilliantly. Subtle, yet strong enough to read in bright sunlight. Read more about it here.

A circular skylight. The surrounding ceiling and walls are dark concrete.
Photo of a light sculpture by Dan Flavin in the Kunstmuseum. The sculpture is a long fluorescent bulb stretching between two walls in the corner of a room. The bulb is the only source of light, and gives of a blue and white light.
untitled, 1969, by Dan Flavin