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Let's Do It Again - Basel Switzerland The 2nd Time Around

View The Mountains Call Again - Switzerland April 2023 on littlesam1's travel map.


Basel on the Rhine River

When I first started traveling years ago I never wanted to really visit a city or location more than once. I told friends and other travelers that there were so many places I wanted to see I did not have time to return to someplace I had already seen once. Of course that was pure travel naivety on my part. Then after a few years I fell in love with some locations and truly wanted to see them again. But there are locations that I really had no big desire to return to a second time. Basel was one of these places. I love Switzerland. It is my favorite country I have visited. And Basel was my least favorite city I had visited there. I've been to to Switzerland four times times now. I have been to Zurich on three of those visits. And I would return to Zurich again any time. Each trip to Zurich has a required a visit to the mountain over looking the city for a cliff side glass glass of wine or cocktail at the Auto Klum on top of Uetilberg.


Aperol Spritz at Uto Klum 2023

If I return to Zurich again I would go to Uetilberg and visit the Uto Klum again with no question. But Basel was another story. I first went there in 2003. It was a lifetime ago now. My life has changed so much since those days. And there was nothing of interest that was calling me back to Basel. Mark and I went to Zurich in April 2023. This was our third visit to Switzerland and our second to Zurich. We had eight days to spend in Zurich and a five day Swiss Travel Pass for day trips. Mark had suggested Basel as a place he was interested in seeing. He liked the idea that it was on the German and French border and wanted to go there. I told him I had been to Basel and was not really impressed. It was probably my least favorite location I had visited in Switzerland. There was nothing awful about it. I just did not find it as interesting as many other cities I had seen in Switzerland. But it was not a long train ride to get there. And we did have five travel days to explore so we ended up in Basel on one of those days.

When I visit a city or a town for the first time I am always busy snapping photos, checking out restaurants, visiting churches and museums, the typical tourist stuff. But I don't always notice the small unique things around me. I am two busy trying to take in the over all experience of the location. When I do return a second time it's usually a different experience. My photos end up being detailed small objects. The massive churches I have already seen and photographed. The river banks are already in my collection of photos. So I find myself focusing on the small details that I never notice on an initial visit. But I ust was not sure about Basel. I did not think I would much more of interest on my second visit than I had on my first.

I still took photos of the churches on this second visit of course. When I was in Basel in 2003 the Grossmunster was covered with scaffolding, as many churches are when I travel. My photo was disappointing of course from all of the construction


However when I returned in April 2023, twenty years later I was able to get a photo free of scaffoling.


Basel Grossmunster on the Rhine River 2023 sans scaffolding

But I did find another church this time covered in scaffolding to include on my annual church renovation travel photos. I just expect this when I travel.


Elizabethenkirche - Basel under scaffolding 2023

As I walked through Basel on this visit I had a very different experience than I did in 2003. I noticed many small details that I simply passed by on my initial visit. These are not big things or necessarily important things. But they are things I found interesting making Basel a much more fun experience this time.

I noticed people sitting along the banks of the Rhine River. I don't know that I would have paid any attention to them on my initial visit. I was too busy looking for the "big picture" experience of Basel. But they had the right idea. Perhaps it was their second visit also.


I walked across this bridge several times in 2003. I even had a photo taken of me on the bridge. But I did not notice a lot of details. On this visit I saw more than a bridge. I noticed a lady on the sidewalk asking for coins bringing the human element into focus of Basel.


This one makes me laugh. I saw a head of a king on the side of a building sticking his tongue out at people was they walk by. It's a small detail but it made me laugh.


Lällekönig - King sticking out tongue - 1914

I have also been learning a lot of German from my time in Basel. While labeling and editing my photos of small details I have seen many words that I did not know. Lälle könig interprets as Little King in my Google search. I also learned that it is a well known symbolic figure in Basel and has probably existed since the 17th century. The house where he is hanging today was built in 1914.


I saw this sculpture of St. George Slaying the Dragon over a fountain. Labeling the photo I realized I had never read the story about St. George and the Dragon. I had seen images before and even a know album cut called The George and Dragon from an old Herman's Hermits album (now that is telling my age!) So I took some time when I got home and researched the legend of St. George. Thanks Basel for that interesting lesson.


We walked past a restaurant called Papa Joe's. It's a rather odd restaurant in Basel. It's menu consists of American and Mexican food choices and I read that it's difficult to get a reservation here. However what caught my attention was this unusual mural over the restaurant. There is an angel on the left of the mural. And then three naked ladies or perhaps angels flying toward what looks like a naked Jesus with a cape. I am not sure exactly what anything represents here. But I was fascinated by the image and had to get a photo of it.


Amazon leading a horse

Here is another sculpture that caught my attention. This is titled Amazon Leading A Horse. It was created by Carl Burckhardt. I found out it was his last work before his death in 1923 and it was donated to the city in 1926. It is one of his best known works and it is on the Mittlere Brücke. It is also his last work. The casting was done after his death. I am sure I will return to this statue again and do more research. I know it is an interpretation of an ancient statue. The girl is looking across the river in this location. And I am sure it has some historical significance for it's placing.


I saw this bar and restaurant called the Braunen Mutz (The Brown Hat). It has bear images on it's wall and a metal bear symbol hanging over its door. I know bears are important images in Switzerland so this caught my attention. But I was surprised when I translated the name to find it call The Brown Hat. But all of this continued to make this visit Basel fun for me.


This is probably my biggest surprise of my visit. There is a Rodan sculpture in Basel that I just happened to walk past after leaving the train station into the city. Les bourgeois de Calais (The Burghers of Calais) by Rodin, 1884 - 1886 ~ outside Kunstmuseum in Basel. I am a huge fan of Rodan's works so I was thrilled to have seen this. However when I walked past it I did not realize it was a Rodan or that it had any importance. I only knew that I really it and was fascinated by it. Not until later in my research did I realize who created it.

As we were leaving Basel I told Mark that I found the city much more fascinating on this visit and that I was glad I had returned. He told me he was surprised as he was not very impressed with Basel at all, much like me on my first visit. He may have to return again and see if he finds it more interesting the second time around. I'll take the train to Geneva that day. Although I had a wonderful experience revisitng Basel, it once again was still my least favorite city I have visited in Switzerland. But it was certainly worth a second chance.

From bronze statues of Poseidon ...


To dragons hovering over bridges...


To me taking selfies with strange murals ...


I thoroughly enjoyed my second visit to Basel. I was a member of Virtual Tourist, a travel web site that no longer exits, when I first visited Basel in 2003. I wrote on that site that Basel had the opportunity to become a travel destination in the future. The possibility was there for the future if the city had the resources to work on it. Twenty years later in 2023 I still say that Basel has the potential but still needs some attention to detail.

I am glad I returned. I am glad I got to notice the small and unusual details that I missed on my first visit. So I lift a glass to Basel and a cheer because I enjoyed it much more the second time around.


Posted by littlesam1 17:47 Archived in Switzerland Tagged switzerland basel rhine_river rodan

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Interesting. You know I have been to Basel twice and reading your blog made me look back at mine, because I started out by saying I didn't find Basel at all interesting on my first visit, didn't want to go back and ended up really enjoying it. How funny! I'll put the link here if you are interested, just because I experienced much the same thing, though I was also really tired on my first visit having travelled overnight.


I'm glad you got to enjoy the city in the end. In some ways going back takes the pressure off. You don't have to see everything. You can just relax.

All the best, Irene

by irenevt

I will go check out your blog. I am glad to know it's not just me though and that someone else had similar feelings about Basel.

by littlesam1

I reckon you noticed and photographed these details not only because it was your second visit but also perhaps because you have become a more conscious traveller, looking at places more closely than in the past?

by ToonSarah

I think you are right about that Sarah. I have learned a lot since my first visit to Switzerland 20 years ago about travel and photography. I used to joke give me a ten gig chip for my camera and I will return home with one really good photo. Now I will admit to at least five good ones!

by littlesam1

I must still be naive then, I rarely visit anywhere (abroad) twice. It's not that I wouldn't want to but I just work too much. When it is struggle to get time off from work, when I eventually do, I would like to head somewhere new :)
Nice that you enjoyed Basel better this time, cheers! :)

by hennaonthetrek

glad you did return just for the amazing pictures and of course, what is not to like if you can end your day with a delicious liquid in your hands (for me that would be a glace of wine, but still ... why not enjoy the good thins in life!) :)

by Ils1976

ILS1976 Thanks for the comments. It's always nice to know some one is reading a blog you wrote. And I also appreciate that you took time to look through some of my photos and left stars on the them.

by littlesam1

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