Let me show you my new neighbourhood

Well, not exactly. I’m not daft enough to show you my actual street or anything 😉 But I did take a photo from my balcony so you can all see how green and natural it is outside my window. Sadly, birds don’t really like to stay still so this is the best I could do:

BirdUgh, so blurry! Hopefully soon we will get a bird feeder so I can entice my feathered friends to come right up to my balcony. That tree is standing in a little “garden” area (some grass with a hedge around it which I haven’t figured out whether we’re actually allowed to go in yet) and beyond that is the street my building is located on, although you can’t actually access it from the street. If you look out the window at the other side of our flat, you can see more trees plus a kind of courtyard that’s between two building complexes – ours and the one opposite are connected by an underground parking garage that’s below the buildings and both complexes belong to a hospital in Basel. Apparently this kind of thing is common (hospitals randomly owning and renting out apartment blocks I mean, not parking garages under courtyards). The courtyard is where you enter the building. Here have a photo of a random street near mine. Because I won’t sure you a photo of my home but I have zero problem posting one of somebody else’s. Note all the trees/green plants. That’s pretty typical for the area we’re living in. (Also, construction. But ignore that.)

StreetTechnically, we don’t actually live in Basel proper, by which I mean Basel city. After looking at multiple flats there, we ended up extended our range to the surrounding towns in Basel-Landschaft (that’s the other Basel half canton – a canton being something like a German Bundesland/federal state. Basel and a few others are split in two, so you get half cantons. Obviously.). The place we ended up getting is in a small town (village?) just over the border from Basel city. But, although it’s technically Basel-Landschaft, we’re so close to Basel that it’s more like living in a suburb than a separate town. Just as an example, the tram to Basel Swiss train station (Basel SBB) takes 8 minutes – which is pretty much exactly as long as the tram journey to the train station took from my old flat in Karlsruhe (the one before Jan and I moved in together). Also, we’re only a couple of tram stops (or 10 minutes walk) from the zoo, which is clearly important 😉 Sadly, there are no red pandas at this one. Just around the corner from us is a little stream. It’s close enough that I can walk along it in my lunch break if I want to, and in fact the photo below was taken during a lunch break when I decided to walk along the stream to get to the post office (actually just a post counter in a supermarket, but the actual post office closes over lunch time!)

Stream

Slightly nicer than walking along beside the tram tracks or down a street that’s in the process of being dug up, which would have been the alternatives to the route along the stream. Also, remember when I said my perfect rainy day would involve going to see ducks during a lull in the rain? Totally possible from our new home!

Back at Easter, when I went down for a visit, we decided to go and find the local woods. It turned out they were only about a 20 minute walk from our flat! Here’s a mouse (I think?) that we spied on our walk:

Mouse?I was so proud of myself for managing to get that shot. Yay for my new camera!
There are various supermarkets close to our new flat. On the main street there’s a Coop, which I haven’t actually been to yet. Then just down the road from that is a Migros, which I have been to. Supposedly Migros is the cheaper of the two, which is why I’ve only been there although Jan occasionally stops at Coop in town on the way home from work. 10 minutes walk in the other direction (along the stream) there’s a Denner – the discount supermarket I told you about in a previous post. The relative cheapness there brings the prices down to about level with a non-discount supermarket in Germany, but it’s still better than doing all my shopping at Migros! I will still have to continue shopping at the expensive places though because Denner doesn’t see everything I want. Or at least that one doesn’t. And I don’t mean exotic things either… I’m talking things like tins of kidney beans! Apart from that, there’s a Migrolino in the neighbourhood. For those of you who are familiar with the UK, it’s comparable to a Tesco Express – basically a smaller supermarket that doesn’t sell everything but is conveniently located with better opening hours that normal supermarkets. Our particular Migrolino is open 365 days a year (so even on Christmas!) until 9 p.m. I don’t know if that’s common to all Migrolinos though.

This is my local Denner
This is my local Denner

So, nature in one direction, Basel proper in the other and excellent tram connections. What more could we need? Oh, and it’s also possible to walk to the Tinguely fountain in 25-30 minutes – we checked. Not bad at all! I don’t know what else to say, so just have some more pictures instead. Some are more “my” neighbourhood than others – a few are over the border in Basel Stadt.

So, that’s where I live now. Pretty isn’t it?

Neighbourhoods Around the World – Karlsruhe

Show me your neighbourhood around the world

A slightly different blog post today. I’m taking part in a series hosted by Annabelle over at The Piri-Piri Lexicon – Show me your neighbourhood around the world. The idea of this series is to take a little tour of other people’s neighbourhoods around the world through the lense of their camera. Every two days between now and the end of November, a different blogger will showcase their own nighbourhood and town. You can see who else is taking part and where else the tour is taking us by clicking on the link I included earlier. But for now, let’s have a look at Karlsruhe. I live in the Südstadt (literally “south city”) district.

First of all, I should tell you the rules:
– All photos must be of the town/neighbourhood you live in or are well acquainted with.
– All must have been taken by you.
– Please publish a maximum of 12 photos.
– 6 photos that MUST be included:

  1. a playground / play area
  2. a local mode of transport
  3. a typical house/building
  4. a street nearby
  5. a school, nursery or other education facility
  6. a market, supermarket or other shopping outlet

– (Up to) 6 other photos are up to you. Think typical and local.

I’ll start with my six mandatory photos. Most of them were taken in the rain purely because the last time it wasn’t raining, or at least cloudy, in Karlsruhe, I was at work in another city and therefore unable to take photos!

A playground:

This is one of three small play areas that are all in a row on the so-called “Grünstreifen” (green strip).

Play area

One advantage of taking photos of playgrounds in the rain is that you don’t have to worry about disturbing any children! Also, I’m pretty sure those little red elephants are mandatory for all German play areas… they’re everywhere 😉

A local mode of transport:

S-Bahn

The bright yellow trams and S-Bahns are a familiar sight in Karlsruhe. Trams are the smaller ones that serve the city and its suburbs, while the larger S-Bahns are capable of travelling on both tram tracks and the proper Deutsche Bahn train tracks and can thus travel to further away places, like Baden Baden or Germersheim.

A typical house/building:

There are probably single-family houses somewhere on the outskirts of Karlsruhe (like Waldstadt maybe?) but if, like me, you live in a fairly central part of town, you will definitely be housed in a flat (apartment).

Building

I chose the above building for my photo on the advice of Jan, who tells me that particular pattern of bricks is typical for the area. Lots of flats are located in buildings that have something else on the ground floor – in this case, it’s a bar.

A street nearby:

I didn’t want to post a photo of my own street on here (I have photos of myself… I’d prefer not to have them associated with an address, however vague) but here’s one in my neighbourhood. This is pretty typical for the part of Karlsruhe I live in:

Karlsruhe street

A school, nursery or other education facility:

Not being a parent or having particularly close contact with anyone who has children of school age, I have no idea about any of the schools in Karlsruhe. I know of three schools within 2-3 streets of where I live, and I chose to take a photo of this one purely because the building it’s in looks nice:

Karlsruhe school

Here’s another photo, from a different angle:

Karlsruhe school 2

Looking at the signs outside, I gathered that this building houses a Grundschule (primary school) and Realschule (secondary school for pupils who are seen as not too bright and therefore not expected to go on to study. The other secondary school forms are Gymnasium, which prepares the most intelligent kids for university, and Hauptschule for those children who are considered suiltable for only the most menial of tasks, such as collecting rubbish or factory work. Some areas also have Gesamtschulen, i.e. comprehensives, which are supposed to be for everyone, but in reality parents of the most intelligent children still send them to Gymansium, leaving the Gesamtschulen full of pupils who would otherwise have gone to Realschule or Hauptschule).

A market, supermarket or other shopping outlet:

I wasn’t sure about the policies on taking photos inside supermarkets, so I took the following very surreptitously using the camera on my phone, hence the terrible quality!

The above photos were taken at Scheck-In Center, one of the larger supermarkets in Karlsruhe. It’s actually pretty close to where I live, but I rarely go there because the way it’s located in relation to my flat means it’s so much more convenient for me to go into town. But the other day I arrived at the train station to find that the next tram going anywhere useful would take me to Scheck-In, so off I went. Apart from selling all the usual goods you need for everyday life, Scheck-In Center is one of the places to go for anything you can’t find at “normal” supermarkets – such as vanilla extract or Cheddar cheese.

And now for some additional photos to hopefully give you an idea of what life is like in Karlsruhe.

Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof

Unless you come by car, the above “Hauptbahnhof” (main train station) is the first thing you will see in Karlsruhe. And if you’e a commuter, like me, you’ll feel like you spend half your life there! The original train station was further North (for those who know Karlsruhe, it was on Kriegstraße, between Ettlinger Tor and Mendelsohnplatz), but in 1902, the Baden parliament decided to build a new one to make room for the expanding city. Construction began on the current Hauptbahnhof in 1910 and it opened in the night between 22 and 23 October 1931, meaning it will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in just over a week’s time!

Notice all the bikes in the picture as well. I could have used a picture of a bike for my local mode of transport… people in Karlsruhe loooooove to cycle!

As soon as the sun comes out even a little bit, the grounds of Karlsruhe’s castle are the place to be! Everyone and anyone can be found there – people walking their dogs, teenage girls sun bathing, students drinking beer, people playing with frisbees, joggers, parents running around after children….

A rather wet Schlosspark
A rather wet Schlosspark

The only people around when I took the above photo were either walking their dogs or just passing through on their way to somewhere else – although I did spot one dedicated jogger! You certainly wouldn’t catch me jogging in such weather (although I apparantly have no problem going out in the rain for the sake of my blog… I suppose it’s a matter of opinion who is more crazy).

It might be raining, but I still need my walk!
It might be raining, but I still need my walk!

Karlsruhe pyramid

The pyramid on Marktplatz (Market Square) is one of Karlsruhe’s main landmarks. I bet there are very few residents who have never uttered or written the phrase “I’ll meet you at the pyramid”…

Nymphengarten Karlsruhe

For a city of 297,488 (in 2011, according to Wikipedia), Karlsruhe is pretty green. There are trees, flowers and small parks all over the place. The picture above was taken in the Nymphengarten, a small green space behind the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum).

That’s thirteen photos, which is technically one too many (I thought I’d compensate for the terrible quality of the supermarket photos by including two images!), so it’s time for me to stop now. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out the rest of the series? The next stop on the world tour is Japan. Links to previous entries and a schedule for the rest of the series can be found on The Piri-Piri Lexicon.