February photos

Happy March everyone! I can’t believe another month is over already. Today is Jan’s birthday, so tonight there shall be a nice meal and gifts 🙂

Last month I started a new series in which I wanted to share the photos I took throughout the month that didn’t warrant a blog post of their own. So, with another month now over, it’s time to share February’s photos.

Nobody needs this many (bad) photos of small birds but I just can’t resist their cuteness!

The snow returned (briefly) and I discovered once again that it’s really hard to take photos while snow is actually falling from the sky!

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The photo above was taken on a Friday morning. The sun came out in the afternoon and melted everything that had managed to settle… and would you believe the next day was bright sunshine and highs of 12°C? The weather has been so confusing lately!

I had a week off at the end of the month and on a particularly sunny day I went for a walk into town (and beyond). It was 22°C that day. In February! I mean, it was nearly March, but still… 22°C!

There were signs that spring was approaching! Can you spy the bee below?

I walked all the way to the Birsfelden hydroelectric plant, which means nothing to you so you’ll just have to trust me that it was a reasonably long walk 😉 2km further and I would have been in Germany, but instead I decided to cross the river and head back since it was getting on for 3 p.m. and I still had to cook tea.

Look how blue the water is? Aah, I love living here!

And, to finish off, a yummy treat! Jan and I finally made it to the chocolate café I’ve been saying I want to go to ever since we moved here. I don’t even care that I went way over my calorie limit for that day -it was so, so worth it! Chocolate heaven ❤

And that was my February in photos. Tomorrow there will be a proper February recap post – with less imagery and more words (the type that end with -ing 😉 )

Laufenburg Cross-Border Christmas Market

This is the final post for my 2016 Take 12 Trips challenge, then I will be all caught up. So, let’s get on with it shall we?

Laufenburg in Aargau, Switzerland and Laufenburg in Baden, Germany are two towns that used to be one… until Napolean decided to place the Swiss/German border right in the middle of the Rhine, leaving the two parts of the town in two different countries. A bridge connects the two, and every year the towns join together to hold a cross-border Christmas market, with stalls in each of the towns and also across the bridge. I loved the idea of a Christmas market in two countries at once and as soon as I read about it I knew I wanted to go. The market is only on for one weekend in December, but luckily we had time that weekend – and Laufenburg is only about a 20-minute train ride away.

On arriving in the Swiss Laufenburg, we immediately saw the ruins of a castle on the hill, so that was our first stop. You can climb the tower that is all that remains of the castle and get a nice view of both Laufenburgs. We could actually see the market from up there as well, but I couldn’t get a photo because there were trees in the way.

Back down from the tower, we took a wander through town in the general direction of the river, working on the assumption that we would have to come across the bridge (and thus the Christmas market) somewhere down there. The town turned out to be really pretty, so of course I took photos.

After a while, we reached the Rathaus (town hall), where we could already see signs of the Christmas market.

The Christmas market stands did look very cool crossing the bridge! Also, the two photos below were taken from different countries.

Before buying anything from the Christmas market, we had a wander through, across the bridge and into Germany, to see what was on offer. The German side turned out to be very pretty too! (Unlike in Rheinfelden, where Switzerland got the pretty old town while Germany has nothing worth looking at.)

Apologies for the photo overload… and I haven’t even included all of them!

There was a Rathaus on the German side as well, and the Christmas market ended on the square in front of it. From town hall to town hall, via the bridge 🙂

By this time it was getting a bit chilly, so it was time for some Glühwein. We chose a stand that was selling a cherry version. Then we moved on to another stand for a bacon waffle… I had never seen anyone put bacon bits in waffle batter before but it was very tasty!

Having eaten , we wandered our way back through the German side and back onto the bridge, where we picked up a Christmas gift for Jan’s mum and grabbed another Glühwein.

Back on the Swiss side, we found another bit of market round the corner from the bridge, bought some biscuits and a marshmallow snowman from a stand run by a school (the snowman later went in some hot chocolate) and even spied a Santa on a motorbike before deciding it was time to head back to catch our train.

I was expecting Laufenburg market to be tiny, just going across the bridge with maybe one or two stands on either side, but it turned out to have a lot to offer. There are various different food and drink stands along with ones selling hand-made items (there were some lovely bird feeders!), jams and condiments, candles and more. They certainly go to a lot of effort for something that’s only on for three days! The Christmas market and both of the towns are well worth a visit, and we’ve already decided that it would make a nice day trip with any visitors we happen to have in the summer. If you’re ever in the area and fancy doing something in two countries in one afternoon I would definitely recommend Laufenburg!

This was my December trip for Take 12 Trips 2016, and meant I had completed the challenge for the second time!

 

Photo an hour: 17 December 2016

Saturday was the final photo an hour of 2016, so obviously I had to join in. Some of you might have seen that I posted some of the photos on Twitter when I had a wifi connection, but for most of the time I was out and about with no Internet, so the majority of these are totally new. Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. A different start for a change – checking what’s in my advent calendar (don’t worry, the kettle was already on and tea was had shortly after!)

11:30 a.m. Time for a shower.

12:30 p.m. On the tram heading to the train station.

1:30 p.m. Just arrived in Laufenburg (clock as evidence that I took my photo on time 😉 )

2:30 p.m. Cherry mulled wine in the German town of Laufenburg

3:30 p.m. Back on the Swiss side of the river to catch a train home – the train you can see in the photo is the one we took.

4:30 p.m. After a quick stop in town to pick something up, we were waiting to catch another tram.

5:30 p.m. Home, taking advantage of the brief free time to make some more Christmas cards

6:30 p.m. Another card made up and ready to post.

7:30 p.m. Feuerzangenbowle at Basel Christmas market.

8:30 p.m. Meeting a friend for dinner.

9:30 p.m. In my 2016 recap, I said I was meeting friends for fondue. Since the person who suggested fondue was ill and the rest of us had eaten it recently, I went for something equally Swiss: raclette. Yes, that is pretty much a plate of cheese!

10:30 p.m. Heading home – the window display in the toy museum looked rather impressive!

11:30 p.m. We were in for the night, so that meant time for pyjamas and fluffy socks. I was in bed by midnight so this was the final photo of the day.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

What did you get up to on Saturday? I hope it was lovely, whatever it was.

Kandinsky, Marc & Der Blaue Reiter at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen

Hello my lovelies! It’s been a whole week since I last posted (and almost as long since I came to visit anyone else’s blog. Sorry about that… I will be over soon!). Visitors, work and card making have conspired to keep me away from this little space of mine! But now I’m back with a post about a visit to an art gallery, which counted for November in Take 12 Trips. That means I’m actually caught up with Take 12 Trips posts since I haven’t actually taken my December trip yet!

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Outside the Fondation Beyeler building

At the beginning of November, a friend came to visit us because he wanted to go to an art exhibition in Basel… or rather in Riehen, a neighbouring town. The exhibition is actually still on at Fondation Beyerler until 22 January and it’s all about the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, and an almanac they wanted to produce called “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider), which would collect together artwork and writings from various artists. It was supposed to be published annually, but only one ever appeared, in 1912. After that war got in the way and Franz Marc was actually killed at Verdun in 1916.

You were allowed to take photos of some of the art in the gallery (some things had a “no photos” symbol beside them), so here are a few of the ones I took:

Most of the work was too abstract for me, but it was interesting to look at – and especially to see Marc’s transition from relatively normal looking animals (in funny colours) to things that could juuust about still be recognised as what he claimed they were. Kandinsky is really not to my taste though!

After looking at the art, we headed out into the gardens, which at the time were filled with lovely autumn colours. A few photos from there:

Touristy bit: To get to Fondation Beyerle, take tram number 6 to Fondation Beyeler. You can also take tram 2 to Riehen Dorf, but from there you will have to walk a little bit.

This art gallery visit was my November trip for Take 12 Trips 2016. One more trip to go!

Rheinfelden and Augusta Raurica

Wow, my last post got a bit deep, didn’t it? I think it’s about time I counteracted that with another travel post.

In September, Jan’s dad came to visit us for a weekend and we took a day trip to Rheinfelden and Kaiseraugst. I’ve already shared photos of Rheinfelden on the blog once, but our last visit was in December. This time the sky was a lot less grey!

We didn’t cross over into the German Rheinfelden on this visit (it’s really not worth it, except to say you walked across a border), but we did go onto the little island that can be accessed from the bridge. It was a boiling hot day and plenty of people (and dogs!) were bathing in the river.

Once we’d seen enough of the island, it was time to head back to the train station and on to Kaiseraugst, home of the Augusta Raurica Roman site.

We walked for ages through farmland, the sun baking us alive and birds circling overhead.

Eventually we spied some Roman ruins. This is the ruins of a temple:

We had been following signs for the amphitheatre because we thought that was what we wanted to see. Turns out there isn’t much left of the amphitheatre:

What we were actually looking for was just the plain old theatre, so that’s where we headed next.

Aha… that’s more like it!

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Augusta Raurica hosts events throughout the summer (including a Roman festival) and on this particular day they were setting up for a concert. Luckily we managed to get in and have a look around before they blocked off the entrances.

There’s also an indoor museum area (with a Roman house), which we did not go into, and a few other Roman bits and bobs dotted around.

After enjoying a nice cold beer, we walked back towards town past the train station and down to the river… instead of taking another train, the plan was to travel back to Basel by boat. We had a bit of time to spare, so we took off our shoes and stood on some steps with our feet in the water. It was lovely and refreshing!

The boat back to Basel passes through two locks, at the Augst and Birsfelden run-of-the-river power plants.

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll only include a few of the photos I took during our boat trip. Also, until we were actually approaching Basel I have no idea where the majority of the photos were taken.

Our boat was the Christoph Merian, for those who are interested.

All in all it was a lovely day out and one I would definitely take again if future visitors showed an interest.

This was my September trip for Take 12 Trips 2016 (I’m slowly catching up!)

Autumn days…

We woke up on Saturday to rain, which continued for the rest of the weekend and is forecast to carry on until at least next Monday so I thought I would upload some photos I took a few weeks ago to remind myself that autumn can be nice when it tries.

All the photos were taken between the 16th and 30th of October, and it was actually not that easy to find signs of autumn! The first time I went out, the trees were still mostly green, and by the end of October a lot of them had lost their leaves completely… it seems they changed directly from green to brown this year. To prove my point, can we please just consider the following two photos, which were taken precisely one year apart along the same stretch of path (although sadly not in the exact same spot so we can’t get a direct comparison)

Apparently Basel used up its best colours last year to welcome us to our new country. I shall have to make a point of going out on the same date next year to see what the trees are doing then.

Happy new week, readers. I hope Monday is less grey and miserable where you are!

The basilisks of Basel

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The basilisk is a legendary reptile said to be “king of the serpents or snakes”. Allegedly it was hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad (making it kind of the opposite of a cockatrice, which is hatched from a cockerel’s egg that was incubated by a serpent or toad). Part reptile and part bird, the basilisk is usually described as a crested snake, or as a cockerel with a snake’s tail. A basilisk can kill you with a look or a breath, while it in turn can only be killed by a weasel,  a cockerel’s crow or by being made to look at its own reflection.

The basilisk is also the heraldic animal of Basel. Various legends connect the city with the mythical beast – probably thanks to the similarity of the names (Basilea is another name for Basel, which makes the connection even more obvious). One legend has it that a basilisk once lived in a cave below the site of what is now the Gerberbrunnen (tanner’s fountain) another that a merchant once brought a basilisk to Basel. In 1474 a cockerel was sentenced to death in Basel. His crime? He was accused of having laid an egg, which of course went against nature, and the citizens of Basel were afraid that said egg would hatch into a basilisk. The cockerel was beheaded following a proper trial and the offending egg cast into the fire.

Below, you see the Gerber fountain. The writing tells the story of the basilisk that lived below it, but more poetically than I did.

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Given the above, you can naturally find many basilisks in Basel. You can hardly walk down a street without seeing one! Today I want to share some of those basilisks with you.

The most obvious basilisks come in the form of a fountain. If you spend any time in Basel, you will come across a basilisk fountain sooner or later. These fountains go all the way back to 1884, when they were the winner of a competition. Originally there were 50 of them. Now there are apparently 28, although I haven’t seen them all. The water in the basilisk fountains can be drunk, and my favourite feature (other than the obvious fact of the basilisk) is that each one has a little bowl at the bottom so dogs can have a drink too!

All the basilisks along the Rhine face towards the water… apart from one. You can see it in a couple of the photos above. This is the basilisk that stands across the river from the cathedral. The idea is that this one faces away from the Rhine to allow people to take a photo with both the basilisk and the cathedral. Ironically, you can’t actually see the cathedral in either of my photos above!

Next up, the giant basilisk from the Wettstein bridge… another one that’s hard to miss if you find yourself in the right place!

As you can probably tell by the sky, those photos were taken at different times. I have a thing for taking the same photos over and over 😉

Originally this big basilisk was one of four, two of which stood at each end of the bridge. All four basilisks still exist, but only  this one still stands at the original location. One has been exiled and now stands somewhere by Lake Lucerne, another stands in the courtyard of a building called “Zum Basilisk” and I have no idea how to get in to see him. But the fourth and final one stands at the entrance to the “Lange Erlen” animal park… and I took a trip there just so I could get photos of him for you:

Many companies in Basel have appropriated the Basel for their name (well, wouldn’t you?). There’s a Basilisk hotel – with its own basilisk standing outside – a local radio station called Basilisk and a Basilisk electronics company. One of the local breweries even named a beer Basilisk (and a very nice beer it is too – can recommend!).

There are various basilisks (or creatures that I assume are basilisks!) at the town hall, including a golden one sitting a Roman soldier’s helmet, and several on top of the SBB train station.

Various other basilisks are dotted around the place… rendered in metal, carved into walls, sitting on buildings… You’ll find that a lot of them are holding shields with the “Baselstab” or Basel staff, a stylised version of a bishop’s staff that is emblem of Basel, going back to the days when it was Catholic (it isn’t any more). After all, as the heraldic animal it’s the basilisk’s duty to hold the coat of arms!

I haven’t said where most of the basilisks featured here are, partly because I don’t remember where every single photo was taken, but also because I want to encourage people to spot the basilisks themselves as they walk around (hint: look up a lot!). You may have been overwhelmed by the photos in this post, but trust me there are many, many more to be found if you keep your eyes open!

So, what do you think? Fancy coming to Basel for a basilisk hunt?