BASEL BALE

BASEL (BALE)

Situated on the Rhine near France and Germany, Basel is home to a large medieval quarter as well as one of the oldest universities in Switzerland graduates include Erasmus and Nietzsche. Visitors can view art from Roman times to the 20th century and be serenaded by musicians on every street comer year-round.

TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION. Basel has three train stations: the French (SNCF) and Swiss (SBB) stations on Centralbahnpl. near the Altstadt, and the German (DB) station across the Rhine. Trains leave from the SBB to: Bern (114hr. every hr. 5:50am-l 1:50pm, 34SFr); Geneva (3hr. every hr. 6:20am-8:45pm, 71SFY); Lausanne (2%hr. every hr. 6am-10:30pm, 60SFr); Zurich (lhr. every 15-30min. 4:40am-midnight, 30SFr). Make international connections at the French (SNCF) or German (DB) stations. 25% discount on international trips for ages 16-25. To reach the tourist office, Schifflande 5, from the SBB station, take tram #1 to Schifflande; the office is on the river, near the Mittlere Rheinbrucke. ( 268 68 68. Open M-F 8:30am-6pm, Sa-Su 10am-4pm.) For information on bi, gay, and lesbian establishments, stop by Arcados, Rheing. 69, at Clarapl. (s’681 31 32. Open Tu-F noon-7pm, Sa 1 lam-4pm.) To reach the post office, Rtideng 1. take tram #1 or 8 to Marktpl. and backtrack one block, away from the river. (Open M-W and F 7:30am-6:30pm, Th 7:30am-8pm, Sa 8am-noon.) Poste Restante: Postlagemde Briefe fiir Firstname SURNAME, Riidengasse, CH-4001 Basel, Switzerland.

ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD. Basel’s shortcoming is its lack of cheap lodgings. Call ahead to ensure a spot at the only hostel in town, the Jugendherberge (HI) 0, St. Alban-Kirchrain 10. To get there, take tram #2 to Kun-stmuseum; turn right on St. Alban-Vorstadt, then follow the signs. (s272 05 72. Internet lOSFr per hr. Breakfast included. Laundry 7SFr. Reception Mar.-Oct. 7-10am and 2-llpm; Nov.-Feb. 2-llpm. Check-out 10am. Dorms 29-31SFr; singles 79SFr; doubles 98SFr. Jan.-Feb. 19 and Nov.-Dee. 2.50SFr less. Nonmembers add 6SFr. AmExMCV.) For Hotel Steinenschanze O, Steinengraben 69, turn left on Centralbahnstr. from the SBB and follow signs for Heuwaage; go up the ramp under the bridge to Steinengraben and turn left. (272 53 53. Breakfast included. Reception 24hr. Singles 110-180SFr, under-25 with ISIC 60SFr for up to 3 nights; doubles with shower 160-250SFr, lOOSFr. AmExMCV.)

Barfiisserpl. Marktpl. and the streets connecting them are especially full of restaurants. Wirtshaus zum Schnabel 0, Trillengasslein 2, serves tasty German fare. (Open M-Sa 9am-midnight. AmExMCV.) Vegetarians can dine at Restaurant Gleich , Leonhardsberg 1. (Open M-F 9am-9:30pm.) Head to Migros supermarket, in the SBB station, for groceries. (Open M-F 6am-10pm, Sa-Su 7:30am-10pm.)

SIGHTS. Groji-Basel (Greater Basel) and the train station are separated from Ktein-Basel (Lesser Basel) by the Rheine. The very red Rathaus brightens Marktpl. in Groji-Basel with its blinding fagade and gold and green statues. Behind the Marktpl. is the 775-year-old Mittlere Rheinbrucke (Middle Rhine Bridge) which connects the two halves of Basel. At the other end of Marktpl. is a spectacular Jean Tinguely Fountain, also known as the Fasnachtsbrunnen. Behind Marktpl. stands the red sandstone Munster, where you can visit the tomb of Erasmus or climb the tower for a spectacular view of the city. (Open Easter-Oct.15 M-F 10am-5pm, Sa 10am4pm, Su l-5pm; Oct. 16-Easter M-Sa 1 lam-4pm, Su 24pm. Free. Tower closes 30min. before the church. 3SFr.)

MONSTER MADNESS In 1529, Basel’s residents spiritedly joined the Reformation and ousted the bishop, keeping his crozier (staff) as the town’s emblem. The staff shares this honor with the basilisk (Basel-isk), a creature part serpent, part dragon, and part rooster, which caused what may be the world’s first and only public trial and execution of a chicken. In 1474, a hen allegedly laid an egg on a dung heap under a full moon, an action sure to hatch the horrible creature. The bird was tried, found guilty, and beheaded, and the egg was ceremonially burnt.

MUSEUMS AND ENTERTAINMENT. Basel has over 30 museums; pick up the comprehensive museum guide at the tourist office. The Basel Card, available at the tourist office, provides admission to all museums as well as discounts around town. (24hr. card 25SFr, 48hr. card 33SFr, 72hr. card 45SFr.) The ElKunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts), St. Alban-Graben 16, houses outstanding collections of old and new masters; admission also gives access to the Museum fiir Gegenwartskunst (Modem Art), St. Alban-Rheinweg 60. (Kunstmuseum open Tu and Th-Su 10am-5pm, W 10am-7pm. Gegenwartskunst open Tu-Su llam-5pm. lOSFr, students 8SFr, first Su of every month free.) At Museum Jean Tinguely, Grenzacherstr. 214a, everything rattles and shakes in homage to the Swiss sculptor’s vision of metal and movement. Take tram #2 or 15 to Wettsteinpl. and bus #31 or 36 to Museum Tinguely. (Open W-Su llam-7pm. 7SFr, students 5SFr.) The Fondation Beyeler, Baselstr. 101, is one of Europe’s finest private art collections, housing works by nearly every major artist. Take tram #6 to Fondation Beyeler. (Open daily 9am-8pm. M-F 16SFr, Sa-Su 20SFr; students 5SFr; 12SFr after 6pm.)

In a year-round party town, Basel’s carnival, or Fasnacht, still manages to distinguish itself. The festivities commence the Monday before Lent with the Morg-estraich, a not-to-be-missed, 600-year-old, 72hr. parade beginning at 4am. The goal is to scare away winter (it rarely succeeds). During the rest of the year, head to Barfiisserplatz for an evening of bar-hopping. Atlantis, Klosterberg 10, is a multilevel, sophisticated bar with reggae, jazz, and funk. (Open Tu-Th 1 lam-midnight, F ll:30am-4am, Sa 6pm-4am.) Brauerei Fischerstube, Rheing. 45, brews the delectably sharp WiHell Spezial (light special) beer. (Open M-Th lOam-midnight, F-Sa lOam-lam, Su 5pm-midnight. Full dinner menu from 6pm.)

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