Over the summer, I had the amazing opportunity to spend 6 weeks in London as part of my university’s study abroad program. This post is the fifth in an 8-week series of travel posts, where I’ll be sharing everything from my favorite places in London to my adventures in other parts of Europe (5 countries + Scotland) to my travel tips and hacks.
Arriving in Switzerland
Switzerland wasn’t originally on my list of weekend trips, but it was one of the cheapest flights on SkyScanner the weekend that I decided to go! If y’all haven’t heard of SkyScanner before, it’s an awesome website that searches all of the major low-cost carriers in Europe (Ryan Air, Easy Jet, etc) and finds the cheapest flights among them! Usually the cheapest flights from the UK were to Germany, but this weekend, it happened to be Basel, Switzerland. Luckily I had just had lunch in London with a good family friend who lives in Basel, and she graciously offered to let me stay at her house and show me around for the weekend!
When I arrived in Basel, it was POURING rain. Pretty sure it rained more in Basel in an hour than it rained the entire time I was in London. Since it wasn’t exactly sight-seeing weather, Tina (family friend) took me into her office where we hung out until the clouds cleared! Below is one of the cute little tram stops in Basel.
When the weather finally cleared, we took a walking tour around Basel. Although there are 4 official languages in Switzerland, the people of Basel speak a dialect of German called Swiss German. Even though I don’t know a lick of German, I still found it easy to navigate and communicate with others. Below is the Jean Tinguely fountain. I wish I had taken a video, because all of the parts in this fountain move!
Next we stopped at this cute little outdoor cafe next to the fountain, where I discovered my new favorite drink called a gazoza (gazoza = gas = bubbles). This fruity and bubbly drink was the perfect way to cool off in the warm Basel sun. Bring these to America, please!
The next day, we stopped by Rathaus Basel, which is Basel’s town hall. The inside of the building is a gorgeous courtyard with lots of frescoes on the wall. I loved the diamond pattern on the roof!
I think one of the coolest parts of Basel is the Rhine River! The river has a surprisingly strong current, and I amazed to see how many people were swimming in it! I later learned that the river is a really common method of transportation in Basel. Almost every store sells “swim bladders”, which are waterproof bags that people put their work clothes in when they change into their bathing suits. When you seal these bladders, they’re completely waterproof, and act as a great flotation device as you float down the river. You can make out people swimming on the left hand side of the picture below!
Here’s my Rhine selfie!
Another cool thing about Basel is their river boats. For 2 Swiss Francs (~$2), you can take one of these boats across the river. These boats have no motor, and are completely carried by the current. See the line going across the top left-hand side of the screen? The boat is attached to this wire (so it stays on course) and once the boat pushes off from the shore, it sails along the river until it reaches the other side. It was a great way to see shoreline of Basel!
Impressions of Switzerland
If you think of beautiful, well-kept buildings, breathtaking scenery, and friendly locals when you think of Switzerland, you would not be wrong! Switzerland was as beautiful as I imagined it to be, and I loved the mix of cultures in Basel since it sits on the border of both France and Germany. Next time, I’ll bring my bathing suit and hop in the Rhine to truly complete my Basel experience. I would also love to explore the Swiss Alps and other parts of Switzerland!