Hello! So, since September, I have been living in the teeny Swiss city that is Basel.
I’m in Basel pursuing my postgraduate studies at the University in the department of urban studies, and I’ll be there for the next year and a half. (Funnily enough, however, I’m finishing this old post while in South Africa…!)
Yes, it’s my first time in Switzerland, so while I’m dying to see lakes and cosy villages high up in the mountains, it’s great to be eased into it via Basel. No Alps here, but it is a lovely city with an old town – I love that it is a part of my routine to walk through this older part of Basel to get to my German language classes on the weekends or to window shop. I get to see a lovely albeit pricey street market in front of the Rathaus every morning; I get to investigate which tiny bakeries sell their breads at a reasonable price, and there’s a lot of art pieces to be seen in the storefronts of artisanal shops – possibly, I’m guessing, it’s because they participate annually in Artbasel?
It is true that Switzerland, as many have told me, is expensive. It’s common for locals to cross the border into Germany (easily reachable by tram, bike or bus) just to do their grocery-shopping. Eating out here doesn’t even seem to be too common a thing (since arriving, I’ve probably eaten out twice here). Traveling the country via train is as expensive as me choosing to go to Paris (so far, I’ve only gone to Bern because of administrative visa reasons, to Zurich because that was where I landed from my New Year flight from home, and to Lucerne because a friend was visiting!).
Can it get boring? Yes. Admittedly, it can. It’s too expensive to be doing something as mundane as watching movies, and bookstores with mostly German literature and a small stock of English books can have a limited appeal. I’m not cultured enough to enjoy a museum visit every weekend, and frankly speaking, I’m so much of an introverted homebody that I enjoy staying in most of the time.
But having said that, it’s a lovely, old, international city. It’s quiet and laid back. The Mittlerebrucke is always a good bridge to walk across on a good day, especially in the summer (it’s a treat seeing people swim in the river!), and the university buildings have an understated beauty to them. Even as I write this now in the comfortable, cool and sunny summer of Cape Town, I’m missing Basel!