So, how was your Thanksgiving?
For the first time, we spent Thanksgiving on our own- which was a bit sad. I did make a mini-Thanksgiving dinner on our European stove (i.e. in Celsius)- which was an adventure in itself.
We tried to make the most of the holiday though by taking advantage of the four-day weekend with a three-day trip to Basel, Switzerland.
Why Basel? Because it’s only a three and a half hour car ride from our apartment, and because it has one of the largest Christmas celebrations that kicks off the weekend of Thanksgiving. Christmas is my favorite holiday, so it seemed like a natural fit!
Our hotel was the Hotel au Violon– and a perfect choice for the Weinachtsmarket (Christmas market). It was about a block away from the center of the market, and had an amazing view (above). It was originally built in 1462 as part of a monastery attached to a church- but then used as a prison (until 1995!) before being converted to a hotel. Yes…they housed the prison next to a church…maybe they reformed all the prisoners and no longer needed it?
Regardless, it made the perfect spot for exploring the old town of Basel. With its sloped ceilings and wood floors, it had just enough of the old world charm I constantly crave. Brisket also enjoys good old world charm, but I seriously think he could sleep in a cave as long as there was a good pub nearby.
Basel was a nice town for getting our feet wet- it was easily walkable, and had all the hallmarks of a Swiss town- including crazy steep hills, cobblestones, and all the cheese you can eat (not pictured- all the cheese we ate).
It also had a lovely city hall- with great frescos and statues, and a beautiful river.
Overall, the Christmas market and the town were a lot of fun- but it was COLD. Emphasis on the COLD. I just wasn’t prepared – for Switzerland in November…I know, I know…but I had, crazily enough, believed the weather report of a 55 degree weekend.
It was not that warm.
Not even close.
Luckily the Christmas market delivered- and I picked up a stylish new hat to help keep warm.
Li also stayed warm by using us as pack mules…
Switzerland, though, is expensive. Especially coming from a U.S. perspective…The few souvenirs we got were reasonable enough- but food seemed to take up the largest amount of our budget. The dinner in the picture below, essentially eaten at an outdoor festival, cost about $60 US.
Yup, you read that right.
It was delicious though.
So, our overall grade for Basel? A solid B. Basel was easily walkable, even with a toddler, and has a good transit system- but it is expensive (as is most of Switzerland). While we didn’t get to see the world-class museums due to a young member of our traveling party, it was a great place to explore on a long weekend- and you can’t beat Swiss chocolate and cheese.
Li particularly liked the cheese…