Basel, Switzerland, is a border town between Germany and France. Situated along the Rhine River, Basel is steeped in history, yet it is a very cosmopolitan city.
As we strolled through town, the guide explained the architecture and city life. Many streets are pedestrian only, but you have to be aware of people riding bicycles. Basel is one of many European cities where you see how many people use their bicycles as their transportation year-round. We first saw the Basel Munster, the 13th-century Gothic cathedral that sits high above the Rhine River with two towers.
After the guided tour, we climbed the 242 steep wooden stairs to the top of the tower. After that, you could walk out a small door and walk around to the other tower. From there, you get an overwhelming view of the city of Basel and the foothills of the Black Forest. From the terrace in the back of the cathedral, you have a great view of the Rhine River and the many bridges connecting the city's two parts. On the Rhine in Basel, there is a boat you can take across the river called Mr. Faare; this is a non-motorized boat pulled on a wire across the river and guided by the current to take it back and forth across the river. This mode of water taxi is still used today.
We were first introduced to the locks on the bridges in Basel. These were not locks as in locks to move ships down a river by the rising and lowering of the water. Instead, these locks were "locks of love." On many of the bridges throughout the Rhine tributaries, we saw padlocks locked to the bridges. The guide also explained that the children of Basel float down the Rhine in the summer months. I am not sure I would want my children floating down that unyielding current.
While we were in town, there was a festival with carnival games and one of the largest Ferris wheels I have ever seen. There was two older gentleman roasting chestnuts which brought back many memories of my Nana, who loved roasted chestnuts. It was a Friday afternoon, so many children were out of school, and everyone was enjoying the festival with their friends and family.
Basel is a great small European city to experience the culture of many of these small towns along the Rhine River.