Our Viking River Cruises Rhine Getaway began yesterday with a 15:00 flight from Minneapolis/St Paul through the night to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. There we caught the 9:15 flight to Basel/Bâle/Basilea, Switzerland (Swiss cities often have names in German, French, Italian, and/or Romansh).
Arriving about 10:40 at the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, we had to be sure to exit into Switzerland, not France or Germany!
We were unable to purchase the BaselCard at the airport, and few seemed to know about this city pass. Tourist information sent me to the SBB (Schweizerbundesbahn/Swiss Federal Railway) who said the card was available at the main train station. We asked the Viking River Cruise representative who met us at the airport, and he said we would get a museum pass at the ship (not!). Meanwhile Kent visited an ATM to get Swiss Francs.
We were hurried onto motor coaches (with the Viking logo) and driven into the city where the Viking Gullveig ship was docked near St Johanns Tor/St John's Gate. The normal docking location is at Dreiländereck/Three Countries Corner, so we missed the landmark where the three countries meet, but we were now conveniently close to the old city.
|View of Basel from the ship Viking Gullveig|
Johanniterbrücke/St John's Bridge and
Mittlere Rheinbrücke/Middle Rhine Bridge
It was 11:30, and Viking graciously provides a light buffet lunch for both departing and arriving passengers who are around at that time. We enjoyed some salad, pasta, and/or sandwiches, then began our own exploration of Basel. The Program Director's only information was that there is a BaselCard, but that because today was Good Friday and a local holiday, everything would be closed (not!).
The Viking staff offered a Welcome Walk at 13:00 and 15:00, a leisurely walk through the city center, which we did not take because of our own tour. I think the 15:00 was not attended due to pouring rain.
We walked the one block to St Johanns Tor to the tram stop.
|St Johanns Tor/St John's Gate (c. 1356)|
|'Tango' tram built by the Swiss company Stadler|
First the Vivarium/Aquarium (1972):
|Garden eels including the Heteroconger hassi/Spotted garden eel,|
Gorgasia preclara/Splendid garden eel (striped),
and the larger Heteroconger longissimus/Brown garden eel
|Ape species Homo sapiens|
|Bird House door handle|
Suricata suricatta/Slender-tailed Meerkat
Stopped in the Bahnhof/Railway Station (1854, designed by Emil Faesch and Emmanuel La Roche):
|Electric RE 460 039-1 locomotive 'Rochers de Naye'|
'Flirt France' trainset RABe 522 204 from Stadler Rail
of the S-Bahn/commuter railway
|Strassburger Denkmal/Strasbourg Monument (1895)|
donated by French Baron Hervé de Gruyer
|Schindler Be 4/x tram #222|
|Bank for International Settlements HQ|
(1977, designed by Martin Burckhardt)
|Bank for International Settlements|
(1994, designed by Mario Botta)
|Historisches Museum Basel/Basel Historical Museum|
|Stadt Casino/City Casino (1876)|
At this point, Brynne and Paul headed back to the ship for a jet lag nap.
|Gymnasium St Leonhard (1899)|
|Kinetic sculptures erected on the site of the stage of the old city theater|
|In constant motion and in dialog|
like the actors and dancers who once performed here (KSS)
|Wisteria japonica (KSS)|
|Bibliothek des Kunstmuseums/Art Museum Library|
in the former Swiss National Bank building
(1936, designed by architects Rudolf Christ and Paul Bonatz)
|Kunstmuseum/Art Museum entrance|
|Former chapel, now a residence (KSS)|
|Hohenfirstenhof (c. 1356)|
|Bischofshof/Bishop's Court (1451-1458?)|
in Romanesque and Gothic styles) (KSS)
|Münster/Cathedral façade with statue of St George and the dragon|
|Münster/Cathedral west façade|
|Gymnasium/School (1589, oldest building in Münsterplatz)|
Friedrich Nietzsche taught here
|Pisonibrunnen/Pisoni Fountain (1874, architect Paolo Antonio Pisoni)|
(note the dog trough) (KSS)
|View down on the Münsterfähre/Cathedral Ferry|
|A few of the steps down to the ferry|
|Kent ringing the bell for the ferry|
|The ferry 'Leu' arrives|
The BaselCard gave us a free ferry ride.
|The ferry is tethered to an overhead cable;|
the current carries the ferry across the river
|Ferry cable over a "pulley"|
|View across the Rhein/Rhine River;|
note the small buildings on the wall
|Fischerstube, an Ueli Bier micro-brewery;|
Basel's smallest brewery
|No caption needed (KSS)|
|Mittlere Rheinbrücke/Middle Rhine Bridge|
|Mittlere Rheinbrücke/Middle Rhine Bridge's|
|Love locks on the chapel gate|
|Medieval artisan's houses on Rheinsprung|
(1898-1902 by Eduard Vischer and Eduard Fueter)
with the Sevogel Brunnen/Fountain (1899)
|Staatsarchive/State Archive frog water spout (KSS)|
|St Martinskirche/St Martin's Church (parts date to 1287,|
considered to be the oldest parish church in Basel)
|Rathaus/City Hall (1504-1521, Burgundian Gothic style)|
|Animal carvings on façade windows (KSS)|
|Rathaus/City Hall north|
|Rathaus/City Hall south|
|Carved faces on courtyard windows (KSS)|
|Geltenzunft/Guild of the Wine Merchants|
(façade dated 1559-1596 by Daniel Heintz)
|Cabin double bed|
|Cabin desk and big screen TV|
|Painting of Gullveig, a figure in Norse mythology|
|One of two hot beverage machines|
Today the ship set sail at 19:00 to head down the Rhein. The Rhein starts in the Swiss Alps, and tumbles down into the Bodensee/Lake Constance. Leaving Lake Constance, it becomes a serious river and measurement in kilometers starts. Basel is located at Kilometer/KM 165-169. The measured portion of the Rhein is to KM 1,033 at Hoek van Holland, Netherlands. The entire Rhein is 1,232 km.766 miles long.
Dinner began at 19:00.
|Brynne and Paul at dinner|
Additionally, Caesar salad, pan-fried fillet of salmon, pan-roasted chicken breast, and pan-seared New York steak were always available.
Each night two wines were suggested (Grüner Veltliner and Blauer Zweigelt from Winery Mörwald, Wagram, Austria). It seemed the complimentary wine was unlimited, and soft drinks and beer were also complimentary.
We were not up for after-dinner music and dancing!
Next: Black Forest.