Week 1: Life in Basel+ Everything You Need To Know About Basel, Switzerland

It’s been more than a week since we landed in Basel, Switzerland.  For the people who heard this name for the first time (don’t mean that in a derogatory way, not like I knew it since my childhood days), Basel is the third most populous city in Switzerland and shares it borders with Germany and France.

Weather in Basel

The climatic conditions in Basel are almost as unpredictable as my sister’s mood. It does remind me of how Bangalore used to be–my mother would often wean off about how Bangalore can have all 4 seasons in 1 day. It’s kind of the same story in Basel: it rains more than you can pee and whenever the sun decides to shine, it manages to make you strip off your jacket. The days are bright and usually accompanied with chilly winds. 

Officially, it’s summer in Switzerland: but it could rain one day, and be very hot the next. You have to check the weather before stepping out of the house.

Getting Around/Transportation in Basel

After walking, buses and trams are the most common mode of transportation, obviously after walking. One can easily walk to most of the places in Basel – it’s a small city, after all.  There are two types of people here: people who have cars or those who make the most of public transportation. All modes of transport come with daily, weekly, monthly passes and there are lots of discount options for students (and children). More than a car, the parking can be an issue in Basel.

Language: Getting social in Basel

Swiss German is the normal dialect spoken around Basel, but due to its cosmopolitan outlook almost everything works here – French, German, English are the top three. The people over here appreciate you learning their language – the canton also offers you a free German language course as part of your registration process.

Migrating to Basel

Relocation is never easy, whether it is Basel or Barcelona. For families it’s all the more harder, with loads of documentation – visits to the embassies and the finale is when you register as a family in the canton where you stay. The registration process is extremely breezy if you have all the documents in place. The whole process took me a few hours after which you get a welcome kit: from museum coupons to theatre tickets to information on all aspects of lifestyle, the welcome kit to Basel covers everything that a newbie would need.

The People of Basel

Unlike the standard european impression, people in Basel are friendly and warm. No one goes out of their way to help you (managing boundaries) but during interactions – people greet you with a big smile and are kind and helpful. (very unlike my experience in Paris) 

Beauty (with no beasts)

We are in frigging Europe, that too in the best part of Europe – Switzerland. There is no dearth of beauty – people, places and architecture. From the time we landed to the afternoon I spent in a park today – while there is so much to see and do – there is beauty all around me.

Food and Fun: Eating Out in Basel

You get all sorts of cuisines here, since there are more outsiders than the locals – sushi, pasts and pizzas are at every grocery store. As for us, while my partner and I are extremely accommodating to new things, our little one is a fussy eater and needs her rice, potatoes and parathas. I am trying to do her justice in the little kitchen with minimal stuff that I have. I do not have the Indian masalas, Indian cookware and the essentials but we are managing the basic stuff. The baked goods in particular have become our personal favourites here – my daughter has a chocolate croissant every day. I eat the left overs…I am scared of my weight going up!

Lifestyle

It’s common for people to not stay in Basel almost every weekend. Since Basel shares it borders with France and Germany – Baden Baden and Black forest feature on the first trips to take. And then you have Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne and many others within the Swiss border itself. We will be taking up that mission and living up the tradition starting next weekend onwards. So do expect more stories…

Stay tuned to this space for more of my stories. You can also read about my flight experience while coming to Basel here. Follow me on Instagram for more updates on my Swiss adventures.

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