Saturday, December 20, 2008

Basel Dec 15

Basel, Switzerland December 15, 2008

I slept later this morning than I expected. Partly I was just exhausted and partly it was because it stays dark until later in the morning, which was overcast anyway. Our room is really at the water line, which gives an interesting view. The breakfast choices were just about everything you could want. I had a cereal blend with yogurt, fruit, smoked salmon, juice and coffee. Just the thing to set you up for a morning of walking in the cold.

Basel is the meeting point of Switzerland, Germany and France. Peter and I had thought of was primarily French-speaking but this is definitely in the German-speaking area.

We took our morning tour of Basel. It was very interesting although quite cold. I hadn't realized Erasmus' strong connection to Basel or that he is buried in the cathedral. I also didn't know that Holbein was from Basel.

Basel had the first university in Switzerland, under the patronage of Pius II, who also had a Basel connection. We saw the area of the spice merchants and their guildhall. We saw the town hall, which was restored, redecorated and expanded in 1901 to commemorate Basel's entrance into the Swiss Confederacy in 1501.

We ended at the Kunstmuseum. The art there is excellent. Peter really enjoyed the modern art, not just Picasso and Braque but also Klee, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Chagall. I spent most of my time looking at the Holbeins and the anonymous Master of Basel. There was an early Breughel copy that was well-done as well as the original St. John Preaching. If we had more time, Basel would be worth a few days at least.

We came back and decided on the light lunch in the lounge, which worked out quite well. Now we are in the library listening to music. I was reading War and Peace but decided to write this instead. Now I can go back to reading and occasionally glancing at the River.

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