Thursday, January 31, 2019

This year's Faschnacht pin

Had breakfast with my girl friends today, and picked up my Blaggedde (pin/badge) that supports local Cliques for Fashnacht. I really like this year's pin.   The clock is pointing until 4 - which is the time that Morgenstreich starts (4am that is).

Also - the crazy displays of the costumes are back in the stores

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Fasnacht Display

Today we went to the local Culture Museum so we could se ethe Fasnacht Display.  Our Winter End carnival is coming up in March, and so displays are starting to show up all over town.

Basel's Fasnacht dates back to the 1300s and is related to a bloodbath.  On the day before Ash Wednesday ins 1376, a tournament held on the Munsterplatz (our cathedral square) ended in a riot which is described in history books as the "Bose Fasnacht"

This Carnival like atmosphere following Ash WEdnesday predated the Reformation and are therefore far from being a defiant gesture against the Catholics in 1529.  The authroities tried to forbid Fasnacht in the 1500s. 

Masked figures were involved in the Monday after Ash Wenesday in Basel guilds and corporations based just outside the town walls.  They followed processions of military appearance which included masked figures and carnival like events.

The upper classes in the early 1800s withdrew from Fasnacht for a few decades.  They tried to turn it into the festival for the young.  Then, in the late 1800s, political topics started to be aired during Fasnacht and the lanterns started to make their appearance (although initially just during Morgenstreich).

The Culture Museum
 Fasnacht costumes

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Our prettiest library

I love this library that is in the city of Basel.  It is the largest and most asthetic of the GGG (geh geh geh) public libraries we have here.

It sits in a busy part of the city, but it is tucked away in this courtyard.  IT is a quiet and peaceful place (and right next to on of my favorite restaurants - 1777 Basel).

Unfortunately, this branch only has German books.  A few of the GGG libaries have English books, but not many.

But this one is the prettiest.  It holds 1000s of books, and it is something to see.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Best Friends

This weekend Finley had her best friend over for a sleep over.  Such a sweet girl - we are so glad she and Finley have become friends.

Finley and her buddy decided to make cinnamon rolls from scratch.  It was a long process, but they stuck with it, and they turned out great.  Very yummy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ski Camp and Museums

This morning, Cainan left for ski camp for the next 4 days.  Our kids are so lucky that skiing the Swiss Alps is compulsory to schools here.  It is a right of passage to spend time away from the parents for these week long trips, and I am happy that our kids have this opportunity.

This week it is Cainan's turn.  He is spending the next 4 days at Davos, Switzerland.  They went to the same ski camp last year.  Davos is in eastern Switzerland, so it is a bit of a train ride to get there.  But he doesn't mind.  He is with his friends, and not having to attend regular classes, so what could be better?

This is only Cainan's second time skiing.  It is a bit embarrassing, really, that we never became a skiing family.  Mat and I skiied growing up, but then we moved to the southern parts of the United States and were away from it for over 8 years.  We lived most recently, though, in Massachusetts, 5 minutes from a ski resort, and never picked it back up.  Our kids weren't really interested, and we didn't push it.

Now, however, it is part of their school cirriculum.  And they have enjoyed going to these camps.  I don't think if they will pick up skiing otherwise, but at least they get to go a little.

After dropping him off at the train station, I met my friend Marta for a museum visit.  We have museum passes that allow us to visit over 300 museums throughout Switzerland, France and Germany, so we need to get crackin'. 
Today we took in the Fuseli exhibit at a museum here in Basel. Fuseli is a Swiss artist who lived in the 1700s and was fascinated by ancient mythology, theater, and books. His favorite writers were Shakespeare and John Milton. The collection we saw today favored Greek mythology, Shakespeare and Milton. It was....interesting. Very dark. 
After our musem visit we had lunch and coffee at Pane con Carne and enjoyed a walk in some warm January sun along the Rhine. We were missing our 3rd partner in crime, Tiffany, today.

This is Thetis asks Hephaestus to Provide Achilles with Armour
 Romeo and Juliet
 Lady MacBeth
 This isn't Fuseli, but Marta and I really liked this.  It is a tapestry with all the countries flags
 My buddy Andy Warhol in their permanent exhibit

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Saying Goodbye is hard

Today my friend Marta and I took our friend Tiffany out to lunch.  This is the final lunch we will have here in Basel before she moves back to the United States.

It is hard, living as an expat, when it comes to making friends.  A lot of people I have met - especially here for the United Staes - are here with their husbands on temporary assignments.  Roche does assignments that last 2-3 years, and then the families go back to the staes.

And this is the case for Tiffany.  I met her soon after we moved here, and have really enjoyed getting to know her in the last year and a half.  She moved here from Boston, just like we did.  She and I and Marta have had a good time going into France together, checking out museums all around Switzerland, and having almost a weekly get together for lunch or coffee.  We are really going to miss her.

I am so grateful for the opportunity we have been given to live here.  Everyday, I am grateful.  But saying goodbye to people who I really have enjoyed getting to know is a very hard part of this expat way of life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


I do most of my grocery shopping across the border in Germany.  I find it to be much cheaper than Switzerland grocery stores, PLUS we get a large portion of the taxes back if we get our receipts stamped at the border before crossing back.  So it is a win/win.

I rent a car once a week to grocery shop now.  I used to take the tram exclusively, but I was finding that the 45 minute trip each way plus having to haul arm loads full of groceries was quickly getting old.  I joined something here called "Mobility".  It is an annual subscription where you pay a nominal fee, and then each time you rent the car it is about $3 an hour.  Completely worth it for me to go and get a large amount of groceries just once a week, instead of every few days, and also be able to pick up all of our Amazon packages (the post office for that is also in Germany).

I live only 5 minutes from the border by car, so to zip up and back and do all of my errands takes under 2 hours each week.  It is a beautiful thing.

The last time I was in the grocery store, I had a good look at the candy wall.  Haribo is a German company, and a candy we are very familiar with in the United States.  However - living here, I have never seen candy in such large proportions in a grocery store before.  Sure, in the USA, we have a candy isle, or at least PART of an isle, that is dedicated to sweets.  But here - it seems to be a staple for them.  There isn't just one candy isle - there are 4-5.  Chocolate, and Haribo - mounds of it.  And beyond the fruit and vegetable section in the store, this is where you will find most people.

As I understand it - the Germans and the Swiss are good at control when it comes to candy.  Whether this is true or not - I may never know.  What has been reported to us is that they eat a small quanity each day - a square of chocolate here, or a handful of gummies there.  But.....why?  Why is there so.much.candy.  We may never know.

I had to take this picture the one day I was shopping because I got a clear view of just one of the isles of Haribo.  There is another one - almost identical to this - in this same grocery store.  Plus 3 isles of chocolate.  It is something to see.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019