The fire-pit warms us on this chilly winter eve as ‘Glühwein’ (mulled wine) is sipped from souvenir mugs, and we look up to see hundreds of starry lights strung in the trees above.
Below us, the River Rhine flows, and in the dark distance, the hills of the Black Forest can be seen clearly in the day.
This is Basel Switzerland, and we are at one of their two Christmas Markets – Basler Weihnachten at Barfüsserplis in the main part of town, and this market – Basler Münster (next to the gothic church with twin cathedral towers.)
I particularly like this market, and it feels different from the mass-produced Christmas markets we have visited in many parts of Europe over the past month with noticeably repeated chain-style sellers and produce.
Why do I like this market? Because this Christmas market is compact, and it is set on a hill next to a historical church.
I also love it because nestled in one area is the children’s corner, and at the rear is a large old wooden boat, where candles can be lit outside and in one end inside the boat is the nativity scene. We shut the doors and spend a moment in here.
Firstly we remember my mother, who always made Christmas so special, but we also say a prayer of thanks to God. For without the birth of Christ, there would be no Christmas.
We head back down to the market with the carolers on the way. They are singing carols I know, so we stop to listen for a few minutes. It feels so ‘Christmassy’ here in Basel.
I purchase a mug of ‘Glühwein’ (mulled wine) from a very jolly ‘Santa Claus’ seller.
I get my Swiss Francs all mixed up, and end up giving Explorason money to buy nearly $20 AU worth of roasted chestnuts – he comes back with a handful!! We turn and the seller is gone – my fault entirely as I am the one who thought five Franc coins were two Francs each.
Here we enjoy a time listening to The Salvation Army band play brass instruments and Christmas tunes. Christmas really does fill the air, and it is great that many are celebrating Jesus’ upcoming birthday as their main theme.
Still, this is the last evening we will get to be at a European Christmas Market for 2016, and we are in the festive spirit. It really is just beautiful, and I think the winter night makes it so different from the Christmas I grew up with in Australia – hot!
We catch the tram back to the Pullman Basel Europe Hotel where we are staying.
We left our hotel late in the morning (after a hearty breakfast) to start exploring this amazing little city, and even though we could have walked into the city, we chose to hop on a nostalgic vintage-style tram.
One thing I love about Basel is the fact they haven’t ditched their older style trams and replaced them with modern ones, and this adds charm to the city. And it helps that the hotel has provided us with a free transport Mobility Ticket card for during our stay.
I can’t believe how time has flown by today!
We’ve spent the day tasting Swiss food and soaking in the Christmas feel of Basel in this historic city.
The Pullman Basel Europe Hotel has kindly provided a complimentary drink for each of us at their bar, so this was lovely to return to!
Our spacious and modern Twin Room is conveniently on the 3rd level and overlooks a courtyard garden area. With complimentary drinks in the mini bar fridge, pod coffee maker, tea making facilities and all the necessities for our stay, the Pullman Basel Europe has made us feel really welcome!
When we originally arrived, we walked here from the train station down the road, and tomorrow we head to Liechtenstein for Christmas (using our 1st class Eurail Pass) and we are so excited to have a white Christmas this year here in Europe!
So for now, it is time for bed – and a big day awaits us tomorrow. Basel is really worth a visit, and we’d definitely recommend this Accor hotel as a place to stay too.
To all of you who have been following our world journey over the past four years and 68 countries – thank you!
For those who joined us along the way, we hope you will enjoy what 2017 has in store for us.
Merry Christmas to you from Exploramum and Explorason.
Website: Hotel Pullman Basel Europe