Basel Carnival Fun
Bern, Capital of Switzerland
We decided to stop in Bern for a little wonder around. Given that Greg and I are highly regarded geography experts, it was with surprise that we discovered that Bern is the capital of Switzerland. Who knew? Probably the entire population of Switzerland, but who else? Well probably quite a lot of other people, but we didn’t!
Bern is a quaint little capital city. Christina (Antarctica) tells us that you can float along the river for 40 kilometres and many of the locals do (in the summer we presume!).
As timing would have it, we are in Switzerland at the same time as carnival season. Bern carnival happened to be on today. Greg and I haven’t been to a carnival before. The Brits aren’t well renowned for it, with Notting Hill being the exception. We were a little surprised at the efforts people had gone to dressing up. I got “silly stringed” due to not wearing a badge showing my allegiance to Bern carnival – ha! We hung around for lunch then set back off on the road.
Waiting for Basel Carnival
It turns out that Saturday mid-afternoon traffic is the Swiss rush hour. Traffic was terrible. Our journey ended up taking us 3 times longer than expected. We arrived in Basel late afternoon and we all shattered.
Our Antarctica friends have certainly looked after us, with Christina (and Cédric) being our personal tour guide and Paul our apartment host. Cédric popped off for an afternoon snooze, whilst Christina showed us into Paul’s (Antarctica) apartment.
Pure luxury! I think Paul’s bathroom is bigger than Knigel! I must say, I think Paul has the best bachelor pad out there. Nice taste matey! Off we went to the supermarket for supplies and discussed getting an early night. A little while later and we were into wine bottle number two, roaring with laughter.
It’s been such a special part of our trip meeting such great people. Friends for life have been made during our tour.
The next morning we set off to go to Mulhouse carnival. I have been taught to say Mulhouse correctly by Cédric. So, for all those Brits, it is not pronounced Mul-house, it is pronounced Moo-loose. So now you know! Cédric was very impressed with my fluent French though. Voulez-vous un place pour la camping car c’est soir. Who said languages are difficult?
Whilst waiting for Basel Carnival to start, we thought that we would try out a carnival on the other side of the border. Basel train station is quite interesting as part of it is in France. We moved from the sleek and efficient Swiss side…………into 1960s France! This area really hasn’t been updated for a few years.
The train fare was very cheap, the train clean and on time. We had an Anglo / French / Swiss discussion on who is the best. Us Anglos were sticking up for the French more than the French!
Mulhouse is a sweet little town that has frequently changed its nationality between France and Germany. It feels very Alsatian. Unfortunately for us carnival meant that nearly everywhere was closed, but we did find a good Asian restaurant for lunch. The rain then kicked in and we hurried back to the train station.
Liestal Fire Festival
The second event on our tour guide’s itinerary was the Liestal fire festival. This sounded like a crazy event. It was. The concept is that all the crazy people in the town put things on their head and set them alight. I am not joking. The streets were absolutely heaving with embers covering the sky. When we managed to get near to the front the heat was unbelievable.
We enjoyed some beer and wine, chatted to random people and found a penguin. All in all, a great evening!
Dinner came courtesy of Christina’s local kebab shop and we grabbed a couple hours sleep before the start of Basel Carnival with the lantern parade.
The Start of Basel Carnival – Lanterns Everywhere
Cédric woke us all up at 3am. It was a struggle getting up but the start of Basel Carnival is 4am and we don’t want to miss it. Luckily, Christina and Cédric’s place is close to the start so we didn’t have to walk far. All the street lights went off and you could just hear piccolos playing whilst lanterns were the only lights to be seen. It really was an extraordinary sight. Basel Carnival tends to be quite political so it was of no surprise to see lanterns about Trump and Brexit, amongst more local ones.
The four of us walked through the parade and the town to get back to Paul’s apartment. Greg and I then got a well-deserved 4 hours sleep before heading back out for the daytime event.
Basel Carnival, I said, Carnival
Basel Carnival Procession
The main Basel carnival event starts at 2pm. We toddled off to meet Christina and Cédric, took our place by the side of the street and waiting. It was brilliant. I enjoyed it so much. Different themed floats came along, mainly political ones. They mainly have drummers as well as piccoloists (is that a word??). The costumes are amazing, so much attention to detail.
The float members then throw things out to the crowd. Cédric must have looked like Paddington Bear as he got enough oranges to make 18 vats of marmalade. Christina and I were upstaged by cute children around us. Note to self: either bring a child or stand where there aren’t any. We couldn’t believe that they just got all of the sweeties – haha. Sadly, the heavens opened again so we uprooted to Christina’s. Jeans in her tumble dryer whilst we scoffed cheese and drank some lovely bubbles.
An Messy Evening
An hour or so later we headed back through the carnival to Mr Pickwick’s Pub where I was given a thimble of wine. Honestly, don’t model yourselves on a British pub and give measly amounts of alcohol. On the way to the Pub we had more random things thrown at us with Cédric getting an umbrella full of sweets – nice work. I broke a nail on a bottle of water thrown at me, so not so lucky!
Paul arrived back from Colorado at 6pm and met us in the Pub about 7pm. It was also great to see him. Off the 5 of us went for pizza. By things time I’m sure Christina and Cédric had had enough of us (we are very irritating) so they headed home. Greg, Paul and I then decided that an Irish pub crawl was in order. We obviously missed Luke and Maeve-Ann (Antarctica).
We met up with a lovely Irish fella (funny that in an Irish pub), who kept buying us drinks and telling us how much he liked English people. Clearly, we were happy as the drinks kept coming. Paul didn’t announce his American-ness and kept taking the free beer!
The next morning, we bid a very sad farewell to our Antarctica friends and Basel. It’s been a brilliant catch up and I hope to make the Basel Carnival again.