This Trivago Travel Tuesday finds The Savvy Stews in Basel, Switzerland.
Sharing borders with France and Germany, Basel is spread along a bend in the Rhine river making it the closest Switzerland comes to having a seaport. Historically the river, navigable for ships all the way to the North Sea in the Netherlands, provided an important trading route. Today it serves as the center of activities for residents and tourists alike. In warm weather the river is popular with sunbathers, picnickers, swimmers and families out for a stroll.
Basel is a cultural mecca, a city with rich character and an abundance of art, history and architecture. Thanks to its manageable size Basel is easy to explore by foot. Visitors will find it convenient to navigate the city is by making use of the blue destination boards found at all the most important locations in the city center. It is one of the few cities where you can easily have breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different countries. Actually, if you were determined, you could have appetizer in Germany, main course in France, and enjoy dessert in Switzerland.
We stayed at The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (three kings) which has a long history and a guest book that reads like a “Who’s Who” of world history. Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth II, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Mann and many other leading figures have enjoyed the hotel’s legendary hospitality — as we did, and you can, too, by booking through Trivago.
The first documented mention of the Hotel les Trois Rois was in 1681, and in 1754 innkeeper Johann Christoph Im Hof mounted the three figures representing the three kings on the front of the hotel. As you can see in modern photographs, the figures are as familiar to passersby today as they were in 1754.
Over the centuries it has evolved into the elegant hotel it is today. The hotel boasts 101 comfortably appointed rooms and suites. Each room and suite is individual, furnished with flair and with its own captivating color scheme. What other Grand Hotel makes you instantly feel so special?
The hotel features several restaurants to meet your every culinary wish.
Basel: A Cultural Mecca
Basel has the highest concentration of museums of any city in Switzerland. Bobby and Gailen were delighted to find the HoosesaggMuseum, the smallest museum in Basel, housed in a beautiful window in old town at Imbergässlein 31.
This tiny museum is so small it doesn’t even have a door. You don’t enter this museum, you look at it through the display window. The name translates to “trouser pocket” and that is what the exhibits reflect — all sorts of small items from combs, small rocks, nutcrackers and even chess pieces from around the world. When advising would-be exhibitors the curator Dagmar Vergeat suggests collections should consist of about 30 items, none of which should be larger than a soup plate.
We also visited The Fondation Beyeler, the most visited art museum in Switzerland — open 365 days a year. It has won international renown with its exhibitions of celebrated artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st century. As Gailen and Bobby learned, its primary aim is to facilitate a personal, immediate, sensory experience of art for visitors. Engaging young people in art was the goal of the museum’s founders, Basel art collectors Ernst and Hildy Beyeler. The couple wanted to make their world-famous collection accessible to everyone and to share their passion for art and nature with others.
The museum lies within a park full of trees and lily ponds,looking out over fields of corn, grazing cows and sheep with vineyards rising on the foothills of the distant Black Forest. The museum building blends elegantly into the landscape and achieves an effective fusion of nature, art and architecture. Inside the galleries natural and artificial lighting combine to showcase the works of art to their fullest advantage.
We were given a tour by Ulf Küster, Curator at the Fondation Beyeler. He explained that the Beyeler Collection comprises some 200 works of Post-Impressionism, Classical Modernism and contemporary art, together with 20 objects of ethnographic art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska. In addition the museum regularly features exhibitions devoted to the great masters of modern art as well as to the leading artists of today. Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevich, Constantin Brancusi, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Richard Serra, Jenny Holzer and Félix González-Torres are just some of the artists whose works have been seen to date. Periodically, too, the museum presents thematic exhibitions on cities and art movements that played a key role in the development of modernism.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Christine Waelti of Basel.Com over dinner at the Volkshaus (“peoples house”) who shared with us interesting facts and stories of Basel. The Volkshaus was reopened in March 2012 following an extensive makeover. Redesigned by Herzog & de Meuron, this French brasserie and classic bar, with courtyard beer garden with scattered trees, pavement café and banquet rooms, is a new culinary and cultural meeting point in the heart of Kleinbasel.