Fun with Mikey!!

Since Michael (Mikey) had finished with his teaching stint, it was time for me to show him a bit of the city and he was more than happy to comply!!

Our first stop was to climb the tower of the Basil Minster.  If you remember, they would not let me go up by myself earlier in the week but now I had my climbing partner so up we went.  And I do mean up!!!   The first stairs were easy but then they got REALLY steep and REALLY curvy and REALLY narrow!!! 

There was a rope hanging on the right pillar of the staircase and we both used it to help us, but both came out with skinned knuckles!!

We stopped at the landing, standing next to this huge bell. 

We laughed about the fact that we were glad that it hadn’t rung while we were standing there, but about 5 minutes later (when we were outside on the ledge), it did ring and scared us to death.   We both said a few choice words!!!

After a few photos from the very narrow ledge…

Michael happened upon a door at the end of the passageway and was SUPER happy to see that it opened, revealing another set of stairs……

….so up we went. A few photos at the next level….

….and….oh look….ANOTHER door!!!!   Up again……

….and you guessed it….. yet ANOTHER door!!!

When we finally got to the top, we were level with the gargoyles clinging to the eaves of the tower……

After viewing the city from all angles, we started the intrepid task of going down the stairs….

The only thing that helped was that the stairwell was super narrow and I was able to hold to the center pole with one hand and keep the other hand firmly against the other wall.    It reminded me of how my Mother looked when she was teaching me how to drive…grabbing hold of every surface available!!!

After we thankfully reached level ground, we were off to the Tinguely Museum to view his mechanical sculptures.   If you remember the fountain that I posted about earlier in the week  ……

It was built by Jean Tinguely and we were super excited to see that he had an entire museum of works only 1.4 miles from our flat!!

As we walked, we were amused by the gas (petrol) station. As opposed to our 12 lane, 48 car edifices, this one was 2 pumps just slightly off of the street…..

It was also fun to see a “Give and Take” library on one corner…..

Michael kept insisting that he take lots of photos of me since I am not normally a part of the photos. But, after the 6th or 7th photo overlooking the river, I said enough……

As we approached the museum, we were impressed with the beauty of the setting…..

….and then with the first work of art….a fountain of course…..

We purchased our tickets and were given the requisite sticker to put on our clothing. It was nice to have TWO stickers in hand as it meant that I had my favorite museum partner with me!!!

Being good Americans, we started at the END of the exhibit rather than at the beginning, but that meant that we saw two of his largest creations first. We approached the first one, and stood looking at it, along with a number of other visitors…..

Then I spied the button on the floor and as soon as I put my foot on it…..

It was magical to stand and listen to the cacophony of sounds and watch the gears as they worked with the levers!!

The next work was even larger but had lots of interesting parts to see. This view is actually from one end of the work……

We were amazed to see that you were allowed (and encouraged) to climb on this work even while it was in motion…

In the US, this would be a lawsuit waiting to happen!!!

We moved on thru the museum, learning more about Jean Tinguely as we went. He was an anarchist and communist and we shared nothing in common with his outlook on life, but yet we loved his art style. His pieces were designed to move in some form or fashion and they captivated us!!!

Some even produced art themselves…..

I read some about this piece and it said that he was trying to ask the question about who the artist was…..the person who built the machine, the person who ran the machine or the machine itself!!!

Although he had some large pieces, we also appreciated the smaller ones that moved quietly and simply……

These were some of my favorites…..

Although I couldn’t see them in motion, I appreciated the intermixing of bare wire cogs with colored shapes.

There was one room that had a long line of sculptures and I giggled at the equally long line of buttons to be stepped on…..

The only difficult part about the museum was that all of the art works had a timer so that they wouldn’t run all of the time. There had to be a rest period between activity. We acted like a couple of kids as we tried to place ourselves the correct distance behind the previous oglers but well before the next group so that we could be the ones to ignite the machines!!

Several of the machines were destructive, such as this one where a chain was thrown against the wood stand. I wonder how often the wood has to be replaced…..

This was a museum that was interactive and super fun!!!

I found a couple of quotes by Jean Tinguely that I loved, but this was my favorite……

“Dreams are everything — technique can be learned.”

I will leave you with one last video from an entire ROOM of farm tools…..

We ended our last day in Basel in the proper way…..a pasta dinner in our flat…..

Tomorrow we head to Naples!!!

The Great Museum Fail….

We all knew that it was coming, and Thursday was my museum fail, but that is at the end of the day…..

As I started out this morning, Google maps took me thru Petersplatz which is the plaza located next to Michael’s office. I had walked thru here many times, but had never stopped at the church that anchors the plaza, so today was the day!!!

Many of the churches that I have visited here have not been functioning churches. They have been reworked to provide other needed services. It was refreshing to enter one that was prepared and ready for worship….

The churches here have ornate spires and outside decorations, but, unlike the churches in Rome, the insides are stone and greatly un-adorned……

There were numerous places where frescoes had been uncovered, and from the documentation that I saw, these were from the 1400’s…..

This simple flower arrangement was delightful…..

….and I delighted in the head sculptures between these seats…..

I loved the chandeliers….

And, this rug caught my eye as well……

The next stop was City Hall….yes you heard me right!!!! Like many people, this was my initial feeling about visiting a governmental office…..

I couldn’t get a good picture of the building so pulled one off of the internet…..

The building is an amazing demonstration of the art of Trompe-l’œil. Look at the faux terrace along the front of the building…..

The inside courtyard continues with the decorations….this photo again from the internet…..

Photos from inside the edifice continued to show the attention to detail in all of the decorations…..

I particularly like these painted details……

The statue was under repair and it was interesting to watch the painter carefully mixing the paints to match the existing surface……

It was now lunch time and I decided to visit a small truck located in the Vegetable Market…..

….were I was excited to find a Vegetable Wrap with Hummus…….

It was SO yummy!!!!

There were workmen at one end of the Plaza putting in a new brick design. It was interesting to watch them at work…..

Now I was ready to hit the Mechanical Music Instrument museum again so walked across the bridge and to the same closed door!!! This time I decided to be pro-active and pushed the buzzer for the museum….

…. but nothing happened. Since it was during the lunch hour I decided to sit across the street and wait for a bit and even tried calling the number listed in the guide. But NO, I was obviously NOT supposed to see this museum!!!

Heading back across the river, I hit one more church….. St. Elisabeth’s. Once again this huge edifice has nothing to do with religion, but is used as a city building….

The last place that I wanted to visit was the Antiquities Museum. After finally finding it, I paid $23 to enter a very small museum that contained artifacts from Vesuvius and Pompeii….which we will be visiting next week!!! The audio guide didn’t give information about the exhibits but, instead, was a story teller very animatedly telling a tale about what might have happened!! And the final kicker is that you weren’t allowed to take photos. Needless to say, I ran thru the exhibit pretty quickly and had finished the tour in less than 15 minutes!! Oh well… bad museum is still okay!!!

As Michael’s course was finished at 5:00, I walked to the University to meet his students and share some wine and snacks. It was great to meet these young people and to hear all of their stories. We then went out for one last typical Swiss meal that started with this beef and mushroom appetizer…..

My main course was Port Cordon Bleu and was magnificent, but very heavy…..

Okay….not my best day out, but still fun to be in a different part of the world!!!!!

Another day….another museum

While poor Michael works each day, I have been very fortunate to be able to visit the sights around Basel. On Thursday I had planned to visit the Mechanical Musical Instrument museum….a mere 1.3 miles away. I enjoyed my walk over the Rhine River which separates the city into two distinct sides…..Swiss on one side and French on the other!! The views of the Swiss side were very sweet…..

… were these locks firmly and permanently attached to a gate in the middle of the bridge…..

I was in need of an ATM before I arrived at the museum but was certain, since this is the banking capital of the world, that I wouldn’t have any trouble finding one. Sure enough there is one on about every other block!!!

I confidently arrived at the museum to find this…..

…. a locked door with no sign telling hours!!! Oh well, on to Plan B…..visiting the Contemporary Art museum. So, back across the river, stopping for more photos…..

….and down to the art gallery….but that didn’t work out either, so I went for a walk to enjoy the architecture of the area……

I especially liked this house at the end of a short lane…..

….and the quilting design in these wrought iron gates…..

I also passed the Kunst Minster cathedral again. I had not been particularly impressed with this structure previously, but I entered via a side door this time and found myself in an interesting courtyard that contained different views of the church……

……interesting metal sculptures including this table filled with edibles…..

……and views across the river from a small greenspace behind the building…..

This boat is actually a ferry that will take you across the river. It appears to be a motor-less raft that is propelled by electricity from the wire crossing the river.

I continued a bit further down the street and came to the “Museum Der Kulturen” (Culture Museum), whose motto is to “see the world thru other eyes”. I had no idea what to expect in this museum but it proved to be another delightful experience.

The first gallery was a special exhibit called “Lift Off”. It was housed in a large airy room with lots of spot lights that provided wonderful shadows. This was a gallery of mechanical art and everything was interactive. You turned the crank to make the feathers fly…..

Or stepped on a button to make the hand make a most annoying noise, reminiscent of the woman who sat beside us on the train!!!…..

This video shows three of her creations in action……

It was a whimsical and fascinating assortment!!!

The second gallery was about collections of objects, mostly from the Pacific Islands. The first exhibit that I saw was a hanging of hunting arrows much like the ones that Michael was gifted by his guide in Papua New Guinea. The REALLY cool thing about this collection is that there were mirrored tiles on the floor beneath the hanging so the illusion was amazing……

In this gallery, I found my first quilt related item…..this drum is decorated with ribbons…..

….AND an exquisite hand appliqued attachment…..

This mask had some tiny bead work that made it look like sewing thread….

This fish is actually quite large and is big enough for a person to step under it and wear it like a mask. There is a lever that allows the bottom jaw to move…..

My final find in this gallery was this shield. I loved the designs…..

The next gallery was called “SPACE” although what it really referred to was size….exactly how BIG things could be. I enjoyed the many totems and especially these three masks…..

….but most of my attention was taken up with this papyrus rug…..

I spent quite some time looking at the various patterns that were contained in it and even found some Pinwheel blocks…..

SUCH gorgeous designs!!!

I also loved a large wooden carving of a nun and was especially interested in the fact that I immediately knew what it was by the expression on the face…..

The next floor was called “GOLD” and contained a large mixture of items, mostly focusing on the using of things that you already had….ie recycling. The most interesting thing to me was that these displays…..

….were made from recycled bottles…..

There was a section devoted to fabrics and this Tartan inspired me to think about the making of a Modern quilt using this simplified design…….

The final area of this floor was about Community and Creativity and had examples of classes that were taught at the museum. Of course my eye was drawn to…..

SHIBORI!!! I asked, hopefully, if classes were in session but was told that they were only during the winter months and hadn’t started yet. Drat!!!

The final floor was called “Performance” and the exhibit was made up of various puppets. Although they were interesting, many were just weird…..

… although I did like the design of this tree top…..

There were several places in the museum where you could get nice photos of the surrounding courtyard …..

I must admit that I am confused by the large tan wall when everything thing else is such a crisp white and brown!!!

As I walked back to the Flat, the streets were fairly empty, making it easier to photograph this typical Basel scene…..

As I neared home, I passed this little bit of fabric that had been used to decorate a lonely fence….

….and I stopped and photographed this door inset that would be a fun piecing pattern…..

Speaking of fabric, I realized that there is a fabric shop just doors down from the Coop market so I had to make a quick visit. There was a wonderful wall of cotton fabrics….mostly Makower UK and many from our big US companies…..

….but I was dismayed to learn that the price was 26 Francs per meter. That is a bit over $US 26!!! Too rich for my blood…..

Michael arrived at the Flat shortly after I arrived and I was set the task of cooking dinner. When we were at the shop on the first night, I had bought a packet of Rosti…

It LOOKED like hash browns and I was hopeful that was correct. I spent some time with Google Translate and learned how to cook them and was pleasantly surprised with how good they were and how nice of a meal it made…..

And yes….it was Hash Browns!!!

It’s Wednesday so let’s hit a museum or two!!

I had decided that Wednesday would be a museum day with plans to hit a few before the day was over. Basel supposedly has over 37 museums, but I have to say that they play pretty fast and loose with the term Museum. One is apparently considered the smallest museum in the city and is simply a window that you look into!! But my choices for today were great museums.

The walk was made enjoyable by checking out these few signs…..

And there is no question what resides behind these doors…..

Speaking of toilets, I passed a small street festival that had a toilet block that was hooked into the sewer system in an interesting way…..

I sure hope that no one accidentally bumps into it!!!

This “window” was painted onto the house wall to look just like one of the other windows….

And this little lady waiting for the tram caught my eye…..

The first museum stop was the Spielzeug Welten Museum, better known as the Toy Museum. It is comprised of four floors and you started at the top and worked your way to the bottom. The top floor was TEDDY BEARS……

…..thousands of Teddy Bears!!! My daughter, Jenny, would have loved this floor!! They were set in cute arrangements, including tea time, bedtime, a Teddy Bear Hospital, Teddy Bear Picnic and more….

I read later that there were 2,500 teddy bears and another 4,000 toys and dolls!!! There was an interactive screen where you could enter the bear’s number and find out it’s history…..

After fully exploring the bear floor, I moseyed down to the third floor where the corsets were displayed…..that’s right….corsets!!! Apparently it is a special exhibition but seemed a bit out of character!! The corsets were beautiful and ranged from modern…..

… historical…..

…and even some that were for “art” purposes rather than wearing…..

The other floors were filled with dolls in various vignettes and honestly, I grew tired of them fairly quickly. I could only think that my Mom would have spent DAYS and DAYS in here looking at each scene and cooing over how wonderful it was, while my Dad and I begged her to leave!!!

I will say that the detail in some of these is AMAZING!!!!

This one seemed a bit bizarre to me as the carnival ride looked quite evil…..

I did find one scene with a fabric store……

….but, alas, not a quilt in sight!!! When I hit the rows and rows of doll houses…..

… was time for me to leave!!!

The next stop was Basler Papiermühle, better known as the Basel Paper Mill. The really cool thing about this museum is that it was fully interactive. In each of the areas…. paper making, printing and binding….. there were artisans actually working at the craft, producing fine, hand crafted products.

The first stage was paper making. I first watched the professionals at work….

….and then got to learn about the process myself!!! They currently use two different methods of preparing the fibers for making the paper. The oldest method uses large hammers to beat the fabrics into pulp…..


Unfortunately, there is a cog currently broken so this particular machine was not in operation. The newer machine uses large shredders to masticate the materials into a pulp…..

As you can see, paper making is quite a messy business….

It was explained that the nicer paper is made from actual fabric but the everyday paper is made from wood pulp.

Then it was my turn to make a piece of paper, complete with watermark!! The vat was filled with water and a mixture of wood pulp (Pine and Eucalyptus)…..

Th mold on the right is made up of two copper screens with the finer one on top. The watermark design is made from copper wire. The steps are as follows……

After a few minutes the paper could be released from the absorbent fabric (It was amazingly strong)…..

It would normally hang for 48 hours to dry, but they used a heated press to dry the paper quickly so that we could take it with us. Here is my first ever paper…..

In the next room they talked about the process of turning fabric into pulp for the paper. In the early days the fabrics were put into a well that was partially filled with water. After several days, mold begins to grow on the fabric, but it is still tightly woven and cannot be torn easily. By the 8th day, there are actual mushrooms growing on it but the fibers have broken down so that they can be easily mulched. Apparently this process is a VERY stinky one and the “rotting cellar” was placed a fair distance from the rest of the work.

The next floor up had information about the history of writing and they had a station where you could try different inks, and using different types of pens….quills and bamboo tubes, etc. Once the note was written, you could pick a marbled paper “envelope” to wrap it in and then pick a press for your seal…..

On the third floor of the museum, I learned about the printing process, including this old typesetting machine…..

This press was ready to print 16 pages from a book in a single pass…..

And this cabinet contained the typeset pages for one book……

In today’s world of instant printing, it is astounding to think how much effort went into the printing of a single book!!!

The workshop was filled with typesetting supplies…..

And they were actually manually printing some items. Check out the video here…..

Next, I was able to print a page with the museum logo on it. I used this simple printing machine…..

When it was my turn to print my name, I first had to select the letters and add it to my print tray…..

It was then placed onto a large printing plate. Strong magnets hold the pieces in place……

The print dyes are inked with a brayer…..

The paper is place on top and a large roller is passed over the paper, producing a perfect printing…..

The sunshine embossing finished out the page.

The final stage in the museum was making marbled paper, something that I have done before, but was SO much fun anyway…..

This was one of my favorite museums….ever!!! It had tons of information (even in English), and provided a great atmosphere. There was even a homage to toilet paper…..

…including information that may be considered as TMI!!!

Finally, I turned toward home, passing one fun photo opportunity….

At the local Coop store, I picked up a few items but the checkout lines were super long so I decided that I would use the Express (Self check out) line. I was feeling smug as I scanned the items and put them into my bag and then I hit the bread……

I had NO idea what it was called or how to scan it so I quietly took everything out of my shopping bag, put it back into my basket and slinked my way back to the Check-out counters!! I have learned my lesson!!!!

There was a LOT of walking and a LOT of time on my feet, so it was good to be home again!!!

Lots of art in Basel

On Tuesday morning, the plan was to have an “art” day, visiting the large Art Museum called the Kunst Museum. But, since I was in “art” mode when I left the flat, I became very aware of the art around me, such as this mural just down the street…..

….or this electrical box……

When I saw this sign……

…..I immediately wondered if it was a child care facility. My hunch was confirmed when I saw this pram and stroller “Parking garage”……

On the way to the museum, I came across the “Carnival Fountain” by Jean Tinguely….

Here is a video of each of the pieces of the fountain……

The museum itself is huge and is comprised of several buildings with a tunnel leading under the street to connect them. Fortunately, I had purchased the audio guide or I would never have known that there was another building. The signs were less than helpful…..

….but the docent’s were!!! I kept looking for the tunnel, and finally realized that I had walked thru it but it was really just another art gallery.

Two of the special exhibits were closed, which was a shame, but there was still plenty to see. It was a good mixture of art pieces, including Renaissance, Impressionistic and Modern. One of my favorite pieces was this Van Gogh self portrait…..

I appreciate that he used non-traditional colors for his face and hair, and also the “pieced” background. I enjoyed an up close view of the brush work on this portrait, also by Van Gogh……

The colors in this piece by Johannes Moreelse were mesmerizing ….

….as was the extreme detail in this still life by Willen Heda. The most amazing thing is the glass champagne flute that seemingly disappears into the background.

At this point, I had a good laugh at the commentary playing in my ears as they expostulated a complex meaning into every aspect of the piece.

Moving to the more modern art, I liked this piece by Frank Stella, although unfortunately, the photo is blurry…..

His comment about this piece was “what you see is what you see”, and the longer that I looked at it, the more different things that I could see!!

This was an interesting wood sculpture by Ernst Kirchner entitled “The Friends”…..

I appreciated the use of color and light in this piece by Luigi Russolo….

….and was a bit taken aback by this “falling man” located over the staircase!!

There was a fun (and well behaved) group of students in the museum with me and I enjoyed watching them toil over their studies…..

My quilt idea for the day came from this painting…..

It would be really fun to do something with free form letters!!!

I left the museum and realized that I was in need of food so I found a walk-up sandwich shop and deftly pointed to a tomato and mozzarella baguette….or so I thought!! It was actually a ham and tomato but it was MARVELOUS!!! As I sat on a bench and ate it, I looked into the window of a clothing shop and naturally had to check it out!! I walked out with another bag to carry for the day!!!

I wasn’t wanting to be outside too much longer, so decided to check out one more attraction for the day….. the Basel Minster…..

It was originally a Roman Catholic church, then a Reformed Protestant church and now appears to be used for musical performances. The only signs of a current religious use was a small hallway that contained a prayer altar….

…..and this statue tucked away in a corner….

I walked into the crypt and was underwhelmed with it, but then looked up and found some wonderful paintings on the ceiling…..

The nice thing about it not being a functioning church is that you could walk into places that would otherwise be forbidden. It was a treat to be able to get this close to the stained glass windows…..

….and to see the church from the front to the back…..

You can apparently climb the towers to see a birds-eye view of the city, but could only go up in groups of two or more so I will have to come back when Michael can join me!!!

Finally, as I end my day of “ART”, here are a few pieces that I propose…..

“Triangles ala brick” (ie…fun quilt border design)…..

“Art Infinity”…..

“Man In White Cap”…..

“Bathroom in Sea Foam”…..

And, last but not least…..”School’s out”…..

Our day ended with dinner with Walter, at a restaurant very close to the university campus. It was a fun place, reminiscent of a British Pub where the proprietor knew everyone who came in and made it his job to meet those who he didn’t know!!!

Art day is over…….