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Basel - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

This is a charming city split down the middle by the beautiful Rhine River. Basel is one of the oldest cities in Switzerland, as well as one of the country’s most culturally and historically rich. It is a wonderful labyrinth of architectural allure with buildings, churches and castles dating back to the Renaissance, as well as the impressive 15th-century Old Town. Aside from its beauty, it’s an important culture and business hub. It’s home to the annual Baselworld watch and jewellery exhibition, the globally renowned Art Basel Fair and a host of pharmaceutical companies and banks. If travelling on business, be sure to extend your trip to enjoy the city’s riches. There is never a dull moment for lovers of the arts, as the small city lays claim to more than 40 museums, one of the oldest clock towers and amazing theatres. The nearly 150-year-old Basel Zoo, home to an advanced breeding program and active in worldwide conservation. It is bound to fascinate nature lovers, not only because of its grand wildlife, but also for the aquarium and the Basel Zoological Garden. For hikers, Basel is the one city where you can travel to the three country corner where France, Germany and Switzerland meet. When you find the exact location, straddle your feet and put one hand down to the ground, and you can safely say you are in all three countries at once.

When in Switzerland, fondue is an absolute must, and Basel has one of the best fondue restaurants in the land: Restaurant Elsbethenstübli. A small restaurant not far from the Fine Arts Museum, the more than 60 year-old restaurant remains family run, and the charming owners of the cosy spot have a wonderful way of making you feel right at home. While it serves some local dishes such as Wienerschnitzel, it is renowned for its secret cheese fondue recipe. Be sure to bring your appetite and eat like the Swiss: start with a salad for better digestion, drink white wine instead of water and leave a little room for dessert. We recommend the lemon sorbet topped with vodka, but most visitors are partial to the parfait made with local Basler Läckerli, a biscuit made of honey and nuts, and whipped cream.

Veal is a famous dish in Basel. If you have an affinity for the local veal cordon bleu then here it is a pub specialty so head to Gifthüttli in Old Town. It has a wood-panelled bar on the first floor and dining room upstairs, both full of decorative vases, statues and objects with old-world appeal. Even the wooden beams feature carved faces that are said to protect diners. Originally called Zum Ritter St Georg, it was built in the late 1890s by Innocenz Weiss, who famously served beer there. At the time, beer was only served at a brewery, so a local paper said that drinking beer anywhere else was like drinking poison (gift in German). The good-humoured Weiss renamed it Gifthüttli, meaning poison pub. The menu has everything from deep-fried cordon bleu (delicious) to traditional, and somewhat unusual, combinations such as calf liver and raspberry dressing.

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