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By Daniel Saraga/LargeNetwork for WRS, Photos by Roman Weyeneth
Hordes of visitors descend on Basel twice a year: in June for Art Basel, the largest contemporary art fair in Europe, and in January to attend Baselworld, the giant watch and jewelry fair. The rest of the time, the tourists as well as the Swiss tend to forget about Basel, despite its status as Switzerland’s third largest city. But if you haven’t thought of going to Basel lately—or ever—think again: With its human scale, international mix of residents, spectacular museums and lively social scene, it has plenty to offer. We ask three plugged-in locals to share with us their favorite haunts and hangouts:
Raphaël Rossel describes himself as a workaholic who spends all his money on going out. A creative type with a strong business sense, he wisely chose a career combining art with management. “I’m terrible at design, but I know how to sell it!” says Rossel, 33, who has worked for the trendy designer Tarzan and for Tally Weijl, among others. In 2008 he created De-Lay, a design management and marketing agency.
“I love places that respect the history of the location, like Eo Ipso (Dornacherstrasse 192, T 061 331 1490, www.eoipso.ch), a bar and restaurant in a
huge industrial hall—it’s got a great open ambiance. I always go there around 11 pm.
My other favorite place is the Cargo Bar (St. Johanns-Rheinweg 46, T 061 321 0072, www.cargobar.ch) on the Rhine, which has a very raw charm. The crowd is pretty alternative, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can cross paths just as easily with architects from Herzog and De Meuron (whose office is next door) as with struggling musicians.
The spot for breakfast is Del Mundo (Güterstasse 158, T 061 361 1691, www.delmundo.ch), behind the station. It’s a family place run by two very nice girls, where time seems to have stood still.
In summer, an absolute must is the restaurant at the Breite baths, MS Veronica (St. Alban-Rheinweg 195, T 061 311 2575, www.msveronica.ch). It’s right on the Rhine and not that well-known yet.”
The baroque violinist Leila Schayegh, 34, spends her professional life traveling around Europe on trains and planes, but she makes her home in Basel, one of the world’s most important centers of early music. She recently founded an ensemble, Centifolia, and has also just released her first solo recording.
“The path along the Rhine between the bridge and the Tinguely Museum is superb—that’s where I go jogging. It runs through parks, past museums and old houses, along-side pharmaceutical plants—in short, everything that defines Basel!
Cross the river to the Grossbasel side and you arrive in St Alban, a beautiful old neighborhood where the rich Baselers live. I love the Papiermühle (St Alban-Tal 37, T 061 225 9090, www.papiermuseum.ch ), the paper mill museum, which sells homemade paper with modern designs.
I also recommend [plug.in] (St Alban-Rheinweg 64, T 061 283 6050, www.iplugin.org ), a gallery dedicated to electronic arts.
One of my favorite restaurants is Zum Isaak (Münsterplatz 16, T 061 261 4712, www.zum-isaak.ch), across from the cathedral. Its little garden nestled between the old buildings is beautiful, and the food is original and carefully prepared.
For coffee, the best café is the Elisabethen (Elisabethenstrasse 14, T 061 271 1225, www.offenekirche.ch), a haven of peace in the middle of the city. Where else can you enjoy a drink inside a church?”
Goodbye vials and test tubes! At 59, the English biochemist Christopher Morrison has decided to focus on helping others. He now spends his free time volunteering for the blind, accompanying patients to the Cantonal Hospital and organizing cycling trips. “In Basel you always feel that the place is made for its inhabitants,” says Morrison, who’s lived there for 10 years. “It’s an amazing city for biking.”
“I love Kannenfeldpark (Burgfelderstrasse 70), built on an old cemetery. I like that a graveyard is not forever but rather becomes something for the living.
A great place for lunchtime is So’up (Fischmarkt 10, T 061 261 4620, www.so-up.ch), near Marktplatz. You can get original dishes from everywhere in the world, like a Jamaican pumpkin soup or a Thai beetroot soup.
Lily’s (Rebgasse 1, T 061 683 1111, www.lilys.ch) offers a very interesting mix of different Asian dishes, and with the long, communal table you always end up talking with your neighbors.
The most amazing bar must be Bürgin’s Schluggstube (Im Schmiedenhof 10). It looks like a junk shop but the atmosphere is very cozy and the crowd quite eclectic. The music from the ’60s and ’70s must be among the best I have ever heard.”