Three days in Basel.

Hotel Münchnerhof.

The hotel is in Marc Augé’s characterisation, a ‘non-place’. I never meet another guest and the reception is forever empty; I interact only with tacky paintings on the walls – a giraffe the most verbose raconteur. I spend my yawning rituals before sleep concerned that Jack Torrance may be about to break down the door with an axe. On the Thursday night I hear disconcerting sounds from the communal bathroom. Someone appears to be constipated. I never meet this person but the introductory smell sufficed.

Wheels.

Either cycle on the road or the pavement; don’t indulge in the twin pursuit of hogging both spaces. It vexes me terribly. The nuisance didn’t reach Amsterdam levels but with the scooter element thrown into the cacophony of wheeled pastimes, my ‘vexed meter’ rose. I can understand kids hopping on scooters – it’s a childhood thing, the speedy thrill an adventure in an otherwise torporific narrative of cartoons and Coca-Cola. An adult on a scooter, though. One judges.

Stalin’s Gift?

I stumbled across this anachronistic tower/tunnel ‘thing’ 20 minutes into a morning jog. I thought I’d time-travelled back (and east) to the good ol’ days of the Soviet Union. I don’t know what it is, but it made me immediately think of simpler, more Manichaean times.

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Trams.

The trams were a godsend. Wondrous as hell (pardon the oxymoron), they traverse almost every millimetre of the city. A curious fellow was screaming on one of them and bashing a battery-operated fan against the window. I think he might have been on day-release from an institute. This aside, they were a serene experience. No one seemed to be paying to jump on the things despite the ticket machines littering the stops. I assumed they were for show so didn’t pay either.

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Tinguely Fountain.

This Jean Tinguely fountain of machine sculptures constructed in 1977 was made, I have been informed, as a tribute to the old city theatre company who performed on the very same spot – industrialised nostalgia.

With all the kinetic apparatus on display, coupled with the scooters and roller skates screeching around its perimeter, it wouldn’t have been out of place for the much-feared Wheelers from Return to Oz (1985) to join in on the action. It’s how I imagine all fountains will look in our dystopian future once Skynet take over and the oil runs out – machines miming actors.

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Wrong Turn.

Thank you, sign. This could have been a worrying narrative. Thankfully, France was avoided.

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Secret Garden.

Of all the ethereal structures suggesting another age, this was the highlight. I sat here for a good 45 minutes thumbing through Leo McKinstry’s Operation Sealion. It was my secret garden, yet only a stone’s throw from the hustle-bustle of Elisabethenstrasse.

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Wee charming enclaves, Basel has them aplenty, including this artfully placed urinal behind the Kunstmuseum.

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Ice Cube.

The only ice cubes I could locate required transportation back to the hotel in a wheelbarrow. I patiently queued for 6 minutes to reach the refrigerator by the till, but was confronted with a bag of ice the size of a behemoth coal sack. I didn’t purchase the ice.

Lidl.

I couldn’t find one.

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