By Cacinda Maloney
BEWARE: THIS ARTICLE IS PHOTO HEAVY as I love photographing anything Christmas!
It was my first day of arrival into Switzerland and I could not wait to get the Christmas Market tour under way. Arrival into the small city of Basel was fast and cheap on the train from Zurich. Basel is located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet and is the third largest city in Switzerland. It also has suburbs in France and in Germany. I had heard that the Basel, Switzerland Christmas Markets were ones not to miss, so I was excited to see my very first one.
I made my way to the Rhine River via Tram #5 from the main train station and got on board the Viking River Cruise Ship TOR, which would be my home for the next 8 days. Check-in was a breeze and soon enough, I unpacked all my things and got them settled into my new home away from home. That is a mega perk of cruising.
Word on the ship was that there was a great market in Basel, so I wanted to start things off right away and headed out the door to take the tram into town. Basically, I was told to get off “when you see the markets”, as Viking had a tour scheduled later in the afternoon with the tour director, but I wanted to go right away. There are two markets, only a few blocks from each other. I chose to get off the tram on the furthest one away from the ship and then walk my way back to the other one. The Christmas Markets in Basel are called Basler Weinnacht and are located at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz and are easily within walking distance.
Little did I know, as a novice in European Christmas Markets, that this would be one of the best ones I experienced and I did it with barely any direction and found my way around quite easily. What I loved about this market was that is was quiet and easy to get around and yet had all the elements of the wonderful bigger markets.
It was also less crowded than some of the larger markets I eventually saw, but I had no idea how popular these markets had become over the years and how they have literally taken on a life of their own. My recommendation is not to miss this one if you are any where near this tri-country location. It could be that since I was there on a Friday afternoon instead of the weekend it was less crowded, but even so, I loved this market and it is a great market to go to.
While there, I saw Christmas “cabins” that had candle making, glass firing, jagertee (tea), glühwein (mulled wine) and jus. chaud (hot juice in orange or pomegranate), as well as chestnuts roasting with all the smokiness that comes along with that.
I saw Christmas merry-go-rounds for the kiddos and paper star lights (one of my favorite things).
There were things that glowed, twirled, and attracted me with all their glittery lights.
They were also playing Christmas music and had trees, garland and full live manger scenes, with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus galore. I also saw snowmen, Santa Clause and evergreen sprigs stapled to the sides of wooden buildings. As well as, wreaths, red-striped North poles, reindeer and Christmas ornaments, stars, strings of lights, bows, candy canes and angels.
Plus trains, heart ornaments and stockings, not a single thing was missing.
Everything that is the Christmas spirit was here. Even the biting cold and gingerbread houses and cookies could be found here in this small market in Switzerland. If you can not get in the Christmas Spirit here, then nothing else will work other than to be stuck by the holy one himself inside the cathedral!
Disclosure: My time spent in Basel, Switzerland was courtesy of the Viking River Cruises, while I spent time on the Christmas Market tour on the Rhine Getaway.