The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

IF A two, or even three cen­tre hol­i­day is not enough, then how about a three na­tion af­ter­noon? It’s one of the in­trigu­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties thrown up by a short break in Basel. On a walk­ing tour of the pretty, com­pact city on our open­ing morn­ing, our guide ex­plains that Ger­many is just a cou­ple of miles away (a tram takes you there) and France is equally close. Yet Basel’s many cul­tural and culi­nary at­trac­tions — plus a sig­nif­i­cant Jewish her­itage — pro­vide the in­cen­tive to stay on Swiss ter­ri­tory.

You can fly di­rect from Lon­don, but I had taken the Eurostar to Paris, then a comfy berth on a train bound for a fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of Zurich.

For a few hours more, it’s a more civilised and less ex­pen­sive way of mak­ing the trip. You can then get to your ho­tel on one of the trams that stop out­side the cen­tral sta­tion.

Those stay­ing in Basel re­ceive a free pass (it’s the Swiss way) for the su­per ef­fi­cient trans­port sys­tem. Though the main sights and shops are within com­fort­able walk­ing dis­tance.

On foot, it is ap­par­ent that Basel loves a mu­seum — there are close to 40 of them in a city with a 200,000 pop­u­la­tion, from the se­ri­ously arty to the fun and quirky, such as a toy mu­seum hous­ing a col­lec­tion of 4,000 Teddy bears. Or the mu­seum show­cas­ing the en­dear­ingly ec­cen­tric work of the late Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely, whose me­chan­i­cal sculp­tures were made with items sal­vaged from garbage. If you don’t have time to do the mu­seum, you can en­joy the foun­tain in his name with some typ­i­cally wacky pieces, which looks mag­i­cal in win­ter with a frost­ing of ice.

The Jewish mu­seum was closed on the days of our visit but such is the Jewish history of the area that there is a spe­cial­ist tour (280 CHF, around £200, for a group of up to 20). Jewish traders came to Basel in the e a r l y Mi d - dle Ages and the first Jewish com­mu­nity dates back to the early 13th cen­tury. It is also linked in­deli­bly to the founder of po­lit­i­cal Zion­ism,Theodor Herzl, who held the first Zion­ist Congress at the Stadt-Casino in Au­gust 1897. “In Basel

Quirky foun­tain TRAIN: fares from Lon­don to Basel start from £116 (stan­dard class re­turn) You can also book a re­turn train jour­ney from Basel to Zurich for £46. www.voy­ STAY: Novo­tel Basel City, room rates from 160 CHF - www.novo­ More Info:

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