Our final stop, it was almost lunch when we finished off Marktplatz and the surrounding streets, which were mainly for shopping purposes. We were hungry and my parents wanted to eat something Asian, and we found just the right shop for it.
We have finally arrived on our last day in Switzerland. Well, half a day, as we’re catching the train to Frankfurt in the evening. As with all other train stations in Switzerland, Basel Hauptbahnhof is the main station, with a flurry of trams and buses for you to choose from to head into the city.
Basel is a city bordered by France, Germany and Switzerland.
“Where are we?”
“Because it’s a really unique city which lies on the borders of France, Switzerland and Germany. They even share a same airport located in France, aptly named the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport.”
We had three hours left when we arrived at Schaffhausen on our way back to Zurich. As I have always stated the flexibility of the Swiss Pass on numerous occasions, this was one of them. We didn’t need to buy any tickets back to Zurich, so we could explore this quaint little Swiss town at our own pace. A quick search and we knew what we have to do in this little town.
We have to climb the Munot. A circular tower that lies at the center of the town which allows you a 360-degree views of the town. It’s not a touristy town and will never be, but if you like to see what the Swiss have to offer in terms of village and small town life, this is probably it.
Cobblestones pavement, small shops selling eclectic stuffs, and the likes dot this little town.
It was also devoid of any tourists. We had the place to ourselves and also to a few locals. Most of the shops were closed since it was a weekend.
I wouldn’t recommend this place if you don’t have the time, and there are probably plenty of such towns dotted all across Switzerland. My suggestion would be that, if you have the time, and you have the Swiss Pass, just take a train heading in any direction, find a place and jump right off. Explore. That’s how you will get a feel of the place, instead of heading towards the tourist areas. You might not get much recognition out of it, I doubt anyone has ever heard of Schaffhausen and by mentioning that you’ve climbed the Munot, would give you blank stares. This is not the Eiffel Tower. But on the other hand, you get to feel the place itself, see how the locals work, what people do during their daily lives. And walk around a small town with a funny name.
St Gallen on a Sunday is basically a dead town, almost all the shops are closed. Except for the restaurants, even those they serve at a much later hour. I like this concept of a weekend, where the shops take a rest. Back here in Malaysia, there is no such day, the weekends is the time when all the shops are open for work. Certain shops will take a rest day on one of the weekdays but mostly it’s all open, 18 hours a day, all days of the week. Seldom do we see such a curious thing of having nothing open on a particular day.
We saw a procession of Volkswagen Beetles, the old type during our short stay at St Gallen. I guess that’s what the Swiss countryside is for. On a nice day like this, Sunday nonetheless, time to head to the hills!
Having traipse all over Zurich the day before, it was time to take a trip to the outskirts of Zurich. We took an hour’s train ride to find ourselves in the town of St. Gallen. Of all the places, we chose to come here because of the Stiftsbibliothek located in the Abbey of St Gallen. A UNESCO heritage.
The town itself is explorable on foot so pack your comfy shoes and prepare to walk your way around town. We were there early and since it was the weekend, nothing was open. We were the only visitors there. It is advisable to choose a day where there’s less visitors or be there pretty early because the Stiftsbibliothek is not bookable and it’s a first come first serve basis. And since it’s a really small room, they don’t allow to many visitors at the same time, nor do they allow photography.
“Why is it so famous?”
“It’s the oldest library in Switzerland and it holds at least 2,000 books and manuscripts that dates back to the early ages. Some are placed on display although we might not understand the written language.”
“There is one thing you should look out for — The Magic Square.”
Admission is CHF10 per person but it’s free with the Swiss Pass, which is why we took the trouble to visit this place.
Tip: Check out the magic square of 4×4, filled with the numbers from 1 to 16, which amount is the same when you add the numbers horizontally or vertically.
The rest of the abbey can be visited but as with old dated places, photography is not allowed. It seems that the flash from the camera could destroy the pieces in some chemical way. Or probably that’s another way of saying, “if you want to visit it, you have to come over here”.
(to be continued)
Switzerland is also well known for its beautiful lakes. And we had been taking advantage of that coupled with the Swiss Pass that allows us free access onto the boats. So we are here now in Zurich and yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re going on a trip around the lake. There are a couple of ways you could do this, either follow in our footsteps and just enjoy a roundtrip on the lake (around an hour or so), or you could drop off at any stops and make your way back via trams or foot.
Be sure to check out the timetables, as they are not available at all hours.
“Let’s queue up and make sure we get the seats at the back.”
“Those are the ones with the good views and you can avoid the water spray, if there’s any.”
We haven’t even walked halfway down the famous Bahnhofstrasse when we headed to the edge of the Limmat River. We were heading to check out the Fraumünsterkirche. Unfortunately, someone was having their wedding there and the place was closed for the day.