Faces of Fasnacht

This week Basel celebrates Fasnacht, known elsewhere in the world as Carnival and in Basel as “the three most beautiful days of the year”. The cortege Monday afternoon is a somewhat organized parade of floats, bands playing guggenmusik, and cliques playing drums and piccolos. Every year each clique selects a “sujet”; their costumes, lantern and the ironic verses they write all reflect that theme. The sujets generally comment on a social or political issue. Some of them are readily apparent (Korean missles, anyone?) while others are a bit more obscure unless you live in Basel and, more importantly, follow local news.

Here are just a few of the many photos I took, which in turn are just a few of the great many masks that clique members spent months making in preparation for their three most beautiful days.



Here Comes Peter Cottontail…

hopping down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity, Easter’s on its way!

Nothing says spring like festively decorated shop windows, like this one at Läderach in Basel’s Marktplatz.



Needless to say, Switzerland is a fabulous place for a chocoholic to be at this time of year!

Special Delivery

Oh, you shouldn’t have….


Have I mentioned how much I love Schoggiweggli? I guess it’s a sign when my phone autocompletes the word….


Busy Town Basel

When I started this post, I don’t know for sure, but I had every reason to suspect that Richard Scarry got his inspiration for Busy Town from a Swiss city like Basel.

I loved Richard Scarry’s books—as a child, teen and parent. Remember Lowly Worm, with his little hat that, now that I think about is, definitely has a Germanic air to it, appearing on each page? In Busy Town, everyone is busy. And in Basel, people are busy in the same way.

Men at Work

Men at Work

On any given day you’ll come across mail carriers, bus drivers, painters, masons, plasterers, police officers, tram drivers, road workers, etc. etc., all working to keep the city running smoothly.

There are even work crews that clean the the bulbs in the street lights!

Another parallel to to Scarry’s characters is that all, Scarry’s pigs, cats and foxes and Basel’s people alike, wear uniforms appropriate to their task and occupation. The painters, gardeners, construction workers and sanitation crews have specific uniforms with special pockets and reflective tape. They also sport whatever protective gear is needed for the job at hand.

Swiss cities have special vehicles and machines for specific tasks, too: mini trucks that creep along walking trails for garbage crews, vacuum trucks to clean the tram lines, mail motorbikes, and so. Given that Swiss chocolate is so famous not because of the cocoa beans but because of the conching machines developed here, these specialized machine should come as no surprise. The machines and the people all work to keep Basel working like, well, clockwork.

Upon doing a bit more research into Richard Scarry, I discovered that he bought a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, in the 1970s and lived and worked there until his death in 1994. So there just may be something to those lederhosen-wearing cats after all!