Mountain Man

Another thing to love about Switzerland: Art is everywhere. In fact, when something looks a bit out of the ordinary, I often pause and consider that I may have just stumbled across some “art”. No pause needed here!

Travel Between The Pages

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The Swiss street artist known as Saype recently completed this enormous “land work” in the mountains outside of Leysin, Switzerland. The piece, which is composed of cut and painted grass, depicts a relaxed man stretched out on a mountainside. Who would’t want to change places with this very contented guy for an afternoon.

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It’s a fool who does not read

Love this! Have you seen other book mobiles in your travels?

Travel Between The Pages

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Antonio La Cava taught elementary school students in the little mountain town of Ferrandina outside of Matera, Italy for 42 years. After retiring from teaching, he transformed a trusty  Ape mini-truck into a tiny bookmobile, which he calls thebibliomotocarro-320x191 “bibliomotocarro”. Since 2003, La Cava has travel 500 kilometers every month visiting eight rural Basilicata villages to spread the joy of reading and the love of books to kids and adults alike. With the motto “It’s a fool who does not read” and an itinerant lending library of 1200 books, the retired educator shares the magic of reading with all comers.

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Falling for the Fair

One of Basel’s most traditional events is the Herbstmesse, the fall fair. By traditional, I mean it’s been around for a long time,  in this case well over 500 years. Five hundred and forty-three, in fact.

According to the City of Basel website, “On 11 July 1471, at the Imperial Diet in Regensburg, Emperor Friedrich III granted the Mayor of Basel, Hannsen von Berenfels, the right to hold the Basel Autumn fair «in perpetuity». It starts 14 days before St. Martin’s day.”

The first day of the fair is traditionally the Saturday before the 30th of October. The fair’s opening is signalled by the Fair Bell of the Church of Saint Martin at exactly 12 o’clock.  This being Switzerland, exactly 12 o’clock means it is rung at exacly 12 o’clock!

Not ones to miss the oportunity to keep a tradition going, we popped by on Sunday. It was a glorious, warm fall day, so all the more reason to go. The fair now spreads through several locations in the city, but we limited ourselves to two:  Petersplatz and Barfusserplatz. Barfusserplatz is mostly rides and food vendors, but at Petersplatz, it is indeed a market fair, with booths selling all sorts of gifts and goods and, best of all, yummy treats.

sweet treats at Basel's Herbstmesse“Do I have marshmallow on my nose?”, asked my daughter after sampling a delightfully fluffy, coconut and chocolate covered, sugary confection. (Yes, she did). The raclette grills were out in force, as were the many stalls offering traditional Mandelbrot (almond bread, much like gingerbread), carmelized nuts, creamy caramels, and chocolate covered fruits. A few new traditions have snuck in over the years: Jeffrey’s has been offering Malaysian treats for a good ten years or so, and now there is a Chinese food hall as well. But Bratwurst stands and sweets stands still predominate.

I have no idea what 18th century and earlier amusement rides looked liked, but the modern Herbstmesse has variations on all the standard rides of today: Frog Hopper, Giant Swings, Pirate Ship, Mousetrap. The crowning glory is, however, the ferris wheel.  It’s always  a fun moment to notice when the ferris wheel appears on the horizon, bit by bit as it is assembled. I was watching for it this year, but it surprised me by appearing fully formed one day last week. It rises high above the Munster and is visible from far away. The views from the top, on a clear day, are spectacular.

The fair lasts two weeks, and then the great wheel will be dismantled, to appear next year and mark the 544th edition of the Herbstmesse.

Basel Ferris Wheel

Photo ©Christian Rüfli Used with Permission