It’s totally inaccurate (because it’s a Swiss city) but Basel was kind of like our last stop in Germany.

In our defence, it’s complicated. Walking down the Rhine into Basel, we crossed from Germany into Switzerland with France just 100 metres away on the opposite bank.

Sign in front of a footbridge across the Rhine explaining that by crossing it you enter France

Anyway, we quite took to Basel. It’s very pretty, everything works well and it has its own unique character.

We only really had a day there though. Just enough time to enjoy a few excellent activities.

Museum Tinguely

According to the local tourist information, there are over 34 museums in Basel. We had enough time to go to one and we lucked out with our choice.

Museum Tinguely is an art gallery with a permanent collection of works by the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely as well as space for more contemporary shows.

Tinguely’s works are kinetic, meaning a big part of them is that they move. Apart from how interesting it is to see sculptures and paintings change as you look at them, it also makes walking around the gallery a lot of fun.

Here are some of his works. Good eh?

Geometric sculpture by Jean Tinguely, like a cross between a Calder and a Miro but with movement

Everything still works

Probably one of the biggest surprises you get on your visit is seeing that almost all Tinguely’s artworks still move and can be operated as intended. That’s pretty amazing considering some of them are over 80 years old.

Wim Delvoye

The Belgian artist Wim Delvoye was showing at the Tinguely when we went.


He’s best known for his Cloaca machines which simulate the human digestive process.

The first Cloaca machine comprising a series of chemical jars bookended by a large vat at the start and what looks like a compressor at the end

It’s quite an eye-opener seeing everything that goes on inside you automated into a kind of factory process.

Yes, it does poo.

Other works

He’s also been busy with sculptures - remaking quite ordinary, functional forms in a humourous, overly decorative way.

Wim Delvoye work looking like a truck tyre engraved with complex patterns you'd normally see in church ironwork

Will Delvoye work looking like a cement truck made from elaborate church gating

Will Delvoye work comprising several gas cannisters decorated like delft ceramics

We thought the exhibition was great and it fitted in really well at the Tinguely. You can read more about the show on the museum’s website.

Swimming through Basel

We were camping a few kilometers east of Basel which gave us a chance to try swimming in the Rhine.

But on our day trip to the city we discovered you could do it there too.

People swimming in the Rhine

How to do it

  1. Get a dry bag to keep your belongings in.
  2. Find a good starting point.
  3. Change into swimming gear.

There are maps at points along the river to show you how to do it.

Map of the section of the Rhine you can swim in showing which areas to keep to and where to get in and out

Luckily the Tinguely has a perfect beach behind it. It also sells dry bags. And we happened to have our swimming gear with us.

No excuses then.

What it’s like

The water’s not warm but not too cold either so setting off is easy. You just wade in.

You have to be careful of boats, bridges and of drifting too close to the banks but mostly you just bob along, letting the current do all the hard work.

Tom wasn’t wearing his glasses which meant:

  • Roz had to tell him when to go left and right a bit
  • he missed all the naked sunbathers along the banks (poor Tom)

Anyway, once you’re in and going, it’s amazing. The city zooms past and it feels like you’re seeing it from a whole new perspective when you pass under the bridges. When you’re done it’s easy enough to swim to shore.

We were very pleased with ourselves when we got out.

Roz post Rhine swim

Tom post Rhine swim