remember how i was in basel last weekend? well, i was there road testing a new tourism app, which officially launches today!
the new free app, make my switzerland, is available on both iphone and android, and is perfect to help plan your swiss city break. as the blurb says; “whatever swiss city you’re visiting, whatever mood you’re in, ‘make my switzerland’ is the new app dedicated to bringing you an alternative local perspective on the best things to do in switzerland’s main cities. forget the guide books, these are the real cities through the eyes of those who live there.”
now i’m not one for lugging huge guide books around when you’re visiting a city on a short-haul break (seriously, who has space in their cabin luggage) so i always look to city guide apps for tips on the crème de la crème of the city, but this one is unique in having content put together specifically by locals – known as ambassadors – sharing their insider knowledge of their hometown.
i was lucky enough to have one of the basel ambassadors – style blogger lea zeitman of i saw something nice – showing me around the city on the saturday, and it was wonderful to see the city through her (very knowledgable, very stylish) eyes.
the first stop on lea’s tour was the saturday morning flea market at petersplatz. i don’t know about you, but as much as i love visiting local fleas and car boot fairs in london, i never usually feel brave enough to visit them abroad, mainly because i don’t know where/when they are but perhaps more importantly, it’s a bit difficult bartering in a language you don’t speak fluently (or, in my case in basel, at all!).
but with lea’s insider knowledge, i knew where and when i needed to be arriving at the market (around 9.30ish before the crowds swell) and i had a fantastic accomplice in staking out the very best flea market bargains. lea’s a dab hand at spotting vintage designer labels and knew a lot of the stall owners so was able to quickly spy out a gem!
after a quick pit stop for delicious roast vegetable and halloumi sandwiches, delectable homemade gelato and shots of reviving espresso at the delightful acero eiscafé (handily located across the road from krafft basel where i was staying) lea took me across the rhine to explore the city’s shopping district.
one of our first stops was at goldschmiede rosshoffgasse, the workshop of goldsmiths christin weber and selina brander, where they manufacture unique jewellery collections by hand. as lea explained, they attach great importance to close collaboration with their customers, so that each piece of jewellery they create reflects the individuality and character of the wearer. i must say, i fell in love with the beautifully textured ring below; tough and edgy with an elegant beauty at it’s heart.
from rosshofgasse we made our way along the quaint, narrow, winding streets, stopping off at the wonderful museum design collection shop, full of stylish everyday design objects such as the sophie conran for burgon & ball gardening range, biergert & funk’s qlock two range and max bill watches by junghans.
lea’s favourite shoe shop – rive gauche – was next on the agenda, which has been located in the heart of basel for more than 30 years and stocks a comprehensive range of beautiful leather shoes, wallets, belts and bracelets from the likes of mulberry, chloé, sergio rossi, mui mui and isabel marant. lea’s hot tip is to make sure you explore the sale rack in front of the shop, where you can find the most gorgeous bargain prices – indeed, while we were there lea unearthed a beautiful pair of gem-studded sandals by l’autre chose at a complete steal! in fact, you can see them in lea’s outfit post from our day out in basel here (doesn’t she look gorgeous!)
next stop on lea’s tour was seven sisters; a bright, colourful and poppy boutique selling products from some of my favourite brands, including hay.dk, bensimon, mt casa, artek and by mölle. i loved the colour co-ordinated window displays and friendly, welcoming staff, and would certainly recommend this as a must-visit for any design lover visiting basel.
leaving the city centre and walking along by the rhine, taking in the glorious sunshine and marveling at the locals taking a dip in the cool waters, we made our way along to the kleinbasel area of the city, where lea introduced me to what would become my favourite store of the trip, marinsel.
as lea explained, marinsel is the place for design-loving people and the best shop to find the perfect gift for the person who already has everything! from brands such as wood wood, norse projects, il bussetto and ally cappellino there was certainly plenty in store to capture my attention and i even managed to bag myself a bargain in the sale: a beautiful pale pink scarf with green palm leaves print by danish fashion brand ganni.
with our feet weary and our appetite for stylish design sated, we made our way back along the rhine as the sun began to dip, heading towards our dinner destination: restaurant ms veronica.
one of the loveliest things about basel is that, although there are a couple of bridges connecting grossbasel (south) and kleinbasel (north), there are also four little ferry boats that connect the two banks, operating throughout the day, mainly as a tourist attraction. we hopped on one of these to get across to the restaurant, and lea told me how each of the boats had been trussed up for the recent art basel show, with hand knitted adornments and matching cushion covers for the benches – adorable, right?
the restaurant itself is housed on a platform jutting out into the rhine, which by day operates as a bath house, and by night becomes a lively and vibrant mediterranean-style restaurant serving fresh and seasonal cuisine, that offers a wonderful vantage point for watching the sun set over the city. pleasantly full after a delicious meal of goats cheese and cucumber salad, followed by a porcini and taleggio risotto, and (naughtily) a delectable semifreddo with grapefruit and a sprinkling of nuts, we ambled our way back along the river, taking in the sights of the city by moonlight.
a truly wonderful way to end a very lovely day!
the make my switzerland app is free to download and available on both iphone and android. for recommendations just choose whether you are feeling cultural, stylish, social and active and you will be given a number of options based upon your location and/or date of your trip (for up-to-the-minute event listings). the app is also packed full of special rewards – by simply sharing the app with friends you’ll automatically unlock loads of discounts and offers to use during your trip.
p.s. as a complete and utter aside (and mainly because i didn’t know the answer prior to heading to switzerland), do you know why swiss website domains are .ch? no, it doesn’t stand for chocolate (shame, though..), it is the abbreviation of confoederatio helvetica (helvetic confederation),the latin name for the country – funny, right?