Basel

26Cantons52Weeks: Basel-Landschaft

Canton: Basel-Landschaft

Destination: World of Dinosaurs, Birsfelden

Special guests: two very excited little boys

Interesting thing: We never knew the Rhine river had locks, but we got a chance to see two large, industrial river barges using them. Rather different to London’s cozy canals!

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The year is slipping away from me and it feels like the winter cold and dark has really kicked in now. I’m trying to make it to all the cantons but I might have to pull a few swifties and re-link to old posts or even invite some guest bloggers in to help me out if I’m going to make my deadline. But you don’t care about that, do you? Here be dinosaurs!

It’s nice when a plan comes together. Basel-Landschaft seems a rather like the poor cousin of the vibrant city of Basel-Stadt (they were once one canton but separated as the result of a scuffle in 1833 and now each rates as a half-canton in Swiss politics). And yeah, from my thorough research (Google and Wikipedia) as far as I can see, Baselland is mostly comprised of the rural area around Switzerland’s 3rd largest city. I am keen to visit the Roman ruins at the outdoor museum Augusta Raurica but that’s more suited to summertime. So I was pleased to find out about this dinosaur exhibition located on a small island on the BASELLAND side of the Rhine!

Truth be told, World of Dinosaurs was looking a little sad and dishevelled on Sunday. It has been cold and damp and, while there’s snow on the higher ground, there was none here. It’s that time of year when most of the autumn leaves have fallen but none of the snowy winter or Christmas magic has quite kicked in.

No matter. Two small boys were very excited as we approached and the subzero wind lifted the netting on the netting to show a hint of Mammoth tusk and thunder-lizard tail as we circumnavigated the exterior of Dino Corral. Inside, we were one of maybe four families there? The café was closed and the ground was muddy. But it was a pretty cool display and when the sun came out, we got some nice snaps. Points too for the so-bad-it’s-good dino-scooters ride complete with onboard Schlager soundtrack.

Although he was a bit wary of them at first, right before we left, my six year-old gave the three animatronic dinosaurs the ratings of two thumbs up, two thumbs up and ten out of ten. Success.

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

26Cantons52Weeks: Basel-Stadt

Jellyfish in the Vivarium

Canton: Basel-Stadt

Destination: Zoo Basel

Interesting thing: Basel Zoo is called “Zolli” by loving locals, according to tourist site MySwitzerland

Special guests: my parents again (this was the last one, sadly!)

I’m not big on zoos, nor animals in general, but when you have young kids to entertain, whatchagonnado? And I’ll tell you a secret:

Basel Zoo is better than Zurich Zoo.

While it feels rather disloyal to say it, Switzerland’s oldest and largest zoo (by number of animals) in Basel seems to show that experience wins hands-down over Zurich’s… um… funding? Location? I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong. Zurich Zoo is great and has saved my elephant-hide on many occasions when I desperately needed somewhere easy-ish to take two small kids that provided entertainment, shelter and food for an entire day.

And yet… and yet… Zurich Zoo sprawls rather awkwardly over an uneven, hilly terrain that means you always spend more time hoofing about than actually viewing your favourite four-legged creatures. Because of the layout, you have to make choices, too: Lions or Elephants? Tigers or Lemurs? Distance and gradient mean it’s almost impossible to see both in the same visit, especially with youngsters in tow.

Basel, on the other hand, curves and undulates in a far more pleasant and sensible-seeming way, meaning you naturally come across a lovely variety of its animal inhabitants. This is the second time I’ve been and I started from different ends of the zoo each time but on both occasions managed to see the gorgeous snow leopards, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, orangutans and the fish house/Vivarium. My eldest is also perversely fascinated by the locusts here and we loved seeing the Bison last year (missed them this time around – you can’t see everything!). But the stars of the show were definitely the Hippos. Wow, they put on a fantastic display.

Giraffes at Zoo Basel

Plus the main restaurant is brilliant. Maybe we had great timing (although we were there on a weekend, in school holidays), or perhaps there was a winning ratio of adults to kids (3:2 versus 2:4 usually at Zuri!) but Basel Zoo’s main eatery seemed far better set out and less crowded than its Zurich counterpart/s. Plus, they have the innovation of bagged lunches for kids and, believe me, when you’re juggling two hungry youngsters, a buggy and your own meal, it’s an absolute godsend not to have to balance a precarious lunch-tray as well!

Don’t get me wrong, Zurich Zoo is amazing but I gotta say, Basel’s got the edge. Bravo Basel!

Two months / nine weekends to go and eight cantons left to visit/ write up… hmmm.