Friday, November 30, 2018

Day 4 in Europe: Basel Switzerland

The Basel Town Hall (German: Rathaus Basel, locally known as Roothuus) is a 500-year-old building dominating the Marktplatz in Basel, Switzerland. 
The Town Hall houses the meetings of the Cantonal Parliament as well as the Cantonal Government of the canton of Basel-Stadt. 
The Great Council Chamber at one time featured a series of frescoes painted in 1522 by Hans Holbein the Younger, which have been lost.[1][2] Fragments of the work as well as some of the initial drawings are kept in the Kunstmuseum.[3] 
"Rathaus" literally means "council house" while the term "Roothus" in the local Basel German dialect means both "council house" but also sounds like "red house", a pun with reference to the red sandstone facade of the building.
All these pictures were taken from the courtyard of Rathaus. For someone from Canada it's hard to get your head around the age of these places. And this one is only 500 years old.

Notice the beautiful murals on the walls. It was difficult to get very good pictures because of the shadows inside the courtyard.

I signed the guest book.

Day 5 in Europe: London England - Adventures with heat/wall/phone

So I wasn't able to blog yesterday because of lack of time. I did get some pictures, so I may do it later. But I probably won't.

We had to leave the hotel at noon. We took a tram, then a train, then a plane to London. Then Douglas, a lovely man who drives for a living, picked us up at the airport and brought us to the hotel. We finally arrived around 9:00 PM.

That's when the fun began.

Before I begin, I have to say something. I do not want any comments from the peanut gallery about my adventures with my phone. Understood?

Okay so that's settled.

We checked into our room. It was very hot. Over 25 degrees. I then went to reception and asked for someone to tell me how to lower the heat. Well lo and below they are having problems with the boiler and the heat can't be lowered. Okay I said. So I'll open the window. Well the window is nailed shut. You can't open it. Are you kidding me? Not only that, but when you look out the window you see a wall.

Back out to reception. Can we please change rooms please? Okay we'll change you tomorrow. Okay fine, I said. We went and split a pizza and had a beer. It was very good. Especially the beer.

We slept pretty well, got up, had breakfast and I walked Johanna to the train station so she could go to her office in Welland.

So far so good. Then it began.

We needed phone cards. So I bought two of them, one for each of us. I went back to the hotel to put mine in my phone. Jo would do hers later.

I pop out the SIM card. And take the new SIM card and put it in my phone. Easy peasy right? Wrong. The phone doesn't work. I go back to where I bought the SIM cards and the woman there looks at my phone and says did you not put the SIM into the case for the SIM card? I said no I didn't. She looks at me sadly. She gets her guy to try and get the SIM card out. He can't. I start to sweat. Okay what do I do now? She says, well you can pray. I did that once, she says, when my fridge broke and it was fixed and is still working.

Okay. That's a good idea. So I said a prayer. Then I said, well where can I get it fixed? She suggested a store nearby. I went there. That guy couldn't fix it either. Well can you suggest somewhere else, I said? He suggested another place. Nope he couldn't fix it either. That guy said go to Tottenham court, they have a whole bunch of phone places there.

Now remember without a phone I don't have data. Which means I don't have Google maps. And I am directionally challenged. In Ottawa. Never mind London England. So I might get lost. Now I'm worried. You're probably getting bored right now, assuming you're still reading at all, so I'll try and speed this up. I went to three more shops. And the third one, THE GUY FIXED MY FREAKING PHONE. I think he had to heat the phone or something to get it to open. I don't know and I don't want to know. He was a genius. And I didn't even get his name.

Apparently they make phones now, so you can't get into them. There are no screws or ways to open a phone and remove the stupid SIM card when a person of questionable intelligence puts the SIM card into the phone without the thingy. So when you shove your SIM card into your phone without the thingy with it, your phone becomes useless. I guess the manufacturer wants you to throw out the phone now, and buy a new one.

I didn't get the guy's name but here's his shop. MJ is my hero.

So I now had data, praise be to Jesus and I headed back to the hotel. I came upon a Church (The Church of Christ the King). Not a Catholic church but a high Anglican church. I spoke to the priest there, a Fr. Peter, and as luck would have it there was a Mass at 12:30. It was now 12:15. I thought it only fitting that I stay and thank God for getting my phone fixed.

The Mass was very similar to a Catholic Mass. It was lovely, and very reverent. And the priest gave a beautiful homily on St. Andrew whose feast day it is today. 

So that was a four hour adventure. I walked over 8 KM. But my phone is fixed. We did get another room. And the window opens. The room is still hot.

Thank you St. Andrew. And Fr. Peter. And MJ. And God. Three out of four ain't bad. Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Day 3 in Europe: Basel Switzerland

This morning I went to Mass again at St. Clara's church. The Mass was said in Swiss/German, and again I stayed for adoration.

I then bought a whack of chocolates to bring home. I mean I'm in Switzerland right? You buy chocolates. And oh boy, are they good. I hope they fit into my suitcase.

After lunch I took the city bus tour of Basel. The pictures below are all from my walking though. The beauty of walking as opposed to a bus tour is that you can spend more time. The pictures below are only a fraction of the ones I took. Lots of the Rhine river.

The very last picture below is where the bus stops and you can see a tall spire that represents where the three countries meet: Switzerland, France and Germany. In fact they actually converge in the Rhine River. But I think if you stood at that actual point you might get, you know, wet.

The pictures of the Cathedral below are the Munster Church. It was originally a Catholic Church, and is now a Reformed Protestant church. That's happened to a lot of Churches here. Or else they aren't churches at all any more.

I now have a translation from the plaque from yesterday's post (thanks to Jacek and Barb for that).

There were a whole bunch of plaques in the courtyard on the walls of Munster, some in Latin, some in either German or Swiss. I started taking pics of them but there were far too many. Plus I couldn't read them anyway. But I bet they are really informative. 

Tomorrow we fly to London.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Day 2 in Europe: Basel Switzerland

This is the view from our breakfast table. A tugboat pushing a barge down the Rhine river.

This church below is the Elisabethenkirche Basel. Wikipedia says it was built in 1857 but from the plaque below I see the year 1516, which was the beginning of the Reformation (1517-1648). Maybe it was built that year, I don't know. Looks like in 1824 to 1893 it was Reform Evangelical?

If anyone can translate that plaque let me know. There isn't much on the Internet in English on this church. I didn't go inside it. I will see tomorrow if I can.

UPDATE: Translation for this plaque:
"Built 1857-65 after the plans of Ferdinand Stadler (1813-70) under the management of Christoph Riggenbach (1810-63) and C.J. Wartner (1817-91). 
Donated from Christoph Merian (1800-58) as "bulwark against the evil spirit of the time" 
in place of a chapel built in 1516. Most important neo-Gothic church of Switzerland with completely preserved interior decoration. 
Glass windows from Heinrich Burkhard (1824-93). Evangelical-reformed church."

Lots of trams in Basel. They are everywhere.

Today I found another Catholic Church, St. Clara's. It is about 500 metres from our hotel. Adoration was happening when I visited and it was wonderful to be able to be there at that time to pray for everyone.

At the end of Adoration, one of the congregants put the Holy Eucharist back in the Tablernacle. I had never witnessed this before, it is always the priest that does this in Canada.

After the lady did this, we sang the Tantum Ergo (a beautiful rendition here), and there were more prayers and I'm not sure which language they were. She probably said them in Swiss or German. I think it was the Angelus since it was 12 noon. Here is the Angelus in Latin sung beautifully by the Daughters of Mary.

More interesting art. I didn't see any stations of the Cross in this church, just like there weren't any in the church we went to on Sunday.

From the information on this plaque looks like this church has lost most of its probable splendour from when it was built as there have been at least two renovations done since.

Here is an interesting story of the Church and the nuns there. Not sure if I should believe it or not. Perhaps some truth and some fiction?

At least it had a crucifix, actually it had two of them. And a few statues. I didn't take a picture of the outside of the church as there were some pop up markets in front of it, so hard to get a decent picture.

These pictures were taken of the Rhine River as I crossed it on the bridge between our hotel and where the church was.

And as a bonus feature, and to check if you read to the bottom of this blog entry, I had a very interesting dream last night that I will share with you. I dreamt that Pope Francis died, and the Church appointed me as Pope. I am not kidding. In the dream I thought that this was strange indeed. Since I am neither a man, nor a priest, nor any kind of clergy at all. So there you have it. Dreams from Basel. Make of it what you will.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Day 1 in Europe: Basel Switzerland

Johanna and I are in Basel Switzerland for four days. We leave for London Thursday. We arrived here yesterday pretty tired from our overnight flight from Toronto to Zurich. We took a train to Basel and walked to our hotel from the train station.

Johanna is here for work and I am on my own during the day. Lucky me.

Not a lot of sleep on the plane for either of us but I was able to sleep better than Jo. I even managed to fall asleep on the train, head bobbing as a sleeping head does. We both napped in the hotel.

After eating at Migro's (grocery/take out place) we took the tram to 5:30 Mass at one of the few English Catholic Churches in Basel, Bruder Klaus Kirche, Bruderholzallee.

Very stark church. You can see the cross below. Not sure exactly what it depicts.

I also searched for the Tabernacle in the Sacristy but couldn't find it. I finally spotted it on the alter at the very right of the altar, during the Consecration. Johanna thought it looked like a recycle container. The Holy Eucharist was kept in a red vessel that reminded me of a casserole dish (I didn't take a picture of it). You can barely see it on the right hand side of the altar.

Then we took the tram back, and we walked around and discovered the Christmas Market. Very pretty.

We are staying at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois. They have figurines of the three wise men on the stair landing. That surprised me--something religious in the hotel. Then Jo remarked that it was the name of the hotel. Duh.

A hint of Christmas.

This is quite the fancy hotel. Breakfast was included. Oh my goodness. We ate like three kings. Fresh fruit, poached eggs, sausage, croissants, cappuccino, homemade jam and some to die for cheese. We were offered a glass of champagne after breakfast. We declined.

I walked Johanna to work and returned to the hotel. Some prayer time in the library. Then back out for another long walk through the market again. Wasn't as busy as last night. Beautiful stuff but expensive. I did buy some marzipan/nougat for 8 Swiss Francs. 

I discovered Google maps as a walking tool. How did I ever live without it? For people who are directionally challenged, in places that don't post street names, what an amazing thing this is. I need never get lost again.

I found this place, a former church (there are more than a few former churches in Basel)
"The Leonhardskirche is part of Basel's best remaining Medieval history. Its crypt dates back to the 11th century, but the cloistered church was built in the 14th & 15th centuries, so it is Late Gothic. Full of soaring, perfectly crafted arches, windows, nooks and crannies, this is one magnificent old church to explore."

I intended to write this blog entry in the library. But it was being set up for a function of some kind. So instead I went to the lounge. I was going to ask for a cut of tea. Until I found out it would be 14 Swiss Francs. That's about $20 Canadian. I decided against the tea.