This week I have made two trips to the beautiful city of Basel. One trip was for pleasure, the other was a work related event (which was also pleasant). Monday morning saw the departure of two of very good friends. With the Euro-airport so nearby it is the arrival and departure place of many folks who come for short visits.
On Monday the girls and I were able to drop friends off at the airport, and then spend a few hours walking around Basel. Each time I visit Basel I see more and more – becoming familiar with the sights and sounds of a busy city. On this short visit we were able to quickly get to places of interest now that we have got our bearings. We went to part of the University, the Botanical Gardens, the RathausRathaus and one of the old city gates – the Spalentor. This looping tour took us though narrow side streets and even into a tourist trap store selling trinkets at a high cost. The girls decided that they had, over a few visits, walked most of Basel, and would now like to have a city crest to pin to their walking sticks at home as a trophy, or sign of accomplishment. When we entered the shop in search of the small shields and another woman with a young girl were leaving, we overheard the shop clerks saying, “that makes three English speakers today!” The girls and I found the crests we were looking for (for a small fortune in CHF!) and began talking to the staff in all the languages we knew of. After speaking, German, English and French the women behind the counter finally asked were we were from so they could add us to their private game of ‘count the tourist’.
The following day, I returned to Basel for a meeting with friends and colleagues in the Anglican Church in Basel for our educational meeting. These meetings are of really value, as it can be a lonely job being the only Anglican minister in town. Not only is there some fellowship and prayer together, but we also take turns presenting and discussing various topics for educational purposes. This particular gathering was to hear about the Christology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as there had recently been a global symposium on the life and work of Bonhoeffer. It was good to stretch our brains and think critically about the impact of what was then a very young Bonhoeffer and his contribution to theological thought. With our topic and surrounding discussions I could help thinking about my own lecture that I am to give at the University of Freiburg regarding the celebration of the Reformation and the links with the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion. I hope I can match the quality of study given by my esteemed colleague that joined us in Basel.
Over the two different days of visiting one of the things that impressed me most was hearing how much my eldest daughter had learned about Basel from her school classes. The bridges, and surrounding geography were recalled in detail and it was like having our own private tour guide. There is, of course, always more to explore in Basel, and in Freiburg…but that is for another day and another journey.