Basel Carnival 2018 – about the lantern exhibition: Eating insects, figugegl and hol’s dr Geier

Let us come back to the lantern exhibition 2018 on the Cathedral Square with some cheerful topics: Eating insects, Figugegl and hol’s dr Geier.


Eating insects

Eating insects – this is a new gourmet trend that can be well expressed in the masks and fancy costumes matching the lanterns.

Look at this enticing menu made from insects. “Dä Börger isch feiner mit e paar Säggsbeiner” – “this (ham)-burger is more delicious with a few (animals with) six legs”.

Enjoy the barbecue at the edge of the plate: “Made, Würmer muesch uffspiesse, erscht denn kasch s’Ässe richtig gniesse” – “grubs, worms – this is what you have to skewer, only then you can enjoy your meal.”

This lantern plays with the words: “Dr Wurm isch dinne” – “the worm is inside”. Yes, the worm is inside the meal, but in German this means at the same time: “This is, where the rub or the problem is”.

At the cortège, the Pfluderi were disguised as grasshoppers assembling around this huge grasshopper. The verse says: “In dr Gourmetbaiz froogt e Maa, könnt ich d’Made saignant ha” – “in the restaurant a guest asks, whether he could have the grub rare”.



Many, many years ago, Figugegl was the publicity for Fondue, one of the Swiss national meals (melted cheese). Figugegl was an acronym: „Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune“ or “Fondue is good and gives good humour”. The Gassegotter replaced “Fondue” with “Fitness” which leads to “Fitness isch gsund und git e gueti Luune” or “Fitness is good and gives good humour”.

The Gassegotter comment the trend for extreme slimness by recommending that „äs birebitzli rund isch gsund“ or “a little bit “round” is healthy”.


Hol’s dr Geier – Basel first

Trump says „USA first“. On this lantern I found „Basel zerscht“ or “Basel first” , along with – „hol’s dr geier“ or “the vulture may grab it”.

Well, the vulture might be a sign for bankruptcy, but… “D’Roche Schuublaade sin no lang nyt lär, das fräit e jede-n-Aggtionär“ or “the drawers of Roche will not be empty for many years, this makes every shareholder happy”.

In addition I find here a tought about the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square: „Dä Münschterplatzz (isch) schön, Ladärne dört obe schtön“ – “That Cathedral Square is beautiful – lanterns are standing up there.”

Yes I agree, the Cathedral Square is beautiful, in particular, when the lanterns are “up there”. And I agree: Basel first! – I look forward to next year’s lantern exhibition on Tuesday, March 12th 2019.


Basel Carnival 2018 – about the exhibition of lanterns: The world at risk

Let us come back to the lantern exhibition 2018 at the Cathedral Square. This time I will talk about the gloomy topic that largely dominated this year’s carnival: The world at risk.

This is, how the Giftschnaigge illustrate the subject “Risiko – risk” on their lantern: “D’Wält stoot uff em Spiil” – “The world is at stake”. The metapher for “at stake” in German is “auf dem Spiel” which relates to the politicians gambling. The punch with gambling only works in German.

Three politicians are on the lantern below, Kim Jong Un loving the United States (hm), Putin sitting on an innocent unicorn and Trump uttering something not very nice.

The Alte Stainlemer painted more abstract faces for Kim and Trump at PjöngJangeles alluding to the Olympic Games in South Korea and simultaneously to the competition about “Ballistic Games” between the two.

The other side of their lantern shows Kim and Trump competing to score. In the cortège or parade “incarnations” of the two competitors even perfomed their score mastering. In another “incarnation”, Trump and Kim played with a globe and from time to time placed it on a nuclear power plant tower.

The Schnurebegge say on their lantern: “Es dien die beide wirre Irre zünftig mit de Sääbel klirre” – “the two confused fools are jangling heavily with their swords”.

The group CCB (Central Club Basel) invented the new name “Corean Club Basel”. Kim presents a very explosive menu, it is “a bombe surprise”.

“Wenn die acht so wytermache, wird die Wält usenander krache” –  In case these eight guys will continue in this way, the world is going to break apart”. Do you recognize the eight faces that the Dupf Club assembeld in this balloon?

Some lanterns show visions of where we may end up, in case the politicians will continue in this way.

All very frightening, but this is what the Basel Carnival is about – discussing both cheerful AND gloomy topics. The Carnival acts as a catalyzer for good and bad feelings. In my next, third blog about the exhibition of lanterns, I will take up some more cheerful topics.

Basel and its Carnival – about the 2018 exhibition of lanterns: Fake news, digital world and sharing economy

Short overview of the Basler Fasnacht or Basel Carnival

This year the Basel Carnival took place from 19th to 21st of February 2018, for the first time as a Unesco World Heritage.

As always, it started with the Morgestraich – a word that cannot be translated. Look at this link from the Luzernerzeitung, to see how, on Monday at precisely 4 o’clock a.m., the lights go out, the drums and pipes start playing and the lanterns start to “walk” through the dark night. This is the magic moment that kicks off our “three extraordinary days”.The 2018 motto is: “D’Boscht goot ab” which means “we are kicking it off right”, but which in addition alludes to the post offices (Boscht) that are changing dramatically right now.

Many of the topics taken up at the 2018 Carnival were political. I will present some of the political and some of the more cheerful topics by strolling through the lantern exhibition at the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) which takes place all Tuesday and on Wednesday morning. During this time the Cliquen or carnival groups do not need their lanterns. They pick them up again later on Wednesday for the second parade or cortège. In the cortèges of Monday and Wednesday, the lanterns match the masks and the disguise to illustrate the topics selected by the groups.

Also the Schnitzelbanggsänger (some sort of minstrels) comment the events of the year. Here are two verses about fake news and about #metoo (both sung by Stächpalme which in biology is a holly. However, literally translated it is a “biting palm tree” alluding to the biting comments the Stächpalme makes).

Fake news:

Dr Trump het gnueg vom wysse Huus und wird neu Chef vo Twitter
Dr Pabscht hürootet d’Lindysey Vonn und landet hinter Gitter
D‘Merkel schtolkt dr Macron z’Nacht im Dussel – s’isch e Gruus,
D’Queen kifft mit em Butler – ich verfolg der Fake Niuus Bluus.

Trump is sick of the White House and now became head of Twitter,
the Pope marries Lindsey Vonn and ends up behind bars.
Merkel stalks Macron at night when drunk – it is just gloomy.
The Queen smokes weed with her Butler – I am following the Fake News Blues.

#metoo :

Jetzt goot’s em Santiglaus an Kraage.
die alt Frau Niggli isch am Klaage,
Er hege’re vor 80 Joor – sy heig das lang verdrängt -,
won‘r sy in Sagg geschteggt heg, ans lingge Schynbai aneglänggt.

Now Santa Clause has a problem.
Old Mrs Wicky is complaining,
it was 80 years ago – she has suppressed that for a long time -,
that, when pushing her in his sack, he touched her left shinbone.

During Carnival the weather was mostly clouded, sometimes sunny. It never rained. Temperatures were chilly, as the frozen Tingueley fountain shows.

Even the ducks avoided the water – simply too cold.


The exhibition of lanterns on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning

Our Cathedral from the 11th and 14th century is a great background for the lanterns exhibited at the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square.

Let me start with the lanterns about fake news, the digital world and the sharing economy. Important details on the lanterns are the small verses – I will try to translate some of them.


Fake News

The Barbara Clique takes up the topic “Fake News” and transcribing it to our local dialect “alles glooge, feyk niuus” – “all lies – fake news”.

Their lantern is a big Pinocchio on one side.

Pinocchio’s long nose alludes to the fact that he often lies – and this is what fake news are about – lies.

The other side of the lantern shows all the well known politicians looking down into hell where Pinocchio is emerging.

These are some of the verses:  “Isch dr Trump am Twittere, isch die ganzi Wält am Zittere” – When Trump is twittering, the whole world is shivering”. And “Dr Trump froogt dr Erdogaan, lyydisch au an Greessewaan?” – Trump asks Erdogan, do you also suffer from delusions of grandeur?”

Walking around the lantern I find this verse: “S’git Lyt, die dien sich soo verbiege, dass sy nit mergge, dass sy liege” – some people are distorting their body so much that they do not notice that they are lying” (distorting alludes to lies).

And another small detail: “Do im Roothuus dien si liege, bis sich alli Bälgge biege” – “Here in (our) townhall they are lying that all beams are being distorted.” In our dialect (and also in German), “to lie, until the beams are being distorted” or “to lie, until you are distorted” means that you are REALLY lying.

The group Seibi Mysli (little mice from the Seibi or Barfüsser Square) transformed the alternative facts into our dialect: “Lätz geschwätzti Facts” or “Wrongly stated facts”. The verse says “do muesch dy frooge, verglemmi alles glooge” – you have to ask, what the deuce, all just lies” (“verglemmi” is a rather soft swearword in the Basel dialect, I am not sure, how to translate that into English).

And the washer women are complaining: “Mir Wöschfraue könne de News nümme draue” – We washer women can no longer trust the news”.


A digital world

Digital was another topic coming up – everything goes digital, even the war. But there are also more cheerful sides about digital, which are google omnipresent for searching and the Emojis.

The most innovative (and I assume, the most expensive) lantern was the globe made by the “d’Revoluzzer”. It is not a painted lantern, but it consists out of 40 screens that are changing scenes. The globe weighs more than a ton and is pulled on a cart. By the way, when you pronounce “digital” in Basel, it comes out like “digidal”.

Digital may end up in a digital war, as this gloomy figure illustrates grabbing everything in its way.

The young department of the group (Clique) Rätz show a more cheerful aspect of digital. They ask “Dänggsch no oder guuglisch scho?” – “Do you still think our do you already google?” “Google” is transcribed to “guugle” and is often used as a verb in our local dialect (Du guuglisch=you google).

Without thinking first, the Jungi Rätz comment that we often google everything such as “WorumWärWasWämWoWieWenn” – WhyWhoWhatWhomWhereHowWhen”.

The very small guys of the Naarebaschi (very small guys are “Binggis” in Basel) illustrate the topic “Emoji instead of ABC”. Maybe the Binggis hope that they do no longer have to learn, how to write, but can use Emoji instead. At the cortège (parade) they all came disguised as Emojis – a great topic for small guys or Binngis.

The lantern of the Binggis gives an overview of Emojis. I particularly like the brownish emoji with the happy face.


Sharing economy

The Wiehlmys or digging mice (I also found the “biological expression” “root vole”) propose to “rent a mouse” which in our dialect can be expressed as “Muuslehne”.

The verse on the cash says “Nyt me, was me nyt uuslehne kaa, fir Gäld kasch aifach alles ha” or “Nothing that you cannot rent, for money you can have everything.” Yes, I have heard that you can even rent sheep to cut your lawn…

 Let us put off some more lanterns of the Cathedral Square exihibition for some later blogs.


Basler Fasnacht – impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig

Fasnacht 2017 at Basel (carnival) was celebrated in March, from Monday 6th/4 a.m. to Thursday 9th/4 a.m. Let me recall impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig or exhibition of lanterns.


The exhibition of lanterns (Ladärne-n-Usschtellig ) takes place on the Münsterplatz –  a great background

On carnival Tuesday, the lanterns (Ladärne) are presented on the Münsterplatz – the cathedral underlines the solemnity of the many pieces of art presented here. They are the centerpieces of the sujets (or themes) that the Cliquen (carnival groups) have selected for this year’s carnival. Here I am remembering some of the themes.


One theme: China – buying enterprises

China is buying enterprises, also in Switzerland. “Kyna duet do läädele” (China goes shopping here). Syngenta was on their buying list – may be La Roche (La Losch) is next and then also the “Fääle” (the Rhine ferry boat, it seems that the Chinese say “l” instead of “r”)…

… or they may intend to buy the Sutter Begg (a well-known bakery), the Basler Kantonalbank (bank of Basel), BVB (the public transportation of Basel) and more…

The Asian cat is greeting us.

Another theme: Angscht – fear – adds a black mood to this year’s carnival

Many lanterns are dark. “Angscht” or “fear” is omnipresent.

The Lälli Clique presents Atlas trying to prevent the world from falling apart.

Idefix, the small dog of Obelix, swears “bim Teutates” and underlines his anger with his paw: D’Wält spinnt” (the world is crazy –  but I love Basel),…

… they are are all cheating (alles trixt)… VW, Fifa and Bangge (the banks)… and they are paying no taxes (verstüürnix)… and Service publix? – Well, I watch Nexflix”

“Extrem rächts” or extremely right-wing – is a tendency that worries some of the carnival groups. Ghosts from the past?


Some more joyful themes: Heidi, holes in Switzerland, Pokemons and more

This patriotic Swiss scenery – an almost perfect world – is brightening up the mood: Heidi, Spyri’s novel about the girl from the mountains, has recently been filmed. Here she is acting in front of the camera with Gaissepeter (goatherd Peter).

The new Gotthard railway tunnel has been inaugurated shortening travel time between the Ticino and the rest of Switzerland. For the inauguration festîvities, our Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard wears a jacket with round holes – resembling our cheese from the Emmental. Her jacket is controversial – many like it and some do not. “GottArt” for the Gotthard is a punch and the marmots welcome the tunnel as well. I think, the jacket with holes is a great and courageous idea.

Pokemons are hidden all over Basel and around the cathedral. This hype became a wonderful topic full of fantasy, primarily for some “Jungi Garde” or kids in the carnival groups.

The City-Hupfer allows tourists to hop (hupfe) AROUND the Basel city center. AROUND the city center, because much of the center is car free: The tourists have to leave the bus and walk to reach the sights. The number plate is “BS or Basel 2017”.

The Swiss boxer Anton Gjergjaj is very successful. Here he is as batman with the black double eagle on his red coat. In the cortège (parade), the drummers and pipers were cobras.

This lantern is full of details commenting the world. I particulary like “the hundred days of Sankt Ischias” in the damp Verena canyon. The monk is suffering from sciatic pain (Ischias). “Das Kreuz als Kraftort” translates to “the cross as a place of power”. In German it is a punch, as “Kreuz” can be both the Christian “cross” and also the lower part of the back (where the sciatic pain hurts).


Yet another theme: Food

The Binggis (young kids) ask where the milk comes from, and they ask it in German, French and Italian. Well, we buy our milk in shops, and it comes in cardboard boxes – like the shape of the lantern. Kids from towns may not know the real source – cows, as the white color and black spots suggest.

“Fleisch isch geschter – mir grille, grille” (Meat is yesterday, we are barbecuing, barbecuing). “Grille” is Swiss German for “to barbecue” and “grille” is also the insect “cricket” that we may eat in future (instead of meat). “Grille” is a punch that only works in Swiss German.

The Queerschleger look for healthy “super food” such as carots, mais, cucumbers or fennel. “Güürkli” or “gherkins” are another option. In all… juice and organic vegetables are good for our heart, and also “gsund fir d’Katz und dr Hund” (healthy for the cat and the dog).

On this same lantern, the crab shows the white flag… and it may be successful, if we restrict our diet to nothing but vegetables.

May this white flag brighten the often dark mood of this year’s carnival and give hope that Atlas will hold the world together such that next year’s carnival will present more bright topics.

Yes, next year in 2018, Fasnacht will be on February 19th to 21st. As always it will start on Monday at 4 a.m. with the Morgestraich (“morning stroke”, see the video of radio Basilisk). It is celebrated with the Cortège (parade), Schnitzelbängg (carnival songs), Kinderfasnacht (children’s carnival), Guggekonzärt (“dissonant” brass music) and Schyssdräggzygli (small groups piping and drumming). It ends with the Endstreich (“final stroke”) on Thursday 4 a.m. The Fasnachtscomité explains it all and the internet is full of reviews and videos. I always enjoy the creative skill that the groups (called “Cliquen”) demonstrate year after year and look forward to 2018.






Around Basel on a rainy day – in search of the Benkenspitz or Bänggeschpitz

Today it is a rainy and rather warm mid-February day in 2017. I set out to discover the Benkenspitz or “Bängeschpitz”. This is a narrow forest “wedge” of Benken (Switzerland) extending into France between the two French villages Hagenthal and Neuwiller (the border between Switzerland and France is drawn in pink on this Swissmobility map).


This “wedge” called “Benkenspitz” is some 900m long and some 100m wide. The narrowest place is at the “entrance” in the south – just 62m wide. In the Internet I found some secondary information that says this forest “wedge” has already belonged to Benken, when Basel acquired it in the early 16th century. It is assumed that this might have been a good place for hunting. Actually I came across quite a few hunting stands in this area both on the Swiss and on the French side.

My  blog “Around Basel – looking for old boundary stones on a sunny cold day” talks about my cold winter walk to the boundary stones between Oberwil (that until about 1800 belonged to the Bishopric of Basel) and Benken (that – with Biel – had been acquired by the town Basel soon after 1500). Today it is rather warm and rainy. The Passwang is still covered with snow.


I am on the Bielhübel in front of the water reservoir with its natural pond.


Not far from here are the beautifully restored boundary stones from the 17th and 18th century that mark the border between Oberwil (Bishopric of Basel) and Biel-Benken (belonging to Basel).


I continue my way above Biel and come across a lady on a very, very dirty mountain bike. “Have you seen anyone on a mountain bike – I have lost my husband… no?… “Matthias, Matthiaaaas”… I do not want to frighten the animals, there is so much deer around here… I am from Spain… Matthiaaaas, Matthiaaaaaaass…” and finally Matthias replies and she is happy. “You are looking for boundary stones?… there is one not far from here…”, she says knowing well the history of Biel-Benken. Right, here it is, shortly before reaching the Swiss hiking path marked in green at the Swiss-French border.


From here I continue along the Swiss-French border between Neuwiller and Biel-Benken. A small footpath follows the boundary stones, marked with the Swiss cross on one side…


… and with the “F” for France on the other side (1816 – this was just after the Congress of Vienna in 1815).


Later this well prepared hiking path ends and continues as a muddy path. EXACTLY where the nice path ends and the mud begins is – guess what – the border between France and Switzerland.


I cross this road to continue following the boundary stones. I meet a lady with two dogs. She comes from Neuwiller in France and takes out dogs of various owners. We speak French with one another while one of the dogs barks loudly at me – with a French accent.


After having paved my way through a muddy meadow, I cross the road connecting Benken with Neuwiller. Again, it is very clear, where the border is. Baselland (Basle Country), the canton of cherry trees, says good-bye to the cars crossing the border and driving to Neuwiller in France.


I cross the road and follow the ditch that is the border between Switzerland and France. This one boundary stone is nicely coloured on the Swiss side.


Still following the ditch I approach the “entrance” of the Benkenspitz. It starts on the meadow between the two forests.


I first see the boundary stone to the west of the “entrance”. I am confused, but then I find the stone marking the east of the “entrance” to the forest “wedge” and enjoy the view of the Jura hills in Switzerland.


I continue along the east line – one boundary stone after the next to make it all clear, where Switzerland ends in this narrow wedge and where France starts.


A huge tractor cuts trees – in France. I  have reached the end of the Swiss wedge called “Benkenspitz” and return back along the west border – again well  marked.


I leave the Benkenspitz behind me and continue to follow the French-Swiss border. This is an interesting cooperation: A Swiss traffic sign (only residents are allowed to drive here) and a French hiking sign of the Club Vosgien.


And – across of this French-Swiss cooperation – be aware, following this hiking sign takes you to France, only allowed when having nothing to declare!


Along vineyards the boundary stones lead me down towards Benken.


I take the bus back to Bottmingen – good that public transportation works so efficiently.

Around Basel – looking for old boundary stones on a sunny cold day

It is one of those winter days in January when I am happy to live in Basel, because the sun shines here, while the plateau of Switzerland including Zurich is covered with clouds. It is a sunny, but very, very cold day today. The fields on the Bruderholz are “dressed up” for winter.


I start my winter hike here.


The small nature reserve lakes are frozen and covered with snow that are decorated by animal tracks.


The bench looks inviting, but a little cold.


I approach Therwil and capture the view of the Blauen mountain range and the border with France in the haze (looking west).


I have crossed Therwil and look south across the vineyards of Therwil.


In Therwil, I am on the ground of the former Prince- Bishopric of Basel. Then I approach the border of protestant Biel-Benken that has belonged to the city of Basel. The border between Biel-Benken and Therwil/Oberwil has been carefully marked by boundary stones. This is the first boundary stone I come across – I call it  “corner stone”.


Next to the stone, this panel explains the history.


The border between Therwil/Oberwil and Biel-Benken was a major frontier in history. In the beginning of 16th century, Basel acquired areas from the impoverishing noblemen, one of these areas being Biel-Benken. Also at that time, Basel joined Switzerland and became protestant. The bishop of Basel had to leave “his town”; he moved to Pruntrut and continued to belong to Germany and the German emperor. The possessions of the bishop were called “the Prince-Bishopric of Basel”. The bishop owned Therwil and Oberwil that were located between Biel-Benken and Basel. Biel-Benken – belonging to Basel – was an exclave.  Around 1800 the Prince-Bishopric was dissolved and in 1815, the Congress of Vienna allocated Therwil and Oberwil to Basel (see also André Salvisberg u.a.: “Historischer Atlas der Region Basel”, Christoph Merian Verlag 2010). The once important border separating two countries (Germany and Switzerland) became a border separating just communities.

The (historical) border around Biel-Benken is adorned with boundary stones from the 17th and 18th century marking the frontier between Basel and the Prince-Bishopric of Basel. I look for the stones in the forest above Biel-Benken.


This stone from 1774 has been beautifully restored. It shows the coat of arms of the prince-bishop Simon Nikolaus de Monjoie pointing to the Prince-Bishopric side.


Towards Biel-Benken there is the coat of arms of Basel – as Biel-Benken belonged to Basel.


This boundary stone shows the bishop’s crook and a coq on the side pointing to the Prince-Bishopric. This must be the coat of arms of Christoph Blarer that the panel near the “corner stone” mentions.



I finish my walk at the Friedrich Oser monument above Biel-Benken with the hazy view of the Blauen. I think the citizens of Basel have done a good job acquiring Biel-Benken with the southwards facing slope that produces quite a good wine (I liked it).


The pond near the monument of Oser is covered with ice and the sun plays with the trees.


With many history lessons learned I return home to warm myself up – it WAS cold today, though the sun had made my heart jump.

I think I will return to Biel-Benken to search for more boundary stones, but perhaps I will wait for warmer weather…

After having taken our fotos of the sunset around the Georgy hut, we sleep well though being on 3200m. Thanks to our alarm clock, we wake up early enough to watch the dawn before seven am – looking to the west in the direction of St. Moritz and the Julier.


We are standing on the tiny helicopter landing spot just above the hut and around seven am, the sun rises in the east.


Claudio and his friend from Nepal serve an excellent breakfast. After having walked down some 900m, we look back to the Piz Languard.  The Piz is the triangular peak to the left. We say good-bye to the Georgy hut that lies just below that peak.


We take the chairlift down to Pontresina, then hop on to the bus to Maloja and settle in the Sport hotel. From here, we visit the Bithaberg lake, just half an hour away.


Autumn has just started shily with some first yellow leaves here at the Bitabergh lake.


I am convinced that an old knight will now emerge from this lake, because after having loved a noble lady he cannot find peace. However, neither our host nor “Dr. Google”  know any legends about this romantic lake.

On our third day in the Engadin, the weather has changed. In the drizzling rain, we walk along the Maloja lake to Isola and Sils Maria. This is a sailing boat that is waiting for better weather and some wind –   in the middle of a blue-greyish scenery.


It is waiting together with this red rowing boat.


The clouds hang over the lake – we are looking back to Maloja.


The lake is transparent and clean, another blue-grey variation.


Segantini has painted one of these peers that I now find in the mist.


The lake and clouds… do you see the small island in the middle? This is another blue-grey variation.


More water and clouds – two shades of greyish blue with one little duck.


Yes, it is lovely weather for ducks, but it is also lovely weather for some interesting fotos – not just sunshine, mountains and blue sky, but mono color variations. In a way I have been inspired by the black and white fotos of Guido Baselgia. In some of them I see nothing but grey, however my friend explains to me that there are different shades of grey. Hm, maybe you are right?

From Sils Maria we take the bus and train back to Basel. Some four hours later we are back at home. We have spent three wonderful days taking fotos and walking – and my muscles tell me clearly: “You have walked down some 1000m, we have not enjoyed that at all and we make you feel it!”



Engadin – looking for the sunrise on 3200m – and then for blue-greyish clouds