Rhine River Float through Basel
Coming to the city of Basel in Switzerland, you can expect a lot of history, museums, and Swiss culture. Something you might not anticipate is the image of hundreds of locals, young and old, floating down the city’s river. Being split in two by the Rhine River, Basel has numerous bridges attaching its two halves. The Rhine is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe. As tourists make their way across the bustling bridges, they peer curiously down into the water below. Large orange devices speed down through the river’s current. Upon further inspection, you realize that clinging to these bright orange-colored sacks are the bobbing heads of Basel residents calling out and giggling with their friends. Hearing the cheerful laughter of the Swiss below, travelers can’t help but wonder why these strangers are calmly floating in the middle of an industrial city’s river.
Swimming in the Rhine is a wonderful experience that many locals take advantage of each year. Stuffing their clothes into a waterproof sack, they make their way down the slippery stone stairs located all along the river’s edge. From the stairs they carefully venture out into the cool river water. The chilly water is refreshing after walking in the hot sun. The current is fast and pulls you effortlessly along as you witness an unparalleled view of the city’s tall churches and impressive industry. Along the banks of the river, brightly-colored houses are crammed against one another, competing for every bit of available space. Most people are intrigued to share the water with the huge barges that blow their booming horn as you float on by. The strong smell of the barges’ fuels waft up as they pass carrying shipments of metal, machinery, and grain. You drift swiftly under the Mittlere Bridge’s stone cold walls, built originally in the thirteenth century, as you wave to astonished tourists gazing down from above.
Several kilometers later, you must swim hard to the shore, kicking your feet against the river’s unaccommodating current. It’s a challenge and you’ll feel relieved once you are able to put your feet down on the rocky edge and climb ashore. The cool sensation of the river water lasts for only a brief moment before the heat of the day on your skin leaves you ready for another round.
You then have the option of basking in the sun or meandering your way back upstream to go again. On your way, you’ll pass numerous cafes and restaurants flaunting the mouthwatering scent of Swiss cuisine. The popular smells of schnitzel and bratwurst, along with other grilled meats, will surely get your mouth watering. Families will often take a break from their swimming excursion to sit on one of the many benches that line the river and enjoy a snack. Any visitor coming to Switzerland should sample the notoriously spicy Swiss meats. If you’re looking for a meal without meat, you could try a famous cheese dish, such as fondue or raclette. These incredible dishes of melted cheese served with bread or potatoes will leave you wanting more.
Whether you choose to watch or join in on the river fun, Basel is a fantastic city for any traveler. Being a smaller city of under 200,000 inhabitants, it is not often explored by tourists which makes it all the more unique. Just don’t forget to take a walk along the river, appreciating the sounds of drums and piccolo players performing in the open air. Guests will be carried away by the riverside’s joyful and peaceful atmosphere. And have a look for those floating orange sacks. You’ll surely get a kick out of the sight of so many people walking through the city in dripping wet bathing suits.
Kyla Partridge is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos were taken on a waterproof camera! Photos courtesy and copyright Kyla Partridge