I think I’ve mentioned before my deep dislike for Basel in Switzerland. It hosts the toll-grabbing frontier tax police who just want their 40SFr from you to use their crappy motorways and don’t seem in the least concerned about what you might be carrying into or though their country (like illegal aliens). Apart from some historic buildings overlooking the river Rhine in the old part of town it’s an ugly city full of industry and grey drab architecture. The road system was completely choked and hopeless until relatively recently. Now it’s just unpleasant.
We once tried to stop the night there. I pulled up at this old hotel overlooking the river, popped into reception and asked the Swiss bitch on the desk about room availability. You’d think i’d just pooped in my pants from the look on her prison guard face. Didn’t I know, she enquired in a superior tone, that ArtBasel was taking place and that every room in the City had been fully booked for months. Well I didn’t as it happened but I thanked Heidi Glum for her uberhelpfulness and drove off to spend the night anywhere else. We stopped in C Switzerland in a pretty village overlooking one of the lakes. The staff were friendlier (just) but it cost a fortune although it was so very basic and the local wine tasted like Listerine mouthwash, except not as good.
Well we’ve vowed never to stop in Basel ever again except to pay the road tax poll of course. In fact we won’t stop in Shitzerland period now. Love the scenery but you can keep the attitude, manners, prices, constant lane closures for road repairs, lack of work actually being done to repair the roads, etc. We once were headed for the St Gottard tunnel through the Alps. About 10 kms before reaching it (ie when we’re almost there) we saw an overhead sign in German which we thought said tunnel closed. We stopped at a service are to check and sure enough the bloody tunnel was closed. It fact it had been for many weeks because of a fire and was under repair. Could they have told us about it at say the Basel border? – oh no, too busy collecting 40SFrs. Our detour through the St Bernard tunnel cost us 6 hours and a lot of petrol and tunnel fees.
So you may have guessed that views apart we don’t much enjoy tanking through the cantons. Where’s this rant heading you might ask? Well as the only English language station on Italian TV we do watch a fair bit of BBC World the 24 hour news service. From a recent posting you might recall it stands out from its Italian sister stations by steadfastedly refusing to use attractiveness as a recruitment criterion for its female presenters. Anyway you might find this odd but BBC World is the official international TV partner to an event called BaselWorld 2008, one of the world’s big watch/jewellery shows. And on a very regular basis during BBC World’s programming we have been ‘entertained’ by the official video promoting the event. It’s an absolute stinker but I cannot find it anywhere on the net to show you. Trust me it must have been compiled by the Swiss equivalent of the ad agency who gave us the Ferrero Rocher Ambassador ads. It’s just a series of rather grey stiff (and oddly one flamboyant) guys who head up these fabulous watch companies talking in droning German about ‘zer place is just zo exciting’ and ‘zer excitement has been building in Basel for veeks now’ and ‘zer whole of the vatch-industry vill be here in Basel’ and so on.
The event ran from 3-10 April so I guess you’ve missed it if you were getting excited at the prospect of being there with Herr Heuer et al. Mercifully the ads have now relented too. But I came across some publicity material quite unexpectedly today from the Swiss Bureau of Information or something. As you’d expect it is presented with the usual Swiss impish sense of fun. So we learn that ‘hotel rooms in Basel have been sold out for over a year’. Ah no change there then. (Cue to self, when you win the lottery build a hotel in Basel – they’ve probably only got 34 bedrooms in the whole place). Also you may wish to know that the show features ‘353 watch brands and some 458 jewellery companies of which 21.9% are Swiss’… Really, 21.9% eh? They couldn’t have made it 22% could they – like we’d have known it to be inaccurate. They are so precise, hence – ‘Swiss companies at BaselWorld will occupy 53,900 sq metres of exhibition space – 46.4% of the total area’.
Sounds like an awful lot of cuckoo clocks. I think you can William Tell that I won’t be there.