Monday, 23 June 2008


A hard word to translate. Literally, it means 'state of emergency', but in the context of what happened on Basel's streets on Saturday, "the whole town went mental" would be a more accurate translation.

And indeed, Basel was well and truly in Ausnahmezustand.

With the Netherlands playing Russia in the quarter-finals later that day at the 'Joggeli', thousands of Dutch (180,000 was the 'official' estimate) had descended on Basel. Perry from Heidelberg, who was also at the Spargelmarkt earlier this month, came down to sample the atmosphere with me. It was one heck of a day. Now, Fasnacht is one thing, but what I witnessed on Saturday reminded me more of the Love Parade. The mayhem began when we travelled into town shortly before 4 p.m., as our bus was packed with Oranje fans. This was no surprise, since Perry had reported that the Dutch were getting on the train at all the minor stops from Freiburg onwards while he was on the regional train to Weil.

Shortly after reaching Claraplatz, we realised the enormity of what was happening. Ahead of us was a sea of orange, winding its way over the bridge and into Grossbasel. We therefore decided to veer left along Rhygasse in the direction of the Wettstein Bridge. However, we then changed our plan and stopped off at the Fischerstube, where we enjoyed a beer and some food and observed the raucous chanting of our Dutch friends. From there, we headed down to the Rhine and took the ferry across to the Münster. I'd never ever gone across the river like this, so it was a novelty for me, too.

We had another beer on the promontory behind the Münster and then walked down to Marktplatz, and then eventually to Barfüsserplatz via the old town. During this trek, we got the distinct impression that the Dutch numbers were being swelled by pseudo-Oranje Swiss who had jumped on the bandwagon.

After yet another beer, we walked back to the Gare du Nord at the German station, which is where we watched the match (with Karl-Heinz as well). Pity Holland lost, but Russia were the better side.

Anyway, in this case, I think the images here speaks louder than the words.

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