Is it true that you have to be careful of pickpockets in Basel? It seems such a safe city!
Yes, Basel is a generally a very safe city. Unfortunately, pickpocketing has increased, especially during the many Messes (fairs) it hosts throughout the year. Herbstmesse, Weihnachtsmarkt, Fasnacht, and BaselWorld are perfect examples!
If you’re in a crowd, hold on to your purse. Carry long-strapped handbags across your chest. Smaller sized handbags that you can clutch under your arm are safer. Go for something that can be zipped shut — open purses are open invitations.
Wallets are easy to pick from your back pockets. Try keeping them in your front pocket. A rubber band tied around the wallet makes it more difficult to slide out. In a public place, don’t place your jacket on a clothes hook or around a chair without first taking out your wallet! It’s better not to take all your valuables and money with you. If possible, leave them in a safe at your hotel. If not, don’t keep all your money in the same place.
Watch out for pickpockets on crowded streets, restaurants, public transport, and train stations. Remember what your Mutti told you. Don’t talk to ‘needy’ strangers!
Above all, be alert! Know where you are going and what’s going on around you. Distracted or clueless people (especially those reading out of maps!) are easily spotted and make nice, easy targets. If you feel unsure about anything, go with your instincts. It’s better to be safe than polite!
How do you make Mehlsuppe? I hear you’re supposed to eat it for Morgestraich.
I don’t ever make Mehlsuppe — I can’t stand Mehlsuppe! But I can tell you how to make it, and it’s very popular for our Fasnacht festival. You can buy packets in all the grocery shops, like Coop and Migros; then just add water and when it boils, let it cook for about seven minutes. Add onions and cheese, like Gruyère or Appenzeller.
Or if you want make it from scratch, I found some links for you:
My Swiss friends tell me that I shouldn’t tip the waiter more than one or two francs. In the States, we generally tip about 20%. What should I tip here?
Dear Needing Help,
Your Swiss friends are right, you’re not expected to tip the waiter 20% since it’s all included in the service. If you want to be nice, you can leave a few francs. Tipping also depends on how long you’ve been sitting at your table, what you’ve consumed, if you’re happy with the service. If you’re not happy, don’t give anything! Once I didn’t like the service and so didn’t leave a tip at all. On the other hand, for a very good meal at a nice, popular restaurant, we paid 90 CHF and left a 4 CHF tip.
For a 64 CHF hairstyle, I usually tip CHF 7 – especially if I intend to keep going back to the stylist.
Taxis will let you know if there are any extra charges, or you can tip them CHF 2.
I only give money to street musicians who are students or have CDs. I never pay musicians on the tram. Actually, this is prohibited.
Also, don’t encourage beggars by giving them money.
At the Weihnachtsmarkt, Herbstmesse, or Flea Markets, don’t tip unless it was fantastic.
When visiting Flea Markets remember they expect you to bargain!
Don’t bargain in shops — except when buying a car!! That’s for another day…