Monday, April 13, 2009

The first barbecue of the season, yippee!

The first barbecue of the season took place last Saturday. We dusted the grill off and set it up in our garden. The tiny garden on Sergey's backyard is very nice at the moment; blazing red tulips are blossoming and new orangy fishes in even tinier fish pond are jumping lively. The fig tree is starting to push out leaves.

After a really summerlike hot day it was nice to chill out by the grill on the mellow and soft evening. Garden is so confined that the wind cannot really reach the area, so until quite late it was possible to hang out there wearing only t-shirt and jeans.

On the grill we put some beef entrecotes and lamb fillets in a tender selfmade marinade of various herbs. Alongside with spits of yellow bell-pepper, zucchini and mushroom. This amount seems to be enough for three persons, wouldn't you say? ;D

And what would be more logical choice to down it all with than the real and original finnish beer "Karhu"?! Yummy!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring and the miracle of growth

So, it's springtime again. In Basel it's been very summerlike for couple of days now. So cool, today +25'C and clear blue sky.

For couple of years now I've planned, every spring, to plant something, but somehow I've never managed to get it done in time. This year I decided to pull myself together and have it finally done. Therefore, last Sunday I put some seeds to pots and set myself waiting for the miracle of growth.

And now, only five days later, I can already see some results: the Rucola salad is pushing little, frail green babies out of the dirt, yeeeah! I'm waiting with curiosity what will come up next: parsley, basil, chives or garlic-chives =)

Our roof.

My pots.

Baby-Rucolas =)

I find it fascinating to observe the development in the pots. I'm still going to plant some flowers, just for the fun of it.

Joyful Eastertime to everybody!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I finally had the chance to see Nightwish live, thanks to my friend and colleaque Mikko. The band was playing in St. Jakobshalle for the audience of approximate 7000 people with Indica and Pain (Swe) as warming up acts.

So it seems, that I went to see a Finnish band again. Am I boring or just lacking imagination, go figure... But I enjoyed it nonetheless. Especially opening tunes of Finlandia (by Sibelius) with electric quitar, I find it somehow touching.

This was the first time I saw Nightwish with their (not-so-anymore) new lead singer Anette. To be honest, it's still entertaining and skillfull as ever, but -and this is just my humble opinion- they seem to have lost something that earlier made them unique. Nowadays it's more pop. Very nice evening in every dimension anyway. And the band does look amazing visually!

But hey, next time I promise to be more inventive in my choices of bands. You'll see!

Basler Fasnacht survival guide (sort of)

Okay, long time has passed since my last entry. Lots of things have also happened. I try to start with explaining what the phenomen called "Basler Fasnacht" is all about. Ive been planning to do this for a month now, but didn't have time. Well, it'll be here for the next year. And bear in mind, that this is just my point-of-view, nobody's allowed to execute me if I screwed up some historical facts etc.

Blaggedde, official pin of Fasnacht 2009.

The history of this three-day event goes long back. It is based on old military traditions and variety of guilds holding festivities and organizing parades whenever possible and not banned by government. The Fasnacht starts every year on the following Monday after Ash Wednesday and continues exactly 72 hours. It is considered to be one of the 5o most important local festivals in Europe. Basically Fasnacht is a open platform to state one's opinions and a big carnival that sets the old town (i.e between Mustermesse, Heuwaage, Aeschenplatz and Scifflände) of Basel in frenzy. All the basler seem to like this festival, so you can see a "Blaggedde", the official pin of the Fasnacht, on the collar of almost every passerby. And, rest assured, there will be somebody trying to sell you one, too.

Main components

"Morgenstraich" is the start of it all. At exactly 4:00am Monday morning all the lights in the old town go out and processions of "cliques" start to roam freely around. Cliques are groups of musicians who follow their "Vortrab" (vanguard) playing piccolo-flutes and basler-drums. These groups also have usually some sort of lantern-wagon with them that presents their "sujet", the topic or statement they want to make. The surroundings are mainly lit up by these wagons and other lanterns musician have installed on their hats or masks or carried on the tops of poles.

Sujets are mainly very political and critical toward the present day state of affairs concerning government. They are also very up-to-date, as this year one could spot out many comments on Barack Obama and UBS for example. Lanterns are very carefully made and beautiful. In general these cliques tend to take their business very seriously, music is practised the whole year and one has to really apply to be a part of a clique.

For more Morgenstraich-action and samples of the music, check out my last year's entry.

Some lanterns; Smurfs,



Loads of people come to observe the start-whistle of the event, so if you want to join, be prepared for traffic-jams on the boardwalks. One is also not advised to cross the streets cutting in the procession. So, patience is good quality here. It's also critical for one's well being to remember to dress up warmly, I've frozen my butt almost everytime no matter how much of onion-dressing, layer on top of layer, I tried to exercise. If you feel up to it, you can also dress up into a carnival costume of your choice and just go mingle with the people, there'll be a bunch.

Clique having a break.

As the event goes on for 72 h non-stop, it means that refreshments are also available for the duration. All the cliques have their home-bases somewhere in the city and the doors are open for more or less everybody. Meaning, that the musicians may have their restiricted area, but the rest of the club-space is turned into a public bar that is open virtually 24h a day. Many of the shops and private spaces open their doors also for these three days, since you don't need any specific permission to start up a bar for Fasnacht. I even had beers in a book shop where they just had hoisted some tables and benches in and put up a beer-tap on the cashier-counter. -I remenber thinking that I would have to come back the following week for one of the books I saw on display =)

There are two things that belong to the Basler Fasnacht. First of them is "Mehlsuppe", very simple and tasty brown soup made out of flour, butter and bouillon. One can also buy ready-made mix by Knorr, heat it up and serve it with grated cheese and bread.


The second necessity of culinary Fasnacht is "Zwiebelwähe", onion-pie. The best onion-pie one can find at Andreasplatz in the heart of old town Basel. Cafe is called simply "Bio Andreas". All the basler seem to know this, so prepare yourself for queuing up, but it will be well worth it.

Bio Andreas' Zwiebelwähe.

On the afternoons 13-18h in down town. Cortegé is procession with fixed route and timetable which is more organized than improvised action in the Morgenstraich. Processions are also larger in size, there will be bigger wagons, built on top a tractor etc and vanguards are humongous. Styles vary from traditional horse-pulled carriages to very modern installations. The paraders hand out their printed (or should we say, throw) sujets, candy, fruits etc. to the spectators. Tons of confetti is also spead around during this, so you have some serious dusting-off to do when going home =)


Fancy a sujet?

Traditional; Horsiies... jöö.


Futuristic approach

All the watching spots are either taken or restricted, heh.

Indoor action
Along all the parading and processions, there is variety of side-activity going on during Fasnacht. Numerous "Gugge-Konzäärt" take place onTuesday evening. Gugge-music is not really considered to be a part of original fasnacht theme by the real basler, but it's becoming more and more popular as time goes by. Where as the traditional Fasnacht music consists of flutes and drums, gugge music is more about big band-like brass stuff and more schlager. Rather swingy, I think. Entertaining at least. You can also hear gugge-groups on the streets among the other cliques.

Another phenomen you can bump into in a bar is "Schnitzelbängg". This can be one man band or a small group who performs couple of satirical songs making usually fun about the current events. To get anything out of it you need to master some essential Basel dialect or have a native with you to translate the punchlines. It's fun just the same, though.

Schnitzelbängg trubadour

So, here you have it, some details and highlights of this particular event. Hopefully this gives some insight to it all. In one sentence I could say: Basler Fasnacht is at least the whole years portion of flute and drum music in three days, but fun as such! C U there next year!

For advanced reading and the real facts =):
Official Fasnacht
Basler Fasnacht in Wikipedia
Cornerstones of Fasnacht History