Half off!

Swiss Hotels
Two words that make my heart go pitter-patter. It takes just one train trip to discover the benefits of the Swiss Railway’s half fare card, but did you know there is now a half-fare card for hotels, too? Neither did I!

At HotelCard.com they are boasting half-off a good selection of hotels in “German-speaking Europe”. I haven’t used the service yet (like the Swiss railway card, there is an annual fee for the card), but a friend who investigated it felt it would take a few trips to make it worthwhile. Still, with the cost of a Swiss hotel practically equal to some countries’ GDP, it may be worth further investigation.

Screen Play

YD screen door

There is a lot to love about summer in Basel. Daylight until 11pm. Dining al fresco. Incredible fresh fruit at the Farmer's Market. Long walks along the river.

But if there's one thing that has always bugged me, it's.... well, BUGS. Despite being a nation of highly practical and inventive people, the Swiss (in fact all of Europe) has a blind spot when it comes to screen doors and windows. The result is an alarming collection of mosquito bites that can make one - ok, ME - look like I am suffering from a scabies outbreak.

So, I was particularly thrilled when a friend invited me to her place to show off the fancy new screen door and windows she and her husband had installed. Not only is the screen door completely subtle, it closes with a magnetic seal (aka anti-bug force field)! No annoying flapping open in a strong Swiss breeze or gaping just enough to let a family of hungry gnats. I think I actually swooned. The window screens were equally nice - very unobtrusive and sealed tight as a submarine hatch. To vacuum seal your own abode, reach out to these fine folks (or check them out at next year's MUBA):

A. Andrea Bargain

G&H Insektenschutzgitter GmbH
Rheinfelderstr. 21a
4127 Birsfelden

Insektophon 0848 800 688
Insektofax 061 373 29 06

www.g-h.ch http://www.g-h.ch/

Now such fine craftsmanship comes at a pretty penny in Switzerland. If your budget's a little more on the klein side, you can also try the build-your-own models by Tesa (www.tesa.com) available at OBI and M Parc that include English instructions. However, my (now) well-screened in friends assured me that these are a bit tricky to put together and also didn't fit their windows using the "click in" system described on the box. They had to duct tape them - but least they're bug free!

Truck stop pizza

Piadina-Bar Margherita Pizza Basel
Piadina-Bar Margherita Pizza Basel

When I first moved to Basel, going for good pizza meant a road trip. Six hours to be exact. Just over the border in Italy in a tiny town outside of Bologna we would hit what we affectionately called the "truck stop." This unassuming cement block building featured a few misplaced plants, dull ceramic floors, a beaded curtain to the kitchen, Turkish toilets and, quite possibly the best pizza outside of Naples.

Lucky for me, now Piadina-Bar Margherita on Steinenvorstadt, offers a similar experience much closer to home - and without the thigh muscle-burning bathroom experience.

Brought to us by the same kind people that own Piadina, the place has a simple, non-fussy atmosphere.

A namesake pizza with burrata and arugula has a crispy, delicious crust and just enough fresh tomato sauce to keep things zingy. Grab a nice glass of white from their decent wine list, close your eyes and you could be south of the border - its the truck stop revisited

Restaurant Piadina-Bar Margherita
Steinenvorstadt 60
CH-4051 Basel
+41 61 2712605