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The Rhône and Arve rivers join just east of downtown Geneva. Before the Rhône's green water swirls in completely with the Arve's brown, the two rivers seem to resist each other, almost forming a line -- green on one side, murky tan on the other (after looking at lots of pictures, I think there's actually a low wall that intensifies the effect).
The first time I saw the confluence, I was on the bridge that spans the rivers just above the junction. I had a perfect view of the rivers meeting and the V of land that ends their separation. The colors stopped me that day, and when I returned to Geneva last month with my husband, I wanted to show him this spot.
I'm good with directions and can usually find my way back to places I've been once without too much help from Google. So I led my husband down the banks of the Rhône, reassured by signs warning us against swimming (the icy Arve waters were just around the corner!).
I got us to the confluence, but if you ever go yourself, make sure you're on the right side of the river. A quick Google map check would have reminded me to walk down the north bank of the Rhône, where you can access the bridge that provides this lovely view:
The south bank takes you to that peninsula, where you get the stench of the Arve and this view:
Hike. Visit family. Drink Rivella and eat sausage on mountains. These are the things I usually do in Switzerland. Visiting museums is not a top priority on Swiss trips, but I would visit Basel's Tinguely Museum every time.
Jean Tinguely was a Swiss sculptor best known for his kinetic sculptures. He collaborated with his second wife, Niki de Sainte Phalle, on the Stravinksy Fountain next to the Pompidou Center in Paris. He's got a piece, Chaos I, in Columbus, Indiana. Basel has his Faschnachts-Brunnen (literally, Carnival Fountain, but apparently it also goes by just "the Tinguely fountain") -- and the museum.
I love a good interactive museum. The City Museum in St. Louis is less of a museum and more of a dangerous playground, but the Tinguely reminds me of it. In the main hall, you can climb stairs up and through a two-story conglomeration of steel, giant wheels, ladders, a carousel horse, fake geraniums in a window box, and an upside-down garden gnome dipped in and out of a vat of water.
Another garden gnome
Stamping on large buttons placed on the floor in front of the sculptures sets them into motion.To preserve the sculptures, timers monitor how frequently button-pushing activates them, so sometimes you push and nothing happens. You move on. Then the next guy comes along, and the sculpture's clanking scares you into scurrying back to catch it in action.
This one makes music
The Tinguely is also home to one of the more terrifying sculptures I've seen. Tinguely used the remains of a burned-down farm house to build Mengele-Totentanz. It is like a nightmare you're shocked your brain would give you. With time, this room's shadows, chains, and skulls fade to a creepy memory, pushed aside in favor of the museum's big, clangy, fun pieces. I thought maybe it was a temporary installation, but no, it's always there, waiting for my next visit. And despite the creepiness, I'll always be open to another visit.
I went out with a #FriFotos post, so it feels appropriate to return with one.
As a Swiss-American lucky enough to spend a week in the mountains every few summers, "peaks" means the Swiss Alps, specifically the Bernese Oberland. But while I know the names of a few famous peaks ( Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau) I still can't identify them. Multiple searches finally confirmed that this is the Wetterhorn with the Rosenlaui Glacier to the left.
I took this picture on a hike with my mother. We started in Meiringen, a town in the valley and hiked up to Grosse Scheidegg, past the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes fought Professor Moriarty to the death. My mom has difficulty hiking uphill, and I have problems going downhill. I feel slightly guilty for dragging a 60-something woman 10 miles uphill, but I bought her an ice cream at the top.
Ok, I know. I'm the worst. I wanted the ice cream more than she did.
About two years ago, my brother, dad and I hiked from Stechelberg, in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, to the peak of the Schilthorn, a 2000 meter hike. You start in the valley, immediately begin climbing, and six to eight hours later, you arrive at the summit, where you can take the cable car back to Stechelberg and catch the bus home.
The hike begins below the treeline, plateaus briefly in alpen meadows where grazing cows provide distraction (and sometimes obstacles), and then you start clambering over large boulders until you reach this path through shale. Depending on how many breaks you need, there’s only about an hour of hiking left from this point (there’s more boulder clambering, and a stretch of path where you can look over the edge into the other valley and imagine yourself falling, if not to your death, then at least to your serious injury. Better to just look ahead).
My brother and I have conquered this mountain twice. I plan to do it at least once more, knees permitting.
Happy Friday. May bad knees not get in the way of any weekend plans.
This blog is very quickly becoming a Friday photo blog, but we’re at three business days until unemployment and I hope for at least one update a week to break up the “Friday photo, Friday photo, Friday photo” pattern.
Today, I give you Swiss cows.
Matador editor Carlo Alcos (@vagab0nderz on Twitter) asked about favorite sounds while traveling. Mine? Cow bells in the Alps. That sound reminds me of summer, hiking, sausage cooking over open fire (while I eat a cheese sandwich), Alpine wildflowers, cold, blue-green lakes and parasailers gliding high above valleys.
Happy weekend — I’m going to a bourbon distillery. Anyone else got good plans (like going to Costa Rica for the weekend)?