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[Obvious] Travel Tip: Check the Map

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: 

Photo by wbayercom/Flickr

Photo by wbayercom/Flickr

The south bank takes you to that peninsula, where you get the stench of the Arve and this view: 


Still cool, but not as good. 

Still cool, but not as good. 

Check the map, people Linda.

Just Exploring the Tinguely Museum

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.


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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. 

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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. 

Friday Photos - Swiss Cows

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)?