Saturday, May 26, 2018

Who Rides a Bicycle Into a Lake?

Were they drunk? Was it a prank gone bad? (Sorry, dude, I didn't realize it was so deep.)(Or ... Désolé, mec, je ne me suis pas rendu compte que c'était si profond.)

The bicycle was perhaps the most interesting discovery from the bottom of Lac Leman, as 1,200 volunteers (including me) did a "Grand Nettoyage" cleanup effort. It takes place every two years at locations all around the huge lake.

As I was walking along the shoreline, which is  reinforced with huge stones, picking up the detritus of piggish,  inconsiderate people, I wondered - are the bad people of the world balanced out by the good people? Probably not. Tomorrow, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and sandwich wrappers will likely be back.

There were 40 of us at the Colony Tour-Carrée spot, which is opposite what D-L and I have taken to calling the "ghost barge."
The early morning looked ominous. A thunder and lightning storm over the Jura appeared headed right for us. And a large body of water is not the best place to be when lightning bolts are crackling. But the storm shifted to the west, and we ended up with only a few sprinkles here and there.
The stars of the effort were the plongeurs, the scuba divers, who scoured the bottom of the lake, bringing up the bike, a pile of glass bottles and plastic, and assorted other metals. I was surprised how many of the divers were young women.
We were all given bright yellow-green safety vests so cars and cyclists wouldn't run us over, or perhaps so they'd see us better if we fell off the rocks into the water. And, if we wanted, a "grabber" tool - which went a long way to saving my back from constantly bending over.

I chose to work in Group 4 along the Quai de Cologny, from the rather unpretentious Yacht Club de Genève to Genève-Plage. I opted to search for poubelle on the lake-side of the retaining wall, where the rocks were slippery at times, but it was the best way to reach anything that had been tossed over the wall.
This is a photo of my bucket filled the first time. After they emptied the contents into a wheelbarrow, I nearly filled it a second time as well.

I picked up:
* Beer bottles and cans, as well as bottle tops
* A corkscrew / bottle opener
* Energy drink can
* Pieces of glass
* A rod which might anchor a boat to the rocks
* Food wrappers, yoghurt cups, plastic bottles
* Pieces of a balloon
* Ribbons
* A toilet-paper holder type wire
* The emblem from a Fiat 500 series hubcap
* A small pile of coins - a 2-euro, 1-euro, two 10-centime euros, a 10-centime Swiss franc, and a 5-centime franc (perhaps a frontalier with a hole in their pocket?)
* A chicken bone
* Cigarette cartons
* And perhaps 200-300 cigarette butts
I am amazed at the inability of people to toss something in a garbage can which is no more than two feet from a bench. The majority of butts I picked up - with the grabber - were lying around the permanent wastebaskets along the quai.

Once in awhile, I paused to enjoy the views: the cruise ships that carry tourists up and down the lake, skiers, paddlesurfers, cyclists, joggers, airplanes landing across the way, the Jet d'Eau ...
Communication was in Franglais. Did what I could in French, but often when folks hear my accent they switch to English.

By the way, there was less trash in and alongside the lake than I would have expected. And, as we have repeatedly observed, Lac Leman (aka Lake Geneva) is one of the cleanest lakes I have ever seen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hog Heaven

Fat and Happy
This is a dueling blog - see Donna-Lane's view at http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.fr/2018/05/pigs.html.

There were piggy banks. Thousands of them. Stuffed toy pigs (a pyramid of). Pig figurines. Pig art. Pig advertising. Pig porn (makin' bacon). Flying pigs. In all, about 48,000 piggy thingys.

We had our choice of museums in Stuttgart: natural history, modern art, Porsche or Mercedes-Benz, a Zeiss planetarium (where we stopped for directions). We choose the uber-kitschy Schweinemuseum (https://www.stuttgart-tourist.de/en/a-pig-museum).


You might call it the third in our offbeat museum slumming, after the sex museum in Prague and the prostitution museum in Amsterdam.

Cuddle piggies
The concept of all things pig was conceived 30 years ago by passionate collector Erika Wilhelmer, whose orange hair we spotted in an anteroom when we paid our 5,90 Euros entrance fee. As the collection grew, it found a home in - irony - an old slaughterhouse, and is now the world's largest pig museum (there are others in Linn, Missouri, population 1459 - but they do have a golf course nearby; another near Seoul, Korea, complete with live, hurdle-jumping oinksters, costs extra to see sausage-making; and a Bay of Pigs museum in Miami, but I don't think that's quite the same topic).

Yes, there's a restaurant at the museum, and yes, they serve all manner of pork. We had desserts.

World's Largest Piggy Bank?
Getting there was half the adventure. Googlemaps recommended we take the U-Bahn train from the Staatsgalerie station near our hotel to the Schlachthof station, then a short walk to the museum. The Staatsgalerie was supposed to be near the planetarium; however, they've ripped the former park area apart for a construction project. So we turned around at the planetarium, tried to detour around it, and were advised to just go back to the Hauptbahnhof main station.
Once-beautiful park is gone
Having established a pattern, we are now searching for more oddball museums to visit (preferably in Europe). Suggestions?
In the restaurant, be sure to look up