Out of Town

Swans on Lake Geneva looking south from Lausanne.

Swans on Lake Geneva looking south from Lausanne.

One of the reasons we are taking this extended trip is to be able to take side trips to places that interest us, but never make into a week or two’s visit. In March we made two trips out of Lyon, one to Lausanne Switzerland and one to Marrakech.

Quick! What country is Marrakech in? Where is it? What do you know about it beyond the old Crosby, Stills and Nash song?

Storks nesting on ruined palace walls in Marrakech.

Storks nesting on ruined palace walls in Marrakech.

First, while you’re thinking about that, Lausanne was a visit made especially wonderful because we traveled with Tess and Ken, who had speaking and meeting engagements at two of the universities there. (Lucky them, getting to write off the trip.) Lausanne is EXPENSIVE! About twice the price for everything compared with Lyon. Even so, we took lovely walks along Lake Geneva admiring swans and the snow draped Alps, wandered through the steeply terraced vineyards between Lausanne and Montreux, visited an ancient castle and, most interesting, went to the Art Brut art museum and to CERN.

Art Brut was named and founded by artist Jean Dubuffet and includes paintings, sculptures and textile works “produced by self-taught creators firmly entrenched outside the mainstream, harboring a rebellious spirit and impervious to collective norms and values. These include psychiatric hospital patients, prisoners, eccentrics, loners and outcasts.” In other words, if you ever took an art class, you can’t have your work in this museum. It was fascinating. Lots of wildly imaginative works rendered in obsessive detail. No photography was allowed.

CERN, in suburban Geneva, is of course the home of the Large Hadron Collider. (I also wanted to visit the home of the ill-fated League of Nations in Geneva, but we didn’t have time.) Our tour was led by an engineer who could answer some, but not all, of our group’s questions. CERN is not a new facility or project, but has been around since 1954. It’s a collection of particle accelerators (which accelerate protons to nearly the speed of light) and incredibly sensitive and fast detectors that record the results of the collisions of those speeding protons and their debris. That data is then made available to scientists around the world. CERN is a data producer; they are not designers of the hypotheses or data analyzers (beyond the analysis needed to guarantee the accuracy of their data).

The building housing the control room over the giant Atlas particle accelerator at CERN.

The building housing the control room over the giant Atlas particle accelerator at CERN. Alps in background.

One piece of the tour included the question: why do we do this when there are so many more humanitarian and urgent issues? Their answer:

quote from CERN

 

OK, on to sunnier climes. Or should I say Sunni—which Morocco is. But not initially an Arab country—Morocco’s history goes back to Paleolithic times, and their native peoples are Berbers. Arabs arrived later; Berbers are still a strong group, centering in the mountainous interior. (Their DNA is related to the Saami peoples of northern Finland and Norway). Thousand year old Marrakech, known as the Red City for the color of its walls and buildings, is about an hour away from the Atlas Mountains—we spent a day on the slopes of the Atlas mountains, walking among several Berber villages.

Laundry on roof of Berber village about 3000 feet up in Atlas foothills.

Laundry on roof of Berber village about 3000 feet up in Atlas foothills.

 

 

France took over Morocco in 1912 and held it until 1956. Most Moroccans speak Arab, Berber, French and some English. One odd thing the French did was make Mosques off-limits to non-Muslims. So while non-Muslims can visit mosques in Egypt or Turkey or Jordan, they cannot do so in Morocco.

Berber village weekly market.

Berber village weekly market.

Here are some photos of Marrakech. There really are snake charmers in the city square!

Snakes and their handlers (or is it the other way around?) in Marrakech's main square.

Snakes and their handlers (or is it the other way around?) in Marrakech’s main square.

And acrobats and story tellers and palm readers, all among the vegetable sellers and silversmiths and leather workers and textile shops. The crowds are endless; donkeys are a common means of travel, being slowly edged out by dangerously speedy motorcycles. Much work is being done to repair the crumbling palaces and gardens. It felt wrong that they let us walk on their beautiful ancient tiled floors; I felt guilty that we were wearing down their heritage…

Tile work in corner of Marrakech house, now a museum.

Tile work in corner of Marrakech house, now a museum.

Marrakech near sunset from our riad rooftop.

Marrakech near sunset from our riad rooftop.

Lyon Speaks For Itself

     Interim photos on two topics: 1) Lyon’s wonderful tradition of frescoes and murals on large and small building walls; and 2) Political posters around town (hint: les Lyonnais are not focused on Drumph). Also, can’t not have a photo of food.

Three little Lyonnaise kids eating their croissants on a lovely Saturday morning. The French are proud of their relatively high (for white Europeans) birth rate and the city is full of kids and families.

Three little Lyonnais kids eating their croissants on a lovely Saturday morning in a small plaza in the middle of the city. The French are proud of their relatively high (for white Europeans) birth rate and the city is full of kids and families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murals and Frescoes

There are so many of these–big, small, painterly, more graffiti-like, funny, lovely. It’s a treat to walk around the discover them.

There are many like this too--this one is a window into a person's brain.

There are many like this–this one is a window into a person’s brain.

 

Part of much larger mural, this bit is a bookstore window.

Part of much larger mural on a 10 story building, this bit is a bookstore window. Not related to the one below.

 

This one is near our apartment. What's painted and what's real?

This one is near our apartment. What’s painted and what’s real?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many more, but enough for now.

Political Posters

I think I’ve posted a few of these already, but here’s three more: one on European politics, one on women’s rights and one on the refugees.

Here's a good one about the effect of the austerity measures on "solving" Europe's problems.

Here’s a good one about the effect of the austerity measures on “solving” Europe’s problems.

March 8 is International Women's Day. Much of the world celebrates it, but I don't the US.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. This poster is on those 3-way ad displays you see at bus stops. Much of the world celebrates International Women’s Day, but I don’t think the US.

This one is about opening the borders for the refugees. I like the image of the scissors and the victory sign cutting the barbed wire.

This one is about opening the borders for the refugees. I like the image of the scissors and the victory sign cutting the barbed wire.