Morges Tulip Festival

Every year since 1971, the Lake Geneva Horticultural Society puts on The Tulip Festival from mid-April to mid-May in Morges, Switzerland.  It lasts six weeks and presents 150,000 tulips of 250 varieties in every available size, shape and color.  Last year, we walked the lakeside, checked out the tulips and stopped for lunch (they have a tent with decent food lakeside).

Lots of places have Tulip Festivals including: Netherland’s Keukenhof Gardens, Holland (in Michigan), Ottawa, Kashmir, the Skagit ValleyIstanbulAmsterdam, and Perth Morges is a cute town with a beautiful lakeside.  All the flowers make the already beautiful lakeside park feel it festive.

The festival appears to be a group effort.  The city of Morges and the regional tourism office assist the Lake Geneva Horticultural Society.  Apprentice gardeners assist the city workers and volunteers with the planting.  Cities as diverse as Istanbul and Yverdon-les-Bains have donated bulbs.

By the way, Morges is known for its connection to Audrey Hepburn.  She lived for years in the nearby town of Tolochenaz, where she is buried.

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Duomo’s Rooftop, A Sculpture Garden In The Sky

My favorite part about visiting the Duomo was the rooftop.  I’ve been to cathedral’s (like Strasbourg) where you can visit the bell tower, but I don’t know of any where you can visit the roof.  The Duomo’s is filled with statues (there are over 135 spires and 10x more statues), making the rooftop a sort of sculpture gallery with a stellar view of the city.

We always try to take the stairs, so we bought a ticket for the stairs instead of the elevator.  On a 35-degree day, it was an economically good, but exceptionally hot choice.  With views like these, who cares?

I brought my big lens with me and had a blast playing with it.

All of the statues are different.  Many of the ones that depict martyred saints were a bit gory.

The perspective was fascinating.   It was like walking through a forest of spires and statues.  I don’t like open heights, but there was no way I was missing this!

Gnome Sweet Gnome, We’re Living In The Land Of Gnomes

Gnome lawn ornaments are considered a bit kitschy in the US.  In Switzerland, garden gnomes are everywhere.  Known as “Zwergli” in German, they seem practically mandatory.  I’m exaggerating, but only just a bit.

Plastic or cement, big or little, these  have seen these gnome statues come in all shapes and sizes.    They are usually in yards or gardens, but we have also seen them on porches, railings, stoops, on stumps and even on pedestals.

We see them out all year long.   It’s a wonder that they don’t disappear.  It’s Switzerland, so there isn’t too much crime, but they look tempting.  Wouldn’t it be so much fun to take the gnome and photograph it in crazy places just like in the movie Amalie.   In 2000, the International Association for the Protection of Garden Gnomes was founded in Switzerland (GGLF) was formed in Switzerland to combat gnome kidnapping and try to make it a criminal offense.  Apparently, a few people have even been prosecuted for theft.  I’m not kidding.

Plotting a breakout?

Instead of kidnapping them, The Garden Gnome Liberation Front advocates  freeing the gnomes.  If you don’t believe me, just check out http://www.freethegnomes.com.  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

It would be great to dress them up in special outfits for different events, kind od like Mannekin Pis in Brussels.  Who doesn’t want to dress their gnome up in a team uniform for game day?  On second thought, the Garden Gnome Liberation Front might think it was exploiting them and protest.

The bankers who toil away in Zurich are also referred to as gnomes.

Switzerland has a trail with gnome trail markers in Gänsbrunnen.  Children who complete it receive a very child receives a “Nature and Gnomes Certificate.”  Do big children count?

I’m pretty sure this guy escaped from a Travelocity commercial. He wants to roam.

Spring Is Our Yellow Period

When Magglio was here, he was intrigued by huge yellow fields of flowering plants that, from a distance, looked like Canola.  We asked the proprietor of a cafe what they were.  He told us that they had two names.  In France, they are known as “pissenlit,” which translates to “pissing the bed” (and is also another term for dandelion).   In Switzerland, they are known as “dents de lion,”  which translates to “lion’s teeth.”  He showed us a salad of  the greens.  Apparently you can only eat the plant’s greens before they flower.   After they flower, they become too bitter.

We stopped at a field to investigate.  It was beautiful.  Knowing the name, we bought some at the market the next day and made our own.  Tasty.

The plants had just begun to flower and continued to do so.   I couldn’t understand why the fields would be filled with them if they weren’t for some other purpose.  They grew quickly.  On our hike last weekend, two weeks after Magglio’s visit, they were taller than me (not that it’s hard).

Curious, I did a bit of research and determined that they are Colza (Brassica rapa), a type of rapeseed.  I’d never heard of it before.  Looking up translations, it translates to…Colza.  So much for that.

Apparently, Colza oil is big in Europe.  They extract the oil for both industrial applications and food.  Historically, it was used to light streetlights before electric lighting, to light lighthouses, and in lamps in the place of whale oil.  It is also used to calm choppy seas and even as biodiesel.  They use the cake after the extraction as feed for pigs.  Us?  We just like the flowering fields.