Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chocoholics or Just Lucky?

In my opinion, we are very lucky to live in the land of chocolate abundance. And even luckier that we get to take advantage of this sweet Swiss cultural phenomenon of visiting chocolate factories periodically.

(We don't have a problem, really. 😋)

Recently we visited our fifth chocolate factory, and I can honestly say, eating Swiss chocolate and seeing how it is made never gets old. Each visit gets me more in touch with my sweet side. (And a little nuttier each time.)

Jazz hands!





















(For the record, there is an adorable picture of Maureen in her own chocolate costumed glory, but she forbade me to include it. Maybe you can coerce her yourself...)

This time we went to the Frey chocolate factory in Buchs, about an hour by train/bus from our house. One of the specialties of this chocolate factory is their line of Easter chocolates.
Somebunny looks shocked!






















The thing that set this chocolate factory apart from some of the other ones we've visited was the "Virtual Tour Guides".







































We wore headsets and scanned a QR code at various screens throughout the factory. You set the language at the onset so you could understand your "guide". It was a nice way to self pace your way through the chocolate making journey of this particular brand.

The tour culminates in a tasting room, where you can sample as many Frey Chocolates as you want. Let's just say Joe got his money's worth.

Complete with a chocolate fountain.

All around it was another good day to live in the land of chocolate. I even wore my "tasty" shirt for our tour.

Me and my bunny buddy.














And we ended up with a few bars to bring to the US for gifts - this is one of the most affordable factories and Swiss chocolates yet!
A tasty collection.













When you come to visit us here in Switzerland, we'll take you on your own chocolate journey - pick your factory. You can even borrow my shirt. :)

Today's poem is actually a throwback to one I wrote last year. Sometimes I get it poetically right the first time - why mess with what still rings true?

In Switzerland,
chocolate is brown gold.
Putting it in our faces,
never gets old.
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Feast or Famine

Depends on the month.

Late summer is traditionally the time when people take time off of work to go on holiday. It's easy if you work for a big company or a school which either have people still running the business or is closed for summer.

But what if you run a small local restaurant?

In Switzerland, you just close up your restaurant and go on holiday. We found this out when we tried to go to the little burrito joint in Zurich.




















And then a week later, walking by the burger joint by our house.

Translation: Summer holiday from 28.7.2019 until and with 18.8.2019 our company remains closed.














Could you imagine closing your business for several weeks? And then still being in business?

Well, actually restaurants being able to stay in business is a bit of a problem here in Switzerland. In recent years more pubs and restaurants have closed than ever before.




















Part of the blame is the strong franc, but closing your business for weeks at a time to go on holiday probably doesn't help either.

Today's poem is about that feeling of wanting to eat out, but finding the proprietor of the restaurant has the exact same idea!

holiday from cooking
for the cook
not the customer
©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Good News Alert! I am proud to announce that a few of my haiku 
have been chosen to be published in the print journal, 
seashores - an international journal to share the spirit of haiku. Woot!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sails Hoisted for Tolerance

Art reflects society - what's good about it, what's bad about it, and even what we hope for!

A local art installation, Ship of Tolerance, depicts what the world needs most: tolerance. The idea for this art had a global reach, but the local purpose was for it to be a symbol of openness and acceptance for the refugees living here in Zug. Even though this work of art was completed in 2016, it is just as relevant today in the world as a whole, if not MORE!



































The Ship of Tolerance is the brain child of Ilya and Emila Kabakov of New York by way of the former Soviet Union. The artist couple, in collaboration with Kunsthaus Zug (the local art museum), came up with the idea to create a participation art piece that allowed children the chance to experience tolerance and respect as they created this amazing symbol of tolerance. The 120 sail panels were painted by school children throughout Kanton Zug and are mounted on the 11 meter high mast.




















As you can see the sails look bright, fresh and colorful today. They swap out the sails regularly when they get weather beaten and tattered, which can happen quite easily on a lake shore in Switzerland.

A super cool aspect of the ship is that it glows at night.















It is a real wooden ship that is about 18 meters long, but it has never sailed on its own. Actually, back in 2016, when it was completed, it had to be "sailed" around Lake Zug on a raft. Now it lives in a lakeside beach park not far from our home where kids can climb, play, and tolerate each other.

On the platform there is this sign:
Translation: Enter at your own risk.





















A tolerant view of personal safety and personal responsibility, if you ask me.

Today's poem is an acrostic that is my hope for a more tolerant world.

Together we embrace
Others.
Love
Everyone
Regardless of differences.
Acceptance
Now
Can save the
Earth. 

©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Wrestle-Mania!

First of all, hello again from Switzerland! We are alive and well, but incredibly busy as of late, hence my blog post lag. Things should be settling out going forward and I plan to resume my regular blogging, with a surprise feature coming this fall. Stay tuned. 😀

Today's post about an epic 3-day event that happened here a few weekends ago.  Zug was lucky enough to host Switzerland's largest sporting event: Eidgenössische Schwing- and Älplerfest.

Basically, Eidgenössische Schwing it is the Olympics of Swiss Wrestling.  Every three years a village hosts the event and the people come in droves. Zug hasn't hosted since 1961, so having it this year was a BIG deal.

The location of the festivities was near where we lived in the corporate apartment. I ran through these fields last year:

Cornfield picture taken Summer 2018.












This year, for this event, the fields were transformed to look like this:

That's not corn growing out of the ground...

...that's a stadium!
Another  former cornfield.
Temporary buildings abound.

They actually built the world's largest temporary stadium (no joke) for this 3-day event. It held 56,500 lucky ticket-holding fans. We weren't among them. We actually watched on a Jumbo-tron in another temporary stadium set up outside the hockey arena (a kilometer or so away) of the local hockey team that I've mentioned on my blog before.

I'll explain the wrestling pants in a moment...
Thousands of people gathered to watch live-ish.

We even got to see some yodeling action.

Yodel-le-he-who!
Listen closely, you can almost hear them.

So what, you might be asking, is Swiss wrestling? Well, it all starts with the pants.

Photo courtesy of  ESAF Zug from this website.
















The wrestlers, men only, wear trousers with these shorts (diapers?)  made of jute worn over them. The objective is to lift your opponent off his feet and pin him on his back on the ground, all the while keeping a firm grip on his shorts. The winner is chosen by a three-person jury.

Grab, lift, and throw.
They even put the shorts on the directional signs!
The winner gets the title of Schwingerkönig (Wrestling King), leaf wreath "crown", and a bull. Yep, the animal.

This year's competition was an upset. The local favorite, 22-year-old Joel Wicki was beat in 40 seconds by a 34-year-old wrestler from Bern, Christian Stucki. At 34, Stucki is the oldest winner in history.

Photo courtesy of SwissInfo.ch











Maybe Wicki had too much pressure on him?
Here his likeness is being used to peddle shirts at a local grocery store.





















Incidentally, these shirts are Edelweiss shirts worn by the competitors and 80% of the Swiss population that weekend. At 80 CHF  a pop, that's a lot of national pride.

But, wrestling is not the only event that took place during that weekend. We also attended a Boulder Throwing competition. We watched guys throw 40kg boulders from a stand.

Here's the winner. He threw his boulder 4 meters 72cm from a standstill!


















And there was plenty of food and drink and people watching to keep you entertained as well.

Not a fan of Swiss food personally.
Surreal to see so many people in our old stomping grounds.

Yesterday, a few weeks after the event, this is what the stadium looks like now:
Halfway disassembled.
Again, we feel very fortunate to live here and get to participate in these amazing cultural experiences.

Today's poem is a tribute to "King" Stucki:
pull
      push
             lift
sawdust drift

flip
     grip
          drop
'king' on top 
©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.