Genève – City of Peace
We found our train trip to Geneva long, noisy and exhausting due to the fact that we were sharing our train ride with a small group of Italian primary school boys for five hours!!! We get kids will get excited and that is great, but the male teacher was so enthusiastically loud. We get that he was having some positive bonding time with his students (which is great) but as a passage we didn’t really need to listen to an hour of storytelling, but these young boys were highly engaged hooked on Sir’s story. The boys didn’t use Sir as we do, they called their teacher Mr. Maybe if we were able to have understood a little more Italian we would have been hooked too. On the other hand looking from an outsider, credit due to this vibrant positive teacher as he didn’t get a minute’s peace. Parents often say I don’t know how you do it! These kids were having the time of their lives.
Our Airbnb accommodation was a 10 minute walk from the station. Well chosen by Rob as it is situated next to a big park which has a community garden with chickens and views from the balcony on the surrounding mountains. It is a very quiet neighbourhood. Just not as modern as our Italian apartments. Some 70’s features and fittings were interesting.
Accommodation, food and public transport is very expensive. Aussie dollars don’t go far. For example, a coffee that costs $2.50 in Italy is $7.50 here!
After a good night sleep I put on my trusty wool crocs hiking boots, which I haven’t worn since our overseas trip 2 years ago and we set out to see the sights of Genève. The temperature outside was -1’C. On our walk through the park we stopped a hyperactive squirrel.
Genève is a very green city. Trams, buses and push bikes are the main form of transport which fill the streets. Our first job was to purchase a Swiss half Fare transport cards which cost us 120 Swiss Franks. ($180 Australian each). This will allow us to purchase any train, bus or boat rides for half price.
We walked 9 kilometres around the city. First we meandered through an antique trash and treasure market.
Then we wandered through the old town. Saint Pierre Cathedral was a highlight as we climbed up the narrow north and south bell tower stair wells to view the huge church bells and the best panoramic view of Genève!
The old timber floor boards were creaking under our weight! You would have expected after 3 weeks of eating Italian pizza, pasta and heavenly gelato that we would have gained kilos! But NO! to my excitement I still weigh less than when we left Sydney in December.
Lake Genève itself is stunningly vast. It is an emerald crystal clear lake that is fed by the French Alps and the Rhine river. Stunningly beautiful, especially with all its snow white swans that glide along with the swift river currents.
The Jet d’Eau fireworks into the air like an enormous geyser to the height of 140 meters, with water velocity of 200 kilometres per hour, pumping 500 litres of water per second into the sky.
Back in the 1800’s Genève was using hydroelectricity. They used the water from the lake to power the machines used to make chocolate and watches. On Sundays when the factories were closed the power built up and needed to be released so engineers diverted it into what is now a famous tourist attraction on Lake Genève.
Near Lake Genève sits the city park which is nice to walk through even on a cold winter day with its flower clock, statue fountain and tree carving of the lion and the key of the city.
Genève is a very multicultural society. It is the European Headquarters for United Nations and houses the very first Red Cross building. It is a city that is all about protecting human life and respect for all human beings. When walking through the mall there are people giving out ‘Free Hugs’ , Rob and I avoided these lovely people as we are still sceptical in a strange country after being pick pocketed.
On our third day in Genève we woke up like excited children as it was snowing. Rob danced out on the balcony in his t-shirt and cotton boxers as he tried to catch the white cotton candy that floated aimlessly in the air. We have holidayed in the snow but have only seen snow actually fall once before. We enjoyed a morning snowflake walk through the park. A local lady smiled at us, as she watched us enjoy the simple pleasures of delicate snowflakes falling on our hair and coats.
Around lunchtime we headed for our next 2 night stay in Lausanne. The weather prediction is minus 6 tomorrow. We are hoping to see more snow.