A Travellerspoint blog

Geneva - a classy city! - updated

Solo travel

sunny 25 °C

There is no other way to describe it, Geneva is one classy city! So much so that when I left, I felt almost privileged to have visited. However, on arrival, it could have went so horribly wrong! I arrived at Geneva airport quite late at night. The airport conveniently connects its train station with the city. It takes under 10 minutes and this turned out to be a godsend!

A train arrived. I asked a woman if it was going to the city and she replied "Oui". So on I jumped, to realise a few seconds later, I had left my luggage on the platform! Panic! When I arrived at Geneva Cornavin, I jumped back on a train back to the airport and voila, there was my bag! When I eventually arrived at my airbnb, I told my host and she just smiled and said 'Ah Switzerland'. Almost as if this wouldn't happen in any other country but Switzerland. I think she may be correct! So, classy and safe!!

Around Town

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The next morning, I was keen to get out and explore the city. The sun was shining, staying near the incredible Lake Geneva I decided to walk into town. Sauntering through the park, it was a delight to see the postcard picture backdrop of snow-capped mountains, surrounding the lake, unfold before me in the distance. Those symbols of prosperity, in the shape of exquisite yachts, were packed tightly, moored around the lake.

Around Lake Geneva

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Anyone know what these trees are?

Going about the day, it was hard to ignore that this alpine nation is highly efficient and runs like clockwork. The Swiss seem to derive genuine joy from the certainty that life unfolds on time, and in a highly efficient manner. A nation where trains and everything else, run bang on time. It is no coincidence that the Swiss are famous watchmakers. Although not a 'clean queen', I could not help but notice that cleanliness abounds, public toilets sparkle and tap water comes straight from natural springs.

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Prior to visiting Geneva, people liked to point out, with the raised eyebrow and pause, that it was expensive. Having never been themselves, it was like they wanted to pass on a bit of 'insider knowledge' or warn I would not get good value for money. Ok, yes, you do pay a bit more here and there. Having never been however, what the bearers of bad news cannot tell you, is that the quality delivered is worth every Swiss franc!

Old Town

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Great freshly cooked meals (£15-20), delicious, large coffee/cake (£6-7), great service, interesting shops, efficient local transport (£5 day pass), interesting museums, the authenticity, and the list goes on...... Although it does not cost a franc to walk round the lake! Switzerland's neutrality is everywhere around. There is no bomb damage and the buildings are as they have developed organically, having never been invaded. You will find yourself sipping coffee and eating cake in the cove of a medieval building. And if it looks medieval, it is medieval!

International Red Cross & Red Crescent Museum

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The neutrality is also obvious in the country’s humanitarian bent. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent was born in Geneva and its museum (£12.50 entrance fee) documents Switzerland’s commitment to humanitarian aid. A very thought-provoking venue with many interesting historical and modern exhibits, along with opportunities for interactive pursuits. My only regret was not leaving adequate time to do the exhibition the justice it deserved. It also hosts a great wee gift shop, selling many quirky items at reasonable prices.

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Just down the road, you arrive at the Palais de Nations; the second largest of the four United Nations sites in the world. Directly across from the UN offices sits a big square, Place de Nations. It was here I came across a small peaceful demonstration attended by Algerian refugees living in Switzerland and France. They were mirroring protests in Algeria, triggered by the announcement that President Bouteflika would seek a fifth term in office the following month. The ailing President had returned to the country after two weeks in a Swiss hospital for routine health checks, people hoped he would not return, to stand for re-election.

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Towering over the famous square, stands the monumental Broken Chair, constructed by renowned sculptor Daniel Berset in 1997. Its image has been around the world and is now regarded as one of the most iconic pieces of 21st century art. Its message is simple; remember the plight of landmine victims and encourage States to commit themselves to the prohibition of cluster munitions.

Even the way the country is set up seems like the epitome of peaceful co-existence. Politically it is a direct democracy, culturally it recognises four language groups. Geneva is a multicultural city in the broadest sense. Some cities are considered ‘multicultural’, by the mere fact populations of minority groups exist within their boundaries. Something special happens in Geneva. The 136 nationalities co-exist together, in their social, professional and private lives.

This is obvious from the groups of well-dressed professionals rushing to meetings, to friends out shopping or couples from various ethnic backgrounds strolling hand in hand on the street. It also struck me as a society that enjoyed greater equality between the sexes. Men seem to take on the role of carer more naturally, out pushing prams and playing with children in the park. Not the Glaswegian version, often considered a threat to masculinity! Trying too hard to look cool, pushing the pram with one arm, with a mouthful of gum!

Oh, last but not least, the people were great too, in fact, they are all just like Federer!

Posted by katieshevlin62 01:18 Archived in Switzerland Comments (4)

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