Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Give Geneva a Chance" Day

Okay, so I decided to give Geneva a second chance today. I slept in, watched some more English television and then headed out to do some siteseeing. The first thing on my list was to go see the UN. So I figured out which tram to jump on and about 10 minutes later was standing in front of the Palais des Nations.

Of course it being a Sunday – and winter – the UN was closed. I knew that though, so it wasn’t a surprise. In winter they only offer guided tours M-F, but there just wasn’t a way for me to get here mid-week given my class schedule at the Alliance Francais. It was still really cool though. And about a block away is the building that houses the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), which most Americans only have heard of because of Angelina Jolie and the wonderful work she has done as their Goodwill Ambassador.

After the UN, I wandered around that area for a little while then headed back towards the hotel. In addition to being closely situated to the train station, the hotel was also only a 10 minute walk to Lake Geneva. So I walked down to the lake, saw the famous geyser that is shown in all/any photos of Geneva, and then decided to take a boat ride – I figured it was Lake Geneva afterall! The boat ride lasted about an hour and was great. My hands were frozen though (I only brought one set of hand warmer packets with me to Geneva and had used them the night before). It was a nice, scenic ride. Set against the shore line of Lake Geneva you can see the Alps and Mont Blanc (through the haze).

I learned two things on the boat ride:

1) Lake Geneva is central Europe’s largest fresh water lake; and

2) Switzerland had 4 official languages: French, Italian, German and Romanche (What the heck is Romansh?!? I’ll have to Google that!)

Update: This Romansh thing is truly bizarre... take a look at what wikipedia says here

By the time the boat was over, so was my time in Geneva. I went back to the hotel to collect my satchel and then walked across the street and got on the 4:15pm TGV train back to Paris. I’m actually writing this post on the train and will post it when I get back to my apartment.

Would I come back to Geneva? Probably. But really only because someday I want to be able to take the tour of the UN. I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t impressed with Geneva. It just seemed like a big city – any big city. I didn’t really get a real sense of history here despite the Old Town section and it just seemed to lack any sort of ambiance. I may be spoiled though because Paris just oozes history and charm. Every neighborhood here has its own personality.

If I do come back to Geneva, it will probably be just a pass through on my way to Chamonix – the ski resort town on Mont Blanc. Had I had more time here (and a more suitable – i.e. warmer – wardrobe), I would/could have taken a day trip to Chamonix. It just didn’t work out this time. So if I come back to Switzerland, that’s my plan – Chamonix and a pit stop at the UN for a guided tour. But at least I can (finally) add Switzerland to my travel resume :-)

At this point my train arrived back in Paris at Gare de Lyon.
I then took the Metro (Lines 1 & 8) to a stop called Grands Boulevards and
then walked 5 minutes back to my apartment.

Okay, I’m back home now! I missed my little place on the Rue du Croissant. Time to take out the garbage, review my assignments for French class tomorrow and make myself a nice, warm Crepe Fromage (i.e. cheese crepe - natural, not sweet - made with a combination of Brie and Camembert). Oh yeah, and watch some exciting Al Jarezeera TV to cap off the night – ha!

Bonne Nuit

Click here to view all of today's photos (11/16/08)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so do we get to try the Crepe Fromage upon your return to the States??? ;)