Sunday, 16 October 2016


Disclaimer: we may or may not have spent our last 20 francs on Swiss chocolate for dinner tonight.




I woke up Wednesday morning feeling in need of an adventure. A quick proposition to Elise and Matt (my Canadian counter-parts) and the next thing you know, we found ourselves at the Grenoble train station yet again.

This morning we met up bright and early at the gare, with our tickets in hand and two of three passports (luckily Matt didn't get deported) we were headed direction Genève. 

Since arriving in France, a month and a half ago (already I know), I've stuck to what I've known, that being France. Well today I've finally left the country for what I hope will be the first of many times in the next few months.  It was especially exciting for me as I was now able to add a country to my "country count". Switzerland was apart of my original backpacking plan for the summer of 2014, but eventually never made the cut (ragrets, I know), making today the first time I've set foot in the Swiss territory, and it definitely didn't disappoint.

For starters, the Geneva Train Station is nicer than the Toronto Airport.  Well maybe, not quite..but we were honestly in awe..of a train station.  Descending from the tracks you become surrounded by boutiques, small shops and of course cafes.  The atmosphere was overwhelming as you rarely expect to see such a thing (except maybe the Gare de Lyon in Paris), and the best part, it was nearly spotless, so clean. It took us a solid five minutes to navigate our way out, but we clearly didn't mind.

First stop was the Maison de Tourisme, the Tourist Office, of course.

User-friendly, picture-bearing map for directionally challenged tourists such as ourselves

Second stop, flower clock. The second largest of its kind (is that even a bragging right??), the Geneva flower clock was created in 1955 to represent Geneva's dedication to the nature of, you guessed it, watchmaking.

Next we were headed to discover the Red Cross Museum at the United Nations, but not without of course, a detour to hang with the swans.

Squad up

So the "user-friendly, picture-bearing map for directionally challenged tourists such as ourselves" turned out to be rather inaccurate (shocking I know).  After walking for over an hour in search of the museum, essentially across half of the city, which appeared on the map to be "just behind the train station and one block to the right", we had found the United Nations of Geneva (again the second largest of four in the world, but I think that this deserves slightly greater bragging rights than that of the flower clock).  Also featured in the square of nations in front of the UN is the Broken Chair Monument. Positioned on face of the Palace of Nations, the Broken Chair symbolizes the opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, acting as a reminder to politicians visiting Geneva.

Ensuite was the venture to find food (when aren't I on the hunt for food??). We decided that taking the tram back into town from the UN would be a time-efficient option and frankly I was too hangry to navigate our way back for another hour long trek. We managed to take the tram in the right direction and everything (!).

The restaurant of choice for today was "La buvette des Bains des Paquis", located on the end of the pier overlooking Lake Geneva. A almost cafeteria-like restaurant (sounds weird I know), everyone grabs a tray and waits in (the every so humongous) line in front of the counter and then carries their own tray of food (back through the ever so humongous crowd) to attempt to find a table on the pier.

Plat du jour: Squash filled ravioli topped with tomatoes and arugula, and a ginger beer

Needless to say (this is Europe after all), the food was amazing, and well worth the wait.  Upon finishing we began to get hit with the food coma "I need a nap feeling".  Knowing all well we had no time for any sort of break, we hopped up from the table and were on the move again.  We headed further out onto the pier to help wake us up and walk off this lunch!

Would also like to mention we had a photo shoot, however, due to the sun, most of our selfies turned out like the following...

We tried

Once the photo shoot came to an end (a girl can only squint for so long), it was time to explore the old town.

He insisted!

View of the old town, halfway up to the cathedral

Bon appétit!

The staple of the Old Town is the cathedral, St. Pierre's Cathedral (or St. Peter's Cathedral, in English), a 4th century Gothic-style church.

Our tour started with actually walking underneath the present day cathedral, to where some of the remains of the original 3rd century cathedral are still preserved, all the way up until the current cathedral of the 12th century.  Luckily, for us, we had our history and archaeology buff, Matt, along with us to explain well, pretty much everything,

More than likely explaining something uber intelligent to us

I won't go through the entirety of the tour (obviously) because it's something you need to see for yourself, but here a few small details I found particularly interesting:

First are the individual cells of the monks. I was surprised by the size of space allocated to each of them (shown below)- a two story room, with a sleeping space on top and a space for leisure activities, painting, reading, pottery, on the bottom. Monks were known to live very simple lives, and to be honest I was expecting a 10x10 room with a bed! The room was complete with a heating unit found under the ground-level floor (the monks had heated floors in their bedrooms, sorry what??).

Next was the room of the bishop.  What I found particularly interesting here was the detailed mosaic flooring of the bedroom. Who has time to hand place each tile to create this beautiful mosaic, you may ask? Monks, that's who (this was before social media existed, remember).

What remains of the mosaic flooring

In detail

Unfortunately we didn't have time to climb the bell tower (the tallest climbable point in the city and therefore the best view of Geneva) before it closed for the day, but we did have a quick chance to tour inside the present day St. Pierre's Cathedral.

After the old town it was time to call it a day and start heading back to the train station to buy our tickets home (always be sure to give yourself loads of time at the train station during the weekends, as it is always super busy with people travelling every which way- great fo people watching if you've got the time), and to find a quick dinner to take with us on the train.

Hey, I said "quick", didn't I?

The last thing that I want to touch on in this post is the number of public water fountain spots we saw yesterday, with drinkable water. You'll often see this is France as well, however, Geneva had some beautifully constructed fountains.

"Eau potable"

In which we 100% took full advantage of (and I couldn't help but to photograph).

Perfect for you know, filling up you water bottle for free, or better yet? Just sticking you whole head under the tap.

Well with that, I conclude the end of my weekend adventure to Switzerland. What was the best part about Switzerland, you may ask?

Well, I don't know exactly. But I can tell you, the flag is a big plus.

I'm punny, I know,

1 comment:

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