Saturday August 1st,
The past three days I have been staying at Hotel de Geneve in downtown Geneva, Switzerland with my good friend, Morgan Gutwein, whom I have been traveling with for this past week. The first day we arrived to 75 degree weather with a drizzling rain, which is a far cry from the 99 degree, humid weather of Athens, Greece. It was a nice change of pace and very relaxing. As we exited the airport we walked to the connected train station to take a 6 minute, 3 Franc train into central Geneva. This was such a great save considering a taxi would have costed us 50 Franc! At the central station we only had about a 7 minute walk with our luggage to our hotel.
After we had got all checked in and settled into the cozy little old styled room we would call our home for the next three days we headed to the Plaine de Plainpalais. This is a town square where they hold local flea markets. Since it was almost 4pm when we got to the market, most things were put away and vendors were packing up. We both wanted to see the market in full swing, but with the time and the rain it just wasn’t in the cards for us. So we headed back to the hotel to plan out our next two days in Geneva.
On Thursday we decided to head to a local market in the morning to get some groceries to save money on food for the next two days. Eating out is extremely expensive in Geneva. Then we wandered around different parts of Geneva for a couple hours. I truly think the best way to discover a city is to just let yourself get lost in it, and experience the wonders it has to offer. So we did just that for a couple hours, then took a train to the Palais de Nations, also known as the United Nations. Before we took a tour through the United Nations we visited the Broken Chair monument which Geneva has become famous for. The monument is for all of those who have lost their lives due to land mines. It is positioned directly in front of the UN building so it was easy to see both in the same afternoon.
After that we walked around to the side of the UN gated area to enter through the visitor entrance. We went through security, told an officer my information, got an official name badge with a horrible photo of me on it, and then we were on our way to another building to find our tour group leader and the rest of the group whom we would be seeing the UN with. It was a quick walk and we were on our way to visit three main conference centers. The first was a new one called Room 20 where a lot of large UN meetings are held. The second was the old League of Nations Conference room, also known as the Peace Room because so many conflicts are send to this room to be resolved. One for example was the seize fire act between North and South Korea, the room is key because it has two doors on either side of the room so both parties can enter at the same time. The last room we saw was the Assembly Hall where all of the major meetings of the masses are held. Throughout the tour I learned a lot about the UN and it’s many functions. It was certainly a great stop for Morgan and I to take while in Geneva.
Later that evening Morgan and I walked along a local Carnival that Geneva was hosting. It ran along both sides of the lake, but we only visited one side of it for the night. It was fun to see the differences in the rides and food, and then see the similarities. Then we walked out on a rock path along the pier to watch the sunset over the Alps.
The next day, Friday, Morgan and I went on a run along the major river running off of Lake Geneva. It was a wooded trail path that provided a challenging run with spectacular views of the river and surroundings. Then we had lunch at the hotel and got ready to head to the other side of Lake Geneva. We had heard from friends and reviews that paddle boating on Lake Geneva is great so we decided to give it a try. We found the rental company pretty easily, rented our paddle boat and off we went. Lake Geneva is one of only three natural lakes to have blue water. And it was truly a gorgeous blue, green that was super clear. We could see down quite a ways has we paddled out of the cove and into the main part of the lake. We might have been the only paddle boat out as far as we were but we were up for the challenge, well except when a steamer tried to run over us, but I would just call that a minor glitch. After the waves that followed the steamer we had smooth sailing, literally.
All in all it was a great afternoon spent on Lake Geneva just relaxing a paddling along. After we got out though, let me tell you, it was not as smooth. I think when I first stood up and hopped out of the boat my knees almost gave out beneath me. We had been paddling around for about 3 hours and with the trail run on top of that, my legs were shot. It was an interesting walk back trying to venture through the carnival on this side of the lake with wobbly knees.
At the carnival we walked around for bit. We saw a couple painters that we stopped and looked at their art. I hadn’t found a painting for Switzerland yet so we were on the prowl for the next great thing. Lucky me, we stumbled across one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. A man was sitting on a stool, paint spread out in front of him and he was finger painting on glass; adding the finest of details with a paint brush. It was double pained glass that gave the paintings a 3D effect since he painted on two surfaces that were stacked on top of one another. The one I choose was a super cute and colorful painting of the Jet d’Eau, which is the largest fountain in Europe and on Lake Geneva. It was a great piece to add to my collection.
After our adventures at the carnival we ate dinner and went back to the hotel at a decent hour since we were both exhausted and I had an early train the next morning. Geneva was an amazing city in Switzerland that I would return to in a heart beat. It doesn’t have a ton of touristy things to do, but I just loved experiencing the city. If it wasn’t such an expensive country I could have seen myself living off of Lake Geneva. The atmosphere is great and the views are incredible. One day I want to come back and go skiing in the Swiss Alps.
I am now on a train heading to Salzburg, Austria. It is an 8 hour train ride along the country side with one change in Zurich before continuing on. I am officially on my own. Morgan dropped me off at the train station, gave me a hug and said see you in three weeks. She is heading back to Paris, France to catch her flight home, and I’m continuing my Euro Trip solo. I met a young woman, Ursella, who is from Austria and was switching to the same train as me in Zurich so we stuck together until her stop which was about two hours before mine. She had lived all over the world the past 11 years and was now returning home for a job and to be close to family. When I told her I was from Indiana she said that her ex-boyfriend lived in Illinois and completed his undergrad at a school in Indiana. As it turned out he is a Purdue Alum. and she had visited Purdue several times. It never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it is.
But this small world philosophy of mine is not really what the world is; which I’ve come to see here in Europe with how different everything is in comparison to Indiana. Most people are probably scared for me to travel through Europe on my own, but I’m honestly not scared. Hopping on and off trains, checking in and out of random hotels, and conquering the newest city’s metro have become second nature to me. And up next is the lovely city of Salzburg, Austria. I love this and the freedom it gives me. If I could have a hundred summers just like this one I would, and it would never get old.