Geneva 1


Je viens d’arriver à Zurich après avoir été à Genève trois jours.

I have just returned to Zürich after spending three days in Geneva. This was my first time in French Switzerland. The train trip lasted 2 h 45 m. I stayed two nights at the hostel operated by Hostelling International. The city is located on the southwest side of Lake Geneva (which is known as Lac Léman in French) and the Rhône River flows through the city. I walked first to the Rue du Mont-Blanc where I found the post office and the tourist information centre. I had to buy more stamps for postcards [1] and pick up a city map. Oddly, I never used the two different map freebies for pedestrians. I much preferred the Geneva map for cyclists, as on one side it covered the city centre naming every single street, no matter how small it was, and on the other side it showed the entire canton [2] in great detail.

I ate my lunch and people-watched in the pedestrian-only Rue du Mont-Blanc, then headed for the hostel to empty my backpack and to change into short pants. It has been a very hot three days, and while I did remember to apply sunscreen to my arms, shoulders and neck, I forgot to do my face. After one day in the sun, my face was red.

Geneva’s old town, the Vieille Ville, occupies a vast area south of the Rhône and to get there, I crossed the Pont du Mont-Blanc. One cannot miss the Jet d’Eau, the symbol of the city, a fountain shooting to a height of 140 m.
I first saw the fountain while walking towards the bridge. It was shooting up behind the buildings (it sounds like it has a drug habit) and it was so surreal to see a plume of water soaring behind every rooftop.

The Promenade du Lac is a prime people-watching place and it is very relaxing to look across the lake to both coasts, watching the boats and the fountain while writing postcards and my travel journal.

I was feeling tired by the early evening as I did not sleep on the flight over, and just like last year once I arrived I headed out to the streets of Zürich to go shopping. I bought only one thing: a first-edition (2007) German-Friulian phrase book. Friulian is a minority language of Italy and it is closely related to Romansch. Thus I did not stay out too late in Geneva, as I needed to catch up on my sleep. I will write about Geneva part two in the next mail, where I tell about my visits to the Palace des Nations and on to Gy, one of the shortest-named places in the world.

[1] Since no one has ever received a postcard from me from Geneva, I’m going overboard sending these ones out. While I do keep track during my vacations which cards I send to whom to ensure that no one gets duplicates, I don’t save these records from year to year.

[2] Except for Céligny. Switzerland loves to split its cantons into little discontiguous pieces. There are two parts of the canton of Geneva which are separated by the canton of Vaud (Waadt in German) in the north.

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