Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Geneva.



It was decided that my first trip as a 22 year old would be back to Switzerland, eating my body weight in Swiss chocolate once again. I still can’t think of a better way to spend such a momentous birthday week – it is after all, my dedicated 12 months of being able to sing Taylor Swift’s hit track, because I was indeed ‘feeling 22’.

We flew with Easyjet from Southend Airport (our new favourite British airport because it’s so small and chaos free) to Genève Airport, located just outside the city centre. After a brief train ride (one stop) we were in the city, walking up to our hotel. We stayed at Ibis Genève Centre Nations, mainly because it was the cheapest place I could find in the ridiculously overpriced city. It turned out to be the perfect hotel, located a short walk from the main train station, a shower big enough to fit an entire family inside in one go, and staff that were kind enough to give us free transport passes for the entirety of our stay. I think we all know by now how much I love free things so I give Ibis a big thumbs up!

Sadly when we arrived, a layer of fog loomed over the city and decided to stick around until our last day exploring. Despite the weather, we made the best out of our short visit, primarily spending time with our lovely Italian pal, Ettore. He has been an official resident in Geneva for the past four months, so it was lovely to visit and have him show us around. Nothing beats having your own personal tour guide.

Day one was spent wandering around the foggy city, being astounded by the price of just about everything and stumbling across the biggest shopping centre I’ve ever seen. Six floors of food, beauty, clothes, toys and electronics – you could have bought every single Christmas present you needed in one place. The Giant Christmas Manor became a daily port of call, mainly because there was so much to see, and it also happened to be the only place to get a sandwich that didn’t cost more than your rent.

Speaking of overpriced food, our first evening meal was at a tiny Italian restaurant located off a side street by Geneva’s main train station. The food was lovely but the portions meant both me and Jake left hungry and wanting a second dinner. The entire city seemed to be of the same calibre, until we stumbled across our gem of a restaurant, DemiLuna Cafe. Located on 3 rue Etienne Dumont, it became the place of choice for the rest of the weekend. Serving a large portion of yummy cooked food (burgers, pizza, pasta, nachos etc.) for a reasonable price, and not to mention a lovely bunch of staff, it was a hit!

A regular morning coffee stop became CaffeRitazza, they did a lovely hot chocolate and it wasn’t too expensive for Geneva. It also happens to be inside the main train station, thus from the Ibis hotel we passed it every morning while walking into the city centre. The lady who ran the shop was lovely and it provided a nice opportunity to practice speaking French.

Holy Cow is great if you like fast food and healthy portions, situated just opposite the main train station (river side) and offering fast food in a wicker basket. Mainly burgers and chips, with local beers and traditional Swiss soft drinks, it’s definitely a popular place with the locals and heading there between 12-2 will result in a struggle to find a seat.

Besides searching for reasonably priced food, there is so much to do in the city!

The Red Cross Museum is only a tram ride away from the centre, and I wholeheartedly recommend a visit; I think I’ll tell you all about it in a separate post.

The old town is full of cobbled streets and old houses, not to mention a stunning cathedral that (for 5 francs) offers the best panoramic views of the city). One evening, we spent an hour watching a local protest (I have no idea what for) dancing to a very catchy song I can only imagine was called ‘salute’, while sitting on the swings in the old town. We didn’t realise until the next day (when the sun came up) how beautiful the scenery was - the old town seemed mismatched from the city below.

The main strip boasts a shopaholic’s heaven, with Gucci, Prada and Tiffany being all but a few examples. Geneva really would be the place to come if you have a large amount of money to burn, even the Christmas markets were selling expensive treats – no cheap tacky Christmas decorations in this city!

The lake is picturesque, something that I only appreciated while stood at the top of St. Pierre Cathedral above the layer of fog. This also happened to be the first time I could see the Jet d’Eau in full view. The fountain which jets 110 gallons of water per second to an altitude of 140 metres may not be environmentally friendly (needing the same amount of power as 500 kettles to keep it on all day) but it sure is impressive to watch. It also happens to be the biggest landmark in Geneva, which isn’t surprising considering its competition is a three legged chair. I joke, I loved the broken chair. It stands across the street from the Palace of Nations and symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, reminding politicians as well as those visiting Geneva to promote peace. It also makes a perfect Instagram shot.

If Architecture is your thing, then you might fancy a trip to one of my favourite spots, the Musee Ariana. Inside is devoted to ceramic and glass artwork (not exactly my cup of tea) but outside the building is beautiful, with large wooden doors, statues embedded in the outside wall and a dome on top. We happened to stumble across it while searching for the Red Cross Museum and at the time had no idea what it was. Warning: the doors open automatically, so you may jump with fear when you stand next to them to pose for a photo.

If we’d had more time, it would definitely have been fun to try the outdoor ice rink in Geneva Park District, it was only tiny but the freezing cold climate and the surrounding nature made it the perfect backdrop for an evening skate. If we had more money, it would have been fun to spend an afternoon in Jimmy Choo, but there’s always next time!







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