I’ve known Matt for a couple of years now through working together at summer schools. We talk sporadically and although it’s usually gossip about the summer school and taking the piss out of each other it’s always good to hear from him. While I usually want to kill him by the end of three months of intensive summer school (and I’m sure the feeling is mutual) I’m always glad to see him when June rolls around and we both head back to Bournemouth for the start of our summer season.
English passport, raised in Swaziland, educated in South Africa, lived in the UK and then in Bangkok, Matt is now living the sweet life in Geneva. As I’ve travelled through several times and never gotten to visit this city and because after three months I’d forgotten how much Matt likes to wind me up and I fancied seeing him, I asked very nicely, and it was decided that I’d come and sample the Swiss life for four days.
Geneva is beautiful, it really is. I spent the days riding around the city, visiting museums and salivating over chocolate shop windows. The weather was a huuuuuge change. It was bloody Baltic. Absolutely freezing. I was woefully underprepared with my swanning around Italy selection of clothes and had to borrow coats and layer up to the extreme. It was nice though to step properly into autumn, fresh crisp days with brown leaves and sunshine that almost, just almost warms you up.
Geneva has a pretty chilled tourist vibe. There are loads of fantastic museums but two of the most important things to see in Geneva (rated on trip advisor) are the flower clock and the jet. Luckily the best thing about Geneva is not a flower arrangement with a mechanical clock that wouldn’t look out of place on a dual carriageway or a large stream of water. It’s the beautiful buildings scattered around the city, fantastic museums, the cafe culture, the stunning blue water and the upscale beauty of the place.
In the four days I was there I visited a zillion pretty churches, loads of lovely independent galleries, the Patek Phillipe, Voltaire and art history museums, the St Peters cathedral archeological site as well as spending hours just wandering around, people watching and crunching leaves in the many beautifully upheld public parks. I’d love to get to go back and visit the Red Cross museum, UN and natural history museum all of which I just didn’t have the time to squeeze in.
I’d 100% recommend getting a day pass while your in Geneva. For 9CHF for the full day or just 5.60CHF for nine hours it allows you to whizz around the city on Genevas very well organised and punctual trams, buses and even boats. Instead of paying upwards of 30CHF for a boat ride on Lake Geneva I used my daily travel card for a much more tight-fisted and poor backpacker friendly alternative of riding the bus to de Chateaubriand and then taking the three interlinking bus boats back into the city.
Geneva is constantly described as Europe’s most pleasant city and it is very pleasant, no really it’s lovely, really nice. I just don’t know if I particularly like pleasant, nice and lovely. I like shabby, vibrant and alive. I mean Geneva is beautiful with its postcard perfect chocolate box scenes and shimmering blue water. But where is the passion? Where is the life? Because while the city is undeniably stunning, for me, it lacks that je ne sais quoi that makes me fall in love with a city.
On paper it has everything you could want from a beautiful, historic city but somehow I just never really connected with it. It might have been something to do with it being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. The fact that I am a tight northerner posed me with difficulties when I was forced to consider selling a kidney in exchange for the price of a coffee and a slice of cake.
I did have a really nice trip and would like to again thank Mattybru for putting up with me and showing me round. Because there is a picture of him he might even spare 5 minutes to read this post. Or at least just skim it for where he’s mentioned.
The depressing state of my purse post-Geneva
I’ve been pretty lax in writing down costs but I can confirm that at the point of leaving Geneva, after my train from Marseilles, a few days in Geneva and the flight on to Alicante I am left with the grand sum of €108. Things are going to be getting very tight for the next few weeks.