Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Gare de Lyon

Motorcycles at Gare de Lyon

Iain and TGV

Jet d'eau in Geneva

Swans in Lake Geneva

Cow at waterfront

Another Cow - and me!

Tour d'ile - Ceasar passed here

Place Neuve

Side street off Place Molard

Dinner on Place Molard

Band at Place Molard

We were up bright and early to have breakfast in the hotel and take a taxi to the Gare de Lyon to catch the TGV fast train to Geneva. Having spent three - four if you count the night of our arrival - in glorious (Christine says, "Boiling hot") weather in Paris, we left in clouds and a smattering of rain. We got our rail passes validated and were on our way. The train soon picked up speed and as we raced through the French countryside at over 300KPH we caught glimpses of farmland, white cows, vineyards and many powerlines - at one point 6 parallel lines. When I had decided that I either was not reading the map correctly or we were going to get to Geneva far ahead of schedule, the train slowed and the last third of the distance took well over half the time. Presumably that stretch of track is not built for the high speed of the TGV. As we approached Switzerland we saw mountains rising in the distance and gradually drawing nearer. Not quite the ruggedness we associate with the Alps, but mountains nevertheless. No doubt the typical "alp" peak will be more evident later when we reach Lucerne.

By the time we reached Geneva we were back in bright sunshine and far warmer temperatures than I expected. We got off the train and walked a short distance to our hotel, which again is very comfortable and has WIFI for the internet. Technology really is outstanding (when it works!). What would our grandparents have thought of sitting in an hotel room thousands of miles away unconnected by wires and communicating with friends and relatives in complete ease?

We went out and walked down to the lakeside for a sandwich and walked further along, away from town to look down the lake. Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman in French is the largest lake in Western Europe and is home to hundreds - maybe thousands of boats. The place was busy with pleasurecraft, private and commercial.

We walked back into the town and meandered into part of the old town. If anyone is wondering what happened to those ridiculous cows we had on Jasper Avenue a few years ago, we found them. They are all over Geneva and do not look any better for the transatlantic shipping. We admired an old tower in memory of a Genovese patriot, Philbert Barthelier, of whom I have never heard, which also bears a plaque commemorating Julius Caeser, of whom I have heard, who apparently passed here on his way to conquer Britain and other far flung parts of the Empire.

We decided it was too hot to go further and returned to the waterfront to catch a "train" to tour the old town. It was quite interesting, and instructive about how Geneva was a refuge for reformers in the 1500s and the first Protestant place of worship was built here - it is still standing. John Knox, of Scottish fame, also spent time here avoiding Queen Mary who would have liked to be rid of him.

We went to a square to have pizza for dinner and spent a few hours enjoying the ambiance and pretending not to be impatient with the slow service. Our neighbours from Zurich were less successful in concealing their feelings. In French speaking areas it is evident that a meal is not merely to sustain the body, but an activity to be savoured, enjoyed, spun out as long as possible and allow the body to merge slowly with the food till the two become one. We will be rudely awakened when we return to "fast food" in Edmonton! While we waited on, and enjoyed dinner, we were entertained, first by a small musical group of ragged musicians, then by the Tribune Geneve, a very professional sounding band who played many favourites, finally, as we were leaving three clowns, acrobats, gymnasts, call them what you will, started their routine.

The walk back to the hotel was made interesting by the ladies of the night sauntering by, some of whom we had encountered earlier in the afternoon. Trade appeared slow on both occasions.

Tomorrow is a surprise, weather is to be unpredictable, so we will play it by ear.

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