Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Monument to Geneva joining Switzerland in 1815

Floral Clock

Carving by two Genevan Ladies

Fountain in English Gardens

Jet d'eau at close quarters

Jet d'eau at night

We had hoped to go on a boat on Lac Leman (French name) or Lake Geneva (English name) today, but the forecast last night indicated thunderstorms and a 90% chance of rain. When we got up this morning, the sky was blue, but the streets were wet, so we decided to go tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be more settled. The day, however, has been much better than predicted.

We had breakfast in the hotel, collected picnic fixings at the supermarket/deli next door then walked up to the train station to book our next leg of the trip. Our intention was then to take a city bus tour at 11:00am, which we needed to book, but as it was only 9:30am, we figured we had plenty time. The legendary Swiss efficiency is evident as you go along the street and see signs to parking lots with the number of spaces and, illuminated, the number of free spaces. However, that efficiency let us down today. When we arrived at the station we took a number - 191 - to ensure our place in line. So far so good, till we realized that 139 was being attended to! As we saw the numbers slowly creeping up we despaired of making our tour. The man next to us, a Swiss, or at least Francophone, pointed to a loose number on the floor - 168 - the number after his, and urged us it pick it up. We were reluctant to do so, but as the numbers advanced ever so slowly, despite many numbers being skipped, presumably because the ticket holders had left in disgust, we eventually took 168 off the floor, to the satisfied nod of our companion. When we got to the wicket, just a hair before the time we had agreed to abandon this mission to another time, we sought advice about connections, but were not satisfied with the responses. We then pointed out what we had found on the web, which meant fewer changes, and the clerk allowed that this was possible and made the requisite reservation. The Swiss patience for queues appears to surpass that of the British, whose discipline in lining up is legendary.

We then went to the bus depot to book and catch our tour. While this took us round some of the international sites - UNO, Red Cross, ILO, etc., and some panoramic views of the city from places where the rich and famous have homes, the commentary was not well coordinated with the geography, something we had not encountered in Edinburgh or Paris. Indeed, I am inclined to believe the driver got lost, as he made an apparently unnecessary turn, followed by reversing into traffic on a narrow street after which the commentary did not match the surroundings, till suddenly one of the sights did! We were later ordered off the bus as the tour finished there (not where we were led to believe) and advised to take the train - the same tour we had taken the night before. We were also disappointed that there was only one occasion where a photograph would have been possible.

We abandoned the balance of the tour and sat by the lakeside to have our picnic lunch, attended by pigeons and sparrows. We then walked along the English Gardens where we came across a carving that would have looked quite at home on the west coast of Canada with the Haida Indians. We went further to see the Jet d'eau at closer quarters and have an ice cream. From there we sauntered downtown and along the main street eying the prices in the shop windows with trepidation. We went to a museum displaying Swiss Army and other knives which was very interesting. We saw a video about an American making a knife which I suspect was made by Scott McKinnon, my cousin's nephew. A highly edited version of this was shown in the PBS series Northwest Profiles some months ago.

We walked back to the hotel to rest our legs before venturing out again for dinner.

The heat here has been at least as warm as, if not warmer than Paris. I had assured Christine that, with the higher elevation, it would be cooler. Needless to say, I am not popular! Despite the forecast, the weather has been perfect, though some clouds gathered as we returned to the hotel. The clouds signified nothing and we left for dinner and found a restaurant by the lake where we watched the activities around us as we ate. We then strolled along the lake front in the gathering darkness. Just as the Old Lady watches over Paris, the Jet d'eau spread her luminous spray over Geneva.

On to the boat for a day trip to Lausanne tomorrow.

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