Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A weekend in Geneva

For the weekend that Captain America turned 30, we decided to take a road trip to Geneva. Getting out of Zurich was a minor adventure, as Captain America and I had no idea which way we were headed, what the signs were telling us to do, or what we might have been looking for. Fortunately, our friends were driving and navigating. Unfortunately, the navigator was in the back seat with the toddler and me.

Prior to arriving in Europe, I read up on all of the things we could do in Geneva once we got there. I don't think we hit on any of them, really. CERN offers tours on Saturdays, but they're 3 1/2 hours long...that's about 3 hours too much of physics for me, and I was the dork on the trip, so it would have been about 3 hours and 25 minutes too much of physics for everyone else.

The United Nations is not open on Saturdays in March.

Additionally, it was overcast and a little rainy while we were in Geneva, unlike the beautiful weather we had the day before. So my overall impression of the city was that it more of a business center than a tourist attraction. So, the next time I'm in Europe, I'm not sure I feel the need to return to Geneva; unlike St. Gallen, where I fell in love with a library, but I've already told you about that.

So what did we do in Geneva? We went to the Cathedral de Saint Pierre, where the tower was closed by the time we arrived. Apparently, the tower closes at 4:30, and the Cathedral at 5. None of the hours of operation, in the tour books, or in the Cathedral itself, say anything about that. So that was a bit of a disappointment, but since it was an overcast day, we probably wouldn't have seen much anyway. I've just double checked! The guidebook says that the tower is open until 5. I suppose it might be technically, but you still can't purchase tickets after 4:30.

We went to a Tex-Mex place called Manana for dinner, where we had pseudo-Mexican food served by an Asian waitress. Yes, this was where we celebrated Captain America's 30th birthday (clearly we did a bad job of planning for restaurants). There was a dessert place called Gilles Desplanches that I had marked in my tour book, that also served sandwiches and things, but it wasn't really what the boys on our trip were looking for. (Although I did purchase the biggest macaroon ever there, and it was wonderful!)

Captain America and I found an EgyptAir office in Geneva, which really probably isn't that surprising given the international-ness of Geneva, but it certainly amused us.

And we went to the botanical gardens, where there was a random little zoo. By random, I mean, not only was it odd to me, but there were reindeer, peacocks, and flamingos. Reindeer, I get, peacocks, maybe, but flamingos in Switzerland!

We also saw the Jet D'Eau, which is this giant fountain. Except when I read this, I was thinking along the lines of the Bellagio. Nope, it's a giant stream of water straight up in the air. In all fairness, the guidebook did say that it's a "sky-high plume," so apparently my imagination ran away with me.

One really, really odd thing we saw was the Parc Des Bastions & Place Neuve, where there were four-and-a-half-meter tall statues of Beze, Calvin, Farel, and Knox, as the guidebook says "in their nightgowns ready for bed." This image inspired in me an idea of something whimsical, like Peter Pan, but alas, it was four creepy-looking old men in either nightgowns or robes. It was weird on its own, but someone had paintballed all of the eyeballs black, so it was sort of looking like four figures of death. On top of that, the park was filled with all of the riff-raff that is apparently simply not allowed elsewhere in Switzerland, so, needless to say, we didn't stay long. The toddler seemed unfazed by all of this, which was probably for the best.

At the Palais des Nations, we saw the giant chair that was a project of Handicap International, and represents opposition to landmines.

We stayed at the Hotel Kipling. If you're scratching your head, we were too. The Lonely Planet, sympathetically, but not usefully, comments "what the jungle book or it's Bombay-born author has to do with Geneva is a question the staff at Hotel Kipling can't answer. But what the heck!" Yup, that pretty much sums it up. Oh, and the Bible came in four languages. I thought that was pretty cool.

All in all, Switzerland was wonderful, but Geneva was not my favorite part. I felt a little bad for Captain America, as I wanted his birthday to be special, and I felt that the rest of the week had been better, but then again, we had awesome weather for most of our trip, so we were bound to have some less than stellar weather. After all, it was still winter in Switzerland.

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