Genève: The city of peace
When Jackie and I planned our trip, we picked a few nights in Geneva to break up a potential 8-hour train ride from Lyon to Milan. I like trains a lot, but not that much. I’m so glad we added this beautiful city.
Geneva is a compact, walkable city with restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and stores on nearly every street. It is also known as the City of Peace, or Peace Capital, because many diplomatic peace-keeping talks occurred here, The League of Nations was founded here following World War I, and was later replaced by the European headquarters of the United Nations.
While in Lyon, we learned the Swiss speak three languages — German, French and Italian, which are spoken in specific dialects, Swiss German, Swiss French and Swiss Italian — none of which are written or taught in schools. German, French and Italian are recognized as the official languages of Switzerland, along with Romansh, which is used by only a small group that understands it. Thankfully for us, English is the most commonly spoken non-national language in Switzerland.
To our delight, we arrived to find our Swiss Airbnb home well-equipped with a dining area (which doubled as our workspace), a comfortable couch in the living room, a wireless Sonos speaker (for dancing in the kitchen) and a separate bedroom with a large closet with plenty of drawers and storage. There was also a grocery store conveniently located at the base of our apartment building. The gem, for me at least, was the Krups coffee maker. This bad boy had an attachment to make foam for our morning cappuccinos. My life will never be the same.
After settling in our Swiss home, we ventured out to a newer restaurant in the area, Les Philosophes, with a separate wine and champagne bar. Because it was Monday night (we think), Jackie and I were the bar’s only customers. Our server, Marie, was delightful. Jackie ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. When Marie discovered they were out of the particular selection, she immediately came over, apologized and suggested an alternative, which Jackie very much enjoyed. I ordered an NA beer, Chopfab, which was also delicious. 😋
We also had charcuterie, cheese and bread, which we quite enjoyed, though it’s hard to go wrong with cheese and bread. Am I right? Jackie loved the purple velour couch. It was pretty comfortable, but come on, people, purple velour! It’s probably a good thing we don’t own a home right now, or that thing would already be ordered.
FIGURING OUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION (AND PHARMACIES)
During a Hop On Hop Off Bus tour, we saw nearly 20 international organizations’ headquarters (out of the 40 that are in Geneva) — the World Health Organization, International Red Cross and World Trade Organization, among them. Our bus made a stop at the United Nations for photos, and directly across the street was the Broken Chair, a sculpture symbolizing the campaign against landmines.
Unfortunately, it was raining during our tour, so we couldn’t see Mount Blanc or the Alps. The Alps, or les Alpes, form a wall between northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and we had a chance to see a section of them on our train ride to Milan.
Jackie and I hopped on the tram near our apartment one morning to head toward Lake Geneva. Once we realized we were going in the opposite direction 🤦🏻♂️, we changed trains and went back the right way. Public transportation in Geneva is fantastic, and there was a tram stop near our apartment, making it easy to get around the city. It also seemed as if the city trams were on the honor system, as there wasn’t a clear way to show or scan our tickets. Nobody ever asked us to produce the tickets we purchased before each ride. 🤷🏻♀️
After hopping off the tram, we walked toward Lake Geneva and had a lovely lunch with terrific views of the Jet d’Eau (the Geneva Water Fountain). Jackie and I disagreed about the fountain’s impressiveness compared to the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. I’ll let you guess our preferences.
Once we finished lunch, Jackie began experiencing migraine symptoms and was doing her best to put on a brave face. Not brave enough to fool me though, so we ducked into a nearby pharmacy for help. The pharmacist suggested Panadol, an extra-strength pain reliever with caffeine. In one of the kindest moments we’ve experienced on this trip, the pharmacist asked Jackie if she wanted a glass of water to take the medication before leaving the pharmacy. It was such a simple act and made such an impression on both of us. Her headache dissipated about 30 minutes later. Panadol = magic.
Geography is Cool
Fun fact, Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland and one of the largest in Western Europe. Switzerland and France share the lake, which extends about 60 miles/96 kilometers from Geneva to Chamonix to the east. Charlie Chaplin’s mansion, studio and park are here at Chaplin’s World (we didn’t have a chance to visit it).
Our friends, Jodi and Erik, visited Geneva late last year and Jodi suggested we get fondue at Le Flore. We ordered it for two and added boiled potatoes as a dipping option with the bread. It was enough to feed four. No words can adequately describe the goodness of our meal. I’m still thinking about it nearly a week later.
Thankfully, I’d already run a few times before gorging on fondue. Geneva was terrific to run through, with several parks, paths and trails throughout the city. I also had a chance to run along the shore of Lake Geneva, cross the Mont Blanc Bridge, and along the Arve River, which meets up with Rhone as it travels east toward Lyon. You can read more about that here.
Our next stop is Milan, which will be celebrating Fashion Week. We should fit right in with our stretchy pants and sneakers.
If you’re planning to explore Geneve, consider using our handy-dandy scavenger hunt.