In the past few hours in Switzerland, I’ve seen:
An unbelievable amount of roller skaters (we’re talking 1950′s style drive up diner skates)
At least 5 fully grown men trying to make the popped collar “look” work
More adults on scooters than I ever thought possible
A man proclaiming his love to his girlfriend outside a portable toilet
$8 small coffees at Starbucks
Geneva is strange, y’all.
Today was a Swiss holiday. At least, I think it was a Swiss holiday. I can’t tell you for sure, because no one has told me which Swiss holiday it was. Regardless, I had the day off work. When I woke up this morning, I had two goals: buy a plate and buy a bowl. After eating cereal out of a pot (due to the aforementioned lack of a bowl), I set out into Geneva.
Like most other cities, Geneva is composed of several smaller neighborhoods. This morning, I went to Carouge to begin my search for a bowl and plate. I had been told that Carouge is sort of like a Geneva style Greenwich Village (it’s not) and that there is an excellent thrift store where I could buy any odds and ends I might still need. When I got to the thrift store, however, I found it was FERMER until 13:30 or 1:30. So I set off to find a cafe and a sandwich. An hour later, after sign languaging my way through ordering a sandwich, I returned to the store to find, to my dismay, the store was still FERMER. Fuming, I waited another 15 minutes until 1:45 to find the store still closed and decided to come back on another day. Still bowl-less and plate-less I continued on to Old Town.
While Carouge required a bit of explanation, I’m pretty confident that Old Town is relatively self-explanatory. To get to Old Town, I got back on the bus and passed by what is quickly becoming my favorite park/place in Geneva — Parc des Bastions. Before going to Old Town, I stopped by the park and watched a bit of giant chess for a few minutes. While going from the park to Old Town, I tried to stop and visit a supermarket to buy my bowl. Apparently supermarkets are also closed on the holiday. Still no bowl.
Afterwards, I made the trek up to Old Town, which is a climb. Old Town is the more “European” part of the city, and is conveniently located on top of what has to be the highest hill in the city. Almost entirely by accident, I found myself atop that hill, and was greeted by a nice view. Then I saw it: the giant fountain.
For those unfamiliar with Geneva, one of its better known (and totally random) landmarks is its giant fountain in the middle of Lake Geneva. Casting aside my quest for a moment, and struck by spontaneous curiosity, I started walking directly towards it. The walk was surprisingly fast, and within minutes I was staring up at the giant fountain. Later, I did some cursory research and found that the fountain blasts water about 95 meters above the lake. Lake Geneva is pretty spectacular, and I was able to walk along a jetty to get out to the fountain itself. Looking back on it, I’m blown away that people are encouraged to walk on this thing, it’s about three feet wide with no hand rails or guards. It would be pretty easy to fall right into the lake, and with crowds of tourists (and maybe even some locals) walking up and down the jetty, the walkway is more than a bit treacherous.
I made my way back to Cite empty handed. My quest to find a bowl and plate had ended in failure. I texted Jamal and got dinner with him around 9, and we made our way back to Cite on what must have been the last bus back. Tomorrow I have my second meeting with my boss, Jean-Claude, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a better understanding of what I’ll be doing this summer. Jamal and I will also be setting off by train for Interlaken this weekend to see a bit more of Switzerland’s famous beauty. In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep eating my cereal out of a pot.