First things first, I admit I was completely unaware that Geneva (Genève) is called something different in German. I literally got a cultural shock when I found out that I was going to “Genf” one sunny day in April. (Yes, it was sunny few hours, but I could not make out Mont-Blanc in the distance…).
So, board the train and, three and a half hours from Zurich, you are in Geneva! (And oh wow, the train has a Starbucks car! Starbucks! How I missed thou!) First impressions: Geneva is calm and sunny and quite pretty, it looks like Paris, it feels like a big city (shops! tourists! Loads of Americans!). And then the rain started and I was jumping from one taxi to the other (and oh! they even have Uber! Big city, I am telling you!).
I did not have much time in Geneva, but I tried my best to get to know this pretty lady. And generally I really enjoyed my time there. So, in case you also have just a few hours in the city, that is what I recommend:
Dinner at Café du Centre, which feels like dinner in a local best-loved place for the ladies and gentlemen (all dressed up and enjoying life, despite the age) from the neighbourhood. The oysters were nice, the local wine – surprisingly excellent, the fishermen’s soup – a monstrous portion (I mean – really big portion. In a good way). Moreover, we were given a warm welcome and had an excellent waiter. It’s about where you eat and what you drink and who is around you… ah yeah and the food. Okay, this is not your haute French cuisine, but still nice.
We did not ask for table outside (it was raining), but I imagine it feels so romantic on a summer night!
Visit the Patek Philippe Museum of watches and watchmakers. Sounds boring? It is actually fantastic! There are so many tiny treasures there – you could easily get lost in the world of watches (and sometimes clocks). The Antique Collection comprising of watches from 1500 to 1850 will take your breath away. You cannot take pictures but believe me, the exposition is fantastic. To me, who is a huge fan of the Fabergé museum in Saint Petersburg and all such things, this was home away from home. So recommended.
Try to learn about physics and particles and creation of life at CERN. It’s all-impressive of course, even more so as the CERN’s exhibitions (currently two of them: “Universe of Particles” and “Microcosm”) are free AND the parking is complimentary. And then think about this: when the CERN engineers discovered Internet many years ago (1989) they gave it to the world for free. There is a reason you don’t get your random billionaire investing in CERN. I love it that they still want to give to people of the planet, rather than pay dividends (or equivalent) to capitalists.
You don’t need reservations and you don’t need to queue to get your ticket. And I’ve never met more helpful personnel in the public place of attraction. You can easily spend the afternoon in the museum if you are interested to know how physics of the world work – there is a lot of information presented in all types of visual and audio form.
home.cern [how cool is this web-page address!]
Conclusion after just over a day in Geneva: seriously, it seems it is all about the friendly people of Geneva. I never expected that!
As to things I did not do, but maybe you will:
– take an “iconic selfie” (really, Time Out??) at jet d’eau. I walked up and down Pont du Mont-Blanc, but a thought of taking a picture of this water fountain did not cross my mind;
– explore Geneva shops… I just sighed. And sighed again;
– see Mont-Blanc. Apparently it can be seen only about thrice a year. Another sigh;
– visit the Oriental Museum. And I actually planned to go, and we woke up early on Saturday to check it out… only to find out, at the doors, that it is opened FROM 2PM on any given day (excluding days when it is closed). Really.
– Eat a fondue. I did not know it was so special in Geneva. If only I knew! I love fondue.
adieu, my fair lady.