I walked the wrong way to my hostel for about 20 minutes before figuring out that the lake was supposed to be on my right. So, after about an hour, I found my hostel.
Geneva Youth Hostel
It was a large hotel-like hostel with a giant lobby and tons of kids on their computers and phones (the only place that got wifi). I got the keys and sheets to my room and headed up. I put all my stuff on the bed and then went to put my bag in the locker before exploring. Turns out… someones stuff was already in the locker. Not to self and others: Check locker before you unload everything onto the bed. I went down to the lobby and got it sorted out – Moved 2 beds down. It was a 6 bed female dorm.
It was late so I just spent a little bit of time on the computer before going to sleep.
I got up the next morning and had the continental breakfast. I was a bit late waking up so I had to go down in my pajamas. Oh well. The breakfast was delicious. Two kinds of yogurt, toast with Four kinds of jam, cereal, granola, apples, and the option of juice, coffee, and hot chocolate (all if you preferred).
I ate, showered, got ready, and headed out for the day.
I was really looking forward to the United Nations. I asked the front desk how to get there and it was just a simple 10 minute tram ride. I walked up to the main street (that I had been so lost on before) and found it. Number 15 to ‘Nations’. When I got off I took a few pictures of the 3-legged chair and then headed over to the entrance. Well… it was what I thought to be the entrance… apparently only if you are a diplomat or show up in a shiny town car… I was directed to walk up around the block to the other side – only about a 5 minute speed-walk though. A little confusing at first. When I got there there was a bit of a line. Not too bad in comparison to some of the other sights I have been to on this trip. I waited about an hour and then went through security. We got our very own printed plastic identity cards with pictures. Fancy. But it stretches your photo and I look about 300 lbs… crap. Or maybe I have just eaten too many chocolate croissants on this trip?
Inside we waited for our English tour in a nice waiting room. There were photos of beautiful animals, including an elephant, as well as some great facts under each one. It was in celebration of World Wildlife Day (though I think every day should be that day). I wandered through the gift shop and found a great UN Geneva hoodie. It was a little bit expensive but I figured if it was going to an organization that celebrates World Wildlife Day then they deserved my money.
The tour was great. Each room was more grand than the last and I loved to see all of the seats with the countries. I tried to find Canada every time but was only successful once from my angle.
I was truly inspired by all of the work done in this building. I asked where the environmental and animal rights came into play, referring back to the lobby. Apparently that department is in Kenya… I mean… I want to fight for animals… But I want to live long enough to do so… So maybe I’ll find a way closer to home.
Red Cr…no? ok.
I walked across the street in search of the Red Cross museum. I found a cafeteria that had 12 Frank meals. Pretty decent price from what I had seen on Menus. I decided to stop and grab some food. I had rice, broccoli, vegetarian spring rolls, and some plain pasta. It was pretty good actually!
I then went downstairs and followed signs to the “Red Cross Musee”. Ah! The gates. Closed? Yup… Closed on mondays. Crap.
Ok.. well I will go check out CERN instead, even though that was for tomorrow.
CERN was pretty easy to find. It was the terminus at another tram so I just followed the map from the 15 Nations back to the train station and onto the 18 CERN.
When I got there I went up to reception and asked how much a tour was. FREE! What? That is awesome! A breath of fresh air in a city that is said to be extremely expensive. How do I get on the tour?
No more tours today.
How do I get on one tomorrow?
You have to book online and in advance… Full for the week.
However, if I show up around 10am tomorrow I can get on the waiting list for the 11:00 tour in case someone doesn’t show up.
So… now that those two plans fell through… I guess I’ll head back to the hostel for a bit.
As lonely as the Geneva Jet d’Eau
I went up to my room to grab my charger. An attractive guy got in the elevator with me. He got off at the 3rd floor.
I got my stuff and got back in the elevator. It stopped on the 3rd floor and the same attractive guy got on.
He commented on my UN sweater and I said I recommended going… It was a riveting conversation. Then he was gone.
I charged my phone for a bit, checked Facebook, and then decided to walk down to the lake.
I walked back and forth along the boardwalk. There must have been a carnival the night before because it was dirty and they were taking apart some rides. I took a few pictures of the Jet d’Eau and then decided I’d rather curl up with my computer and maybe grab a bite to eat.
An Aussie with dinner, please and thank you.
I made it back to the hostel and there, low and behold, was the guy from the elevator. I sat down next to him and said ‘Hi’. He had just gotten back from exploring the town and found the reformation wall. I should have asked him where he was going earlier because I had wanted to see that… Ok.. maybe I also wish I had asked him because, turns out, he has an australian accent. Straight out of Melbourne. Drool. (How awkward is it going to be when he reads this blog… as I have him on Facebook now. haha. Oh well, honestly is the best practice)
I asked him if he knew anywhere to eat here that wouldn’t cost me my life savings. He was planning on going to an Irish pub and suggested we go together. Perfect.
We headed over, finally told each other our names (world, meet Josh), and then he bought me a cider. We chatted for a while at the bar when another guy came over. He was from Canada as well and had overheard our conversation about Banff being the STD capitol of Canada (nice convo with a hot stranger eh?). He joined us.
We finished our drinks and then decided the food there was not what we were looking for. We wandered the street for a good while before finally finding a decently priced restaurant (for Switzerland). Their Margarita pizza was the cheapest thing on the menu… 16 Franks… I kid you not. So… Guess what I ordered?
We had a really great dinner and my pizza was actually delicious. They also gave us a basket of bread and free tap water! Boy had I missed that ‘luxury’. We then headed back to the hostel, biding farewell and exchanging Facebook names with our new Canadian friend, John.
When we got back to the hostel we sat in the lobby for a while with internet and googled the size of Canada vs the size of Australia, surfing in portugal, and my blog (which is how I know he will see this. Hey Josh, just consider me blushing). I wanted to stay up and listen to his accent all night long but I feared I would fall asleep on his feet.
We said goodnight and made plans to meet for breakfast at 8:45am.
Plans? What plans
I had a rough sleep. The girls in my room were snoring and then yelling at each other for snoring, and then sighing, and then knocking, etc. But I managed to drag myself out of bed in the morning.
I met Josh for breakfast and there was a huge line. We waited for a while and finally got our food. I had to eat pretty quickly if I was going to make it to CERN by 10:00am. He had been to CERN yesterday and was going to the UN today. Opposite schedules :(. We figured by the time I was done my CERN tour and he was done bringing his bag to the airport lockers and then doing the UN tour we may be at the Red Cross museum at the same time. Looking forward to it.
I ran upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and sprinted for the train. It was close but I made it. When I got to CERN and went to put my name on the waiting list I was informed there were 9 people ahead of me and would have no chance. If I wanted to I could put my name down for the 1:00pm one and come back then. Well… this would certainly interfere with my Red Cross museum date… but… I did really want to see CERN.
I figured in the meantime I could go to the UN, pull Josh out of line, and then we could see the museum together and go our separate ways after that. However… When I got to the UN he was nowhere to be found. Crap.
Red Cross Museum
I decided to go to the Red Cross museum alone. I was disappointed that I may never see him again and that I had to walk around alone again, but I had been looking forward to seeing this place in particular.
I got my ticket and was told it should only take an hour to get through it with the audio guide (which came free with the ticket). Perfect. That was exactly the right amount of time until I had to leave for CERN again.
The audio guide talks automatically when you walk past certain areas. If you want more information on the items you can type in their number. It was very neat. There were 3 areas to choose from to do in any order. I am so very creative and like to consider myself different from others so… just kidding… I went clockwise… in order… Sorry to disappoint.
It was interactive and had many rooms within the areas. My favourite part was when I got to listen to devastating stories by victims of disasters (not kidding). The stories were so real that it really helped me get into the museum mood. It was also neat because they started talking when you put your hand up to theirs on the life-sized screen.
I made my way around and listened to the audio recording for every single object. It was a really interesting museum. Nothing I had seen before.
One hour later I was out. I took one last look for Josh without luck and then ran for the tram to CERN.
I made it just in time for the next tour and, to my luck, they let some of the waiting list in. Score! We got taken over to the main control area. It had some huge screens with cameras of the underground proton accelerator. The man talked all about the science behind it and the mechanics and… ok… who am I kidding. I had no freaking idea what he was talking about. He was using words I had never heard in my life and explaining the actual physics behind what they do there. Not only that but he was an asian guy with a french accent. I really just stared blankly at him and tried to figure out what the pictures were even of.
We then went upstairs to a boardroom where we got to watch a 3D movie on how the whole thing came to be. It was pretty cool actually, and the movie used more layman’s terms.
After that I started to talk to a kid that looked like he was hanging on every word. I thought he might be a physicist himself, in which case it would be really cool that he got to come here. Turns out he is a computer science major but just really interested in CERN. He was from Cali. Actually… when he asked If I was from the states I said, “No, Canada”. You want to know what his answer was? “Oh, well pretty much the same thing”. Hahahaha. How American of him. “No”, I told him, “not pretty much the same thing”. I love Americans and have dated a few and have many friends that live there… but… I would not consider Canada to be “pretty much the same thing”, and nor would any other Canadian. Especially when traveling. Canadians, and even some Americans, wear Canadian flags on their backpacks so they are treated better than they would be if they were thought of as American. It is just a well known fact. Like I said, I love Americans, but we are not “pretty much the same thing”.
Anyway. Just a little laugh for the Canadians here. Back to the story.
We went over to an area where pregnant woman and children under 16 were not allowed. It was the very first proton accelerator and may still have traces of radiation (don’t worry mom, the guy wore his radiation detector and when we left it still read zero. It was just a legal precaution). It was actually really cool and they had a very impressive multi-media show that explained the very beginning of CERN,the founders, and how they put together this very first machine.
Finally the tour came to an end. I got a postcard that when you tilt it back and forth it shows protons colliding (cause I’m more of a child than a nerd) and caught the train back.
Laundry and Rest
Yup! That’s right! It’s that time again! LAUNDRY TIME. Laundry time is a special time because I greatly look forward to it and yet it never goes smoothly. This time was no different.
I went to put my laundry in the wash and brought along a few coins. Nope. You needed a laundry card. Ok, no problem. Ill go to the front desk.
When I asked for a laundry card they put it on the desk and politely said 13 franks. Wait.. excuse me? Yes. 13 franks for the laundry card. So… Can I do like… 10 washes? Nope. this was good for one wash and one dry… Ok. “But”, the receptions said, “if you bring back the card you get 5 franks back”. Oh well that is a relief… only 8 franks to do one load of wash! WHERE AM I?!
Fine. I give her my entire left leg in exchange for the laundry card and then went to start the load.
I went to wait in the computer area and work on my Liebster Award questions and nominations. Then, to my surprise, Josh comes and says hi! He had not yet left for Zurich. He had made a new friend on his tour and they were now just hanging out in the lobby. He said they had waited for me at the Red Cross museum for a bit. I felt so bad and explained what had happened and that I had gone to look for him. Big loss. This girl hit the jackpot. Haha.
We all sat together for a while and chatted and I looked up my hostel for Barcelona (which I realized I had not yet booked and needed for the next night) until my wash was done.
They watched my stuff and I went to move it over.
Did that go smoothly? Of course not. When I put my clothes in the dryer and went to put the card in it said the card was empty… EMPTY?! I JUST PAID 13 FRIGGEN FRANKS FOR IT. I brought it back up to the reception, waited in line., and asked them what to do. The lady followed me down the the laundry and tried for herself. Nope. The card was rejected (yea… like I told you). She led me back to reception and the other lady came down with her own card. That worked. I returned my useless card and got my 5 Franks back before I forgot. I did need to eat the next day.
I went back to my computer and chatted with Josh and the other Australian girl for a bit until he left.
I always have a title “Wandering ____”. I don’t really know what else to call it. It just accounts for those times that I just… wander… in the city I am staying in…
I figured I should go find this “reformation wall”. It was on the top 10 list for Geneva and Josh had seen it already and said it was nice.
I wandered back down to the lake and started to walk. I was told to cross two bridges to get there. I saw one that looked really nice. It had vines and gardens hanging off of it and had a little park off to the side of it. I walked that way. There were a ton of geese and ducks and swans hanging out waiting for bread to fall off. I got a few pictures and kept walking.
I looked at a tourist map on the other side but saw nothing that resembled the words “reformation” or “wall”. I decided to just wander over to the area that had the most touristy numbers by it. I walked up a set of stairs and ran into the basilica. St. Pierre I believe? It was old and not as fancy as the other towns I had been to but it was still very nice.
I then walked over to the next tourist sign to see what was up ahead. There was a guy observing it very closely as well. I asked if he spoke English. He did. He was just as lost as I was. We decided to take on the adventure together.
He was from Barcelona. He owned a bar there but was a movie producer when there was work. He was just here on vacation alone for a week.
We wandered towards a big green area that was on the map and came up to a ledge with a beautiful park down below. The university was there and so were some cool giant chess boards. We decided to head down. We passed the art museum and a few nice monuments on the way. When we entered the park there was a wonderful tree lined path. I love roads and paths that have a canopy over them. We walked down it, took some pictures, and my new friend shot a few videos of people juggling. We also admired a meditation circle and watched a dance lesson going on. When we strayed to the left a bit we came
past the chess sets. What was past the chest sets? THE REFORMATION WALL! Finally. I had found it! And it was pretty cool. I mean, not like hang out and admire for hours cool, but if you are ever out for a stroll in Geneva I would recommend trying to find it (hint: it’s in the park by the university and art museum).
We found our way back to the other side of the bridge (I only crossed one ever… so where that second bridge is I will never know) and said goodnight. Looking back, I never got his name. But thank you Spanish stranger for the company!
I got back to the hostel and organized my bags. I wanted to be ready so I had no stress in the morning. I spent some time on my computer before bed, got a message from Josh that he was in Zurich and a guy wanted to take him out for a drink at the train station. I told him that I did not blame the guy (blush #2). Then I headed to bed.
Hostel Dorm-Room Etiquette
Ok, I am going to break down a story for you. Something to keep in mind if you are every staying in a Dorm.
If you get in late – and by late I mean after 10:30pm as is posted on the door with the ‘hush’ symbol’: GET READY OUTSIDE.
So, this girl came intp the room at 11:30. She climbs up onto her bed and turns her bed lamp on. This, of course, illuminates the room. We kind of all sigh and cover our faces (the other 5 beds of us already sleeping). She then climbs down and goes out into the hall leaving the door open (more light). She is gone for a few minutes before dragging her bag into the room and onto the floor. Here she unzips it, ruffles through it, pulls out clothes, refolds clothes, changes into her pajamas, re-zips her bag, drags it back out to the hallway (leaving the door open), bangs it into the lockers on the wall) and then comes back in and slams the door behind her. She climb up into her bed with one bag. I hear her making her bed (Note: When I came in late, I just crawled into bed and put the sheet over me as to not wake people up by organizing my sheets, tucking things in, switching sides, re-tucking things in, etc). Once she was settled I heard her unzip her bag. She then proceeded to open, apply, and close what sounded like a very intense night-cream regime. At least 5 bottles were opened (I could just hear the lids). The lady in the bed beside me was fuming. She was probably 60 and has been trying to sleep since before I came in. She starts yelling at the new girl in french. The girl clearly didn’t understand and just said “one minute, one minute”. After about another 5 minutes of her shuffling around and the lady looking like she might cry, I spoke up. Politely, I ask if she is almost finished with the light and if she has more to do could she please get ready in the bathroom. She finally agrees and turns the light off. A sigh of relief fills the room. It had been 35 minutes.
So. GET READY BEFORE YOU COME INTO A DORM-STYLE ROOM. That is all.
Geneva to Barcelona
The next morning I got up, got ready, had breakfast, threw my poncho OVER me and my backpack and bags, since there was a torrential downpour, and walked to the train. It was a bus to a train to another train.
No breakdown here, just some instances:
Interesting Fact –
I met a very nice guy from Paris, Nicolas. He was coming back from an extensive 2 week trip. He hit most of the major cities I had hit and more, and only in 2 weeks! He must have been busy.
I don’t think his friend spoke much English but he was pretty good. We chatted for a good amount of time, added each other on Facebook, and went over the best places in Paris.
We inevitably started talking about the French in Canada vs the French in France. His sister was from France but lived for a few years in Quebec. He said it was very interesting to them how ‘French’ they were. In France, I guess, they leave movie titles in English and still have “STOP” signs. In Quebec, however, everything is translated. I explained to him that it was likely because Quebec tries so very very hard to assert their heritage and language, so much so that English is not readily accepted. I was surprised that France was not this way. I told him that if you spoke English in most of the towns in Quebec you would be ignored or they would get angry. I guess most of France is not like this.
I mean, I knew Quebec was all ‘french-like’ and rebelled against English, but if France itself does not even change its movie posters and stop signs, isn’t that a little extreme? Anyway. Just an interesting little tidbit of info. I was scared to visit France because of Quebec and my strictly English tongue, but maybe it will be more pleasant than I thought 🙂
I think I figured out why 90% of Europeans smoke (I made that number up based on what I see here every day). Seniors, parents, teenagers, kids. I have seen people from age 10 to 80 with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth.
My observation is this: On the trains from Geneva to Barcelona I have seen 3 kids over the age of 4 with soothers in their mouths. One looks like she may even be about 6. Now, it could just be a strange coincidence… but, that is a few kids who have soothers WAY past due. Could it be that this crop of parents not weening their kids off of soothers is actually breeding people that have oral fixations into their older years? Oral fixation = pick up smoking much easier and willingly? Just a thought…
I just witnessed the strangest thing… There was a family on the seats next to me. A dad, mom and baby. Some guys got onto the train and had tickets for those seats.
(Note: Some of the trains need reservations from certain stops so it is a strange system that leaves people without reservations (walk-ons who paid at the station) jumping from seat to seat.)
The people with the tickets asked for their seats. The Dad of the family told them to sit in another seat. The guys said they would but if people came with tickets to those seats they wanted their real ones. The dad did not seem to like this idea and he reluctantly switched to those other seats. Then, the man who’s seat that was came onto the train and asked for his spot. The dad was pissed (not sure why… it was not his seat). He said that he would NOT move and the other guy could find another seat. The man was very polite and asked again. Then the dad got angry and said that he was french and would not continue to speak in English. Luckily the man who owned the seat knew some french. In the end though, the french dad did not move and the other guy found another seat… for now.
I mean… this may be going out on a limb… but… maybe this is why people don’t get along with the french? (Multiple strangers have complained about this to me in Europe). I guess it is not just in Canada?
Anyway… nap time! Almost to Barcelona.
Geneva (2 days)
- Jet d’Eau @ the lake
- Old Town
- Saint Pierre Cathedral
- International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
- Palais des Nations – United Nations
- Place du Molard
- Reformation Wall
- English Garden