jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 56 [26 Mar 09] – Geneva

Posted in Geneva by jn82 on March 26, 2009

I initially only intended to spend two nights in Geneva, but upon reaching the hostel on the first day and seeing what a nice place it was to relax, we decided to extend our stay in geneva by a night, and spend the third day (today) doing nothing at all in the room.

The summary of my day is instant noodles for lunch and dinner and watching half a season worth of CSI Miami online. Good rest day! Off to Interlaken via the Golden Pass scenic train route tomorrow.


Day 55 [25 Mar 09] – Geneva

Posted in Geneva by jn82 on March 25, 2009

Woke up pretty late today and only set out at lunch time. This is the first day of semi-rest, with the second and full day of rest being tomorrow. Pretty simple itinerary today, just to see the International Red Cross Museum and the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The good thing about visiting Geneva is that tourists get a free public transport pass which is valid on all busses, trams and even trains! We caught the tram to Musee International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge (International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum), and paid the 5€ reduced entry fee to go in. The permernant exhibition gives you the history of the organisation from the time of its founding to modern day, as well as the role of the Red Cross during war time and peace time. I had not read up on the organisation prior to this, so everything in the exhibition was new and pretty interesting. It is the Red Cross which was responsible for the original Geneva Convention being drafted, and the work that the organisation does is very admirable as they do not discriminate between political beliefs, race or religion.

The original Geneva Convention.

14 medals and the first Nobel Peace Prize belonging to Jean Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross.

World War I POW records.

Freaky exhibit at the entrance.

The next stop of the day was to UNOG, The United Nations Office at Geneva. The security check took some time, but it did result in me getting a pretty cool visitor pass to keep.

UNOG Visitor Pass.

An interesting thing I found out today about the UN is that they have their own postal service (and stamps), what for I have no idea.

UN post box.

Typical UN conference room.

Assembly Hall, the largest room in Palais des Nations.

The Council Chamber, unchanged since the 1930s when it was used by the League of Nations.

The UNOG tour provided us with the history and the purpose of the UN, and brought us to many of the rooms where conference were held and delegates met and voted on issues concerning the international community.

Outside the UNOG.

It was a pretty different day today, spent at these international organisations, which are non-traditional tourist sites. But I guess the most logical place for these organisations to have their headquarters (or one of their HQs) would be in one of the world’s most international cities.

On another note, food is insanely expensive here. Walking into the mini-mart opposite the hostel before lunch, I found one packet of normal instant noodles which cost 5.50 CHF (around S$7)!! This is as normal an instant noodle packet as you will ever find, and it was not even a Nissin or Maggi. You cannot have a decent meal here for under 15 CHF (~S$20), and even a McDonalds quarter pounder meal will set you back around 12 CHF (~S$16)!! Ridiculous. As a sign of protest, for dinner I cooked in the hostel. I had two packets of Nissin instant noodles, some corn and fishballs purchased from a Viet and Thai shop nearby for around 5 CHF (~S$7). This is a meal I have had many a time during uni days, and will probably do so tomorrow for lunch and/or dinner as well. Other than that, I am looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow where I will do almost nothing!

Today’s pictures here.

Day 54 [24 Mar 09] – Geneva

Posted in Geneva by jn82 on March 25, 2009

After a very good couchette sleeper train ride from Rome to Geneva, we got into Geneva on time at 9.25am. After making reservations for the Golden Pass Panoramic train ride from Montreaux to Interlaken (which we will be on in three days time), we headed to the hostel to drop our bags. Usually in every city we are in, the area around the train station is pretty rough with a lot of coloured peopleand homeless people hanging around, but in Geneva, there was nothing of that sort! Just 10m from the train station was a huge Credit Suisse bank branch, which was pretty funny.

The hostel itself is amazing, compared to what we had in Rome and even Naples. It is very modern, clean and spacious. Here we have a twin dorm, so ample privacy and good for rest, which is what we need after Italy. Anyway we dumped our bags, and then headed out to the old city (Vieille Ville) to walk around. Geneva does not have that many large tourist attractions, which is good for us as that means less sightseeing and more time just to see the city itself.

Spotted outside the Four Seasons, a Bugatti Veyron.

This has been an amazing trip thus far, car spotting wise. After catching the Ferrari Enzo in London, and the tons of super cars in Monte Carlo, I was lucky enough to find what is probably the super car of super cars right now, the Bugatti Veyron.

Anyway, after this we headed to the flower clock, which as the name suggests, is just a big clock with a face made of flowers. Throughout the year, the clock face changes as different flowers are planted to form the face. It supposedly keeps perfect times, obviously you will accept nothing less from the city of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin, to name a few.

The Flower Clock.

Walking through Geneva’s old city is similar to most European old cities, except that is it not. All the buildings here, while old, look extremely well preserved and clean. That is the main thing about Geneva, that everything is so clean, and there are very few questionable people hanging around the streets and appearing as if they could mug you in an instant.

The clean streets of Geneva.

Flags of the UN, Switzerland and Geneva, outside Hôtel de Ville.

We spent most of the afternoon at the Patek Philippe museum, having a look at time pieces from the 17th – 19th century. It was a very interesting afternoon indeed, looking at all these ancient masterpieces.

Outside the museum.

After the museum, we headed to St. Pierre Cathedral. Not very sure what the thing about this place is, but it is one of the main tourist sites of the city. We got there a bit late, so were unable to go to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the city. The interior appeared like any other European cathedral we have seen so far.

Exterior of St. Pierre Cathedral.

The interior.

Walking back to the hostel from the old city, we saw the Jet d’eau, a water fountain of sorts which sends a steam of water from Lake Geneva 140m high into the sky at a speed of 200 km/h. The technology behind this had been a secret until the Saudi’s managed to acquire it a few years ago. The Jet d’eau is supposed to be continuously operational throughout the day, but it was pretty intermittent today, and we were told that perhaps there might have been a technical fault with it. This is a really weird tourist attraction as all it does is shoot water from the lake really high into the sky!

Jet d’eau.

Dinner was pretty expensive, but always wanting to try the local cuisine, we opted to have some traditional Swiss fare.

Entrée: La Raclette.

Main: Fondue Bourguignonne.

Geneva, what an amazing city!

Today’s pictures here.

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