Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Geneva, Switzerland

First of all, let me say that this blog post about Geneva is coming from the biased opinion of a poor 20-something. If you are a real life adult (opposed to a fake life adult like me), making a real life salary (again, I don't), you might truly enjoy Geneva.


Literally, the highlight of my time in Geneva was the fact that McDonalds there sells Toblerone McFlurries.  Not to downplay the awesomeness of a Toblerone McFlurry, of course.  Because that is still pretty awesome..am I right?!

YUMMMM Toblerone McFlurry!!! The Ovomaltine McFlurry is also delightful in case anyone was wondering...

Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc which is pretty comparable to the Euro.  I should've known I was in trouble when I changed out my money and they gave me a 200 swissfranc bill.  My thought was, "Man, I hope people have enough money to break this"...little did I know how fast that money would go!

We stayed at City Hostel which I recommend to anyone who, after reading this post, still attempts to travel to Geneva on a budget.  The hostel is very well maintained and they have a free movie playing every night in the lobby.  We actually bonded with another group of American 20-somethings who, like us, could not afford to go out for drinks in Geneva.  When a light beer is 8 francs, suddenly, "Erin Brockovich" at the hostel for free sounds like a great option.

Anyway, I will stop harping on the things that we couldn't do and start showing you the things we DID do.  Thankfully, Geneva has a great tram system that was FREE with the city transport card our hostel gave us.  These are the places we saw in the city.

The famous Jet d'Eau spouts 137 gallons of water per second to a height of 459 feet! At any given moment, there are about 1,849 gallons of water in the air!

Beautiful tree with the St. Pierre Cathedral in the background.  The cathedral is located in Geneva's lovely Old Town and is best known for being the adopted home church of John Calvin.

Christmas time in Geneva!

BIG OL' CHAIR! This Broken Chair is a monument right outside the United Nations to symbolize opposition to land mines and cluster bombs.

My head and the United Nations

I'm kind of a big deal

There are always protesters in the square outside of the United Nations.  These people wanted this guy to go free from jail.  If I understood French then I would be able to give you more details. Lo siento.

Okay, that is easy enough to understand..

The day we left there was the Escalade festival in Geneva which celebrates Geneva's victory in some battle.  Legend goes that a lady poured scalding soup on the head of an attacker which alerted the rest of the city they were under attack.  They celebrate every year with these elaborate chocolate cauldrons! Almost too pretty to eat..almost...

Apparently another aspect of the festival is that the youth of the town go absolutely NUTSSSSS. We came to this square in the morning to see the "life-size chess games" (which were far from life size) but we got this scene instead.  You can still see some revelers in the background...

The Reformation Wall!  The studs on this wall are William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox. Holler to my Protestantsss!!

View of Geneva from the cathedral in the old town

The famous flower clock that symbolizes what the Swiss do best!

Pretty sculpture and tree in a park.

There is also a Red Cross Museum which, unfortunately, was closed for renovations while we were there.  After seeing the sights in Geneva we decided to get the heck out of town and have a true Swiss experience complete with mountains, chocolate and Christmas markets.  We got on the train and went to Montreaux, Switzerland.  I would not recommend Geneva to most people in my age group, but I would DEFINITELY recommend Montreaux.  Especially during Christmas!  Montreux was filled with little booths selling Christmas items, mulled wine (which tasted like grape Four Loko to me..BLECH), hot chestnuts, and, of course, delicious Swiss chocolate!  There was a ferris wheel overlooking the Alps and even a gospel choir singing traditional songs in English and French.  It was truly an incredible Christmas experience.

View of the mountains and Lake Geneva from the Christmas Market at Montreux.


I couldn't stop taking pictures of the beautiful scenery!

Fun little bushes.

Now this is how you roast chestnuts!

Freddy Mercury

Freddie Mercury loved Montreux and had a house here.  Many Queen songs were recorded at a studio in Montreux.  He told his friends, "If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux."  I agree, Freddie!

Another fun little tidbit:  The band Deep Purple was recording an album in Montreux at the same time a Frank Zappa concert was being held at a casino there.  An audience member fired a flare gun into the ceiling, causing a fire that burned down the entire building.  The song "Smoke on the Water" was inspired by the smoke from the burning casino spreading out over Lave Geneva as witnessed by the members of Deep Purple.  Pretty cool, eh?

I will forever envision this picture when I think of Switzerland.

On a ferris wheel overlooking the Alps.  A pretty amazing experience!
From the Christmas Market, we jumped on a bus to the Chateau Chillon which is a beautifully picturesque little castle located on an outcropping of land on Lake Geneva.  It is firsted referenced in history in 1150, so this place is old.  Lord Byron wrote about the castle in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon" and Henry James writes about it in Daisy Miller. (Shout out to my English majors).  We went expecting a castle that had been turned into a museum, which is what most castles in Europe are now.  However, we got a lovely surprise upon entering.  Inside the castle was a live demonstration of what life during the old days was like!  Almost like a mini Renaissance festival.  And I LOVE Renaissance festivals so I was THRILLED!

Obviously not taken by me, but I just want you to get a feel of how beautiful this castle is!! (taken by J. Miguel Roncero)

Chateau Chillon

There was a petting zoo in which I met the chillest, fattest chicken that ever existed.
Typical scene from the olden days inside the castle!

There were people making pottery, weapons and such

View from above

Wouldn't mind being a soldier if this is the view I had every day!


Lake Geneva at dusk!

In conclusion, Switzerland was a beautiful place.  If you have a hankering to go to this country, I would suggest purchasing a Swiss Rail pass and seeing the country that way.  The trains are famous for their punctuality but they should also be famous for being crazy expensive.  A rail pass is a good way to see the beauty of the country and not pay an arm and a leg for trains in between cities like Montreux and Geneva.  (A 1 hour train ride between the two cities cost us about 70 swiss franc round trip!!!)  I want to return to Switzerland one day and have a true Alpine experience.  Unfortunately, until I have enough money to open up a Swiss bank account, I don't see that happening!  Geneva was meh, but Montreux was great.  If it's good enough for Freddie, it's good enough for me!  My next post will be about Christmas in Andalucia (Cordoba, Granada and Sevilla).  Thanks for reading! Adios, y'all!


  1. After every one of these posts I think, "she couldn't top this one"...and then you do! LOVE these postings!!! Keep them coming! Love you too! :)

  2. I've always known the line, "some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground", but now I know - the rest of the story. And how cool is that Freddie statue? I see a little silhouetto of a man... Beautiful pictures. Looks like a wonderful trip.