Geneva (and other travel) musings

I haven't posted in here for a while. The LJ outage contributed, but really I've just made myself very busy! I spent two weeks in Switzerland, and then had a very busy birthday week.

In Geneva, I stayed at two different hotels: Mon-Repos which was a fancier hotel than the Bernina. Both were Swiss Quality hotels — both 3 star hotels but the Bernina is a budget accomodation, whereas Mon-Repos is more suited to business travelers. Both bookings included breakfast which was generally well worth it, both provided city-wide bus passes and both were constructed in the 1930s (1930 and 1932 respectively). Where things differ is that Mon-Repos was much more recently renovated (in fact that room had motion detectors for the bathroom lights among other fancier aspects). Mon-Repos also had umbrellas to borrow, I ended up with a room meant for two rather than for one (at the same price!) and gave me a free massage on my second night there. The Bernina was a bit more utilitarian but it offered free wifi in my room rather than just in the lobby. The Bernina was also located right across from the train station rather than closer to the UN offices, though both were really centrally located.

As for the trip itself — I had a ton of fun! Kiwanis convention was busy but pretty excellent. Jamie Lee Curtis was an amazing speaker, and Jane Goodall was well worth hearing as well. Other noteworthy aspects were the welcome reception food, and seeing friends from all over the world!

But the city of Geneva itself was pretty great in its own right — expensive though. An average meal at a restaurant was around 20-30 CHF and with exchange rates at 1.2 Cdn to 1 CHF, that makes it rather pricey. But still I had some great eats: lots of cheese and chocolate and some other great things too, like fresh squeezed lemonade with mint leaves.

I saw some pretty noteworthy sites including the lake, the jet d'eau, the UN buildings, the Patek Philippe watch museum, the Cathedral (in particular the archeological museum!!), the Maison Tavel, the scientific instruments museumf, the botanical gardens and CERN among other locations of note within Geneva itself.

I also visited Annecy, France on an afternoon excursion (included in my first hotel booking), which allowed me to visit a castle, and otherwise take in sights in a big group setting. I much prefer smaller tour groups and/or exploring on my own (or with friends/family) than being shepherded around with so many others, but it was a neat way to visit the prison in that town among other things.

And I went to the Chateau Chillon which was totally impressive and the Montreux Jazz Festival to see Black Dub and Lamb! (I left three songs into Mogwai as they were kind of meh, and I wanted to get back to Geneva).

On another day, I returned to Montreux and the Jazz Festival and took the Chocolate Train to Gruyeres, Broc and through the countryside. I adored the chocolate and cheese there — and brought home a fair bit of chocolate as a result.

I would definitely like to return to Switzerland — all my experiences there have been great on a whole. Things I liked about Geneva especially:
– The cheese and chocolate
– The restaurant Les Armures
– The history
– The outdoor flea market at PlainPalais
– The free wifi in public parks
– The free bus pass and the public transit on a whole
– Awesome train system
– Great walking paths
– FABULOUS ice cream!
– Good food available at train station and airport
– And so much more!

Downsides to Geneva:
– cost of food
– prices in general
– exchange rates aren't great
– occasional racism
– smokers
– paying for tap water at restaurants

Overall I was impressed. The Montreux Jazz Festival was much smaller than I expected, but still awesome. Generally it was a wonderful trip! 🙂