Lake Geneva Nautical Adventures

On Twin & Solid’s second day in town, we took a boat trip around Lake Geneva.   There are multiple options for boat trips.   Since Twin is a flower lover, we selected the medieval village of Yvoire.

Image courtesy of CGN.ch

Geneva boats are operated by the CGN.   On their website, you can see the possibilities.   Our particular boat left Mt. Blanc at 10:15, stopping in Versoix, Coppet, and Nyon before crossing the lake to the French side and anchoring in Yvoire at noon.  Full fare ride to Yvoire costs about 40 CHF, but you can use your half-fare card to get a reduction.

Lake Geneva CGN boat – a few are classical steamboats like this one

Pulling away from Geneva

Approaching Nyon, Switzerland

Docking in Yvoire, France

Enjoying the flowers

Pretty window box

We had authentic French lake cuisine: filets de perche

We caught the 4:20pm boat back to Geneva.  It is the only option in the Springtime, and our visit was the last day of the Spring schedule. During the summer, there are more options for coming and going as the tourist traffic picks up.

On the way home, we had stunning views of Mt. Blanc.   It is only visible a small percentage of time, so we were lucky to get the view we did:

Mt. Blanc looks surreal in the summer….it never loses its snow

It was a lovely day with the CGN!

 

Related posts:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Monday Funday in Lausanne and Evian

The Swiss Watch Blog:    Route Blanche and the Mt Blanc Tunnel

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Yvoire, France

Gratitude Friday: Twenty Faces

This gratitude Friday goes to our visitors.   We have had a lot of people who have made the far trip  to come visit us in Europe.  Currently, we have our home full with guests.  The arrival of this last wave makes for 20 people who have come to see us in Geneva or have met us at a fun destination in Europe, all within one year.     It is a lot of fun that we get to show friends & family where we live.  So, today, I just wanted to give a shout out of gratitude of seeing familiar faces.  We know it is far and it really means a lot to us.

You can reach about the adventures of these twenty brave souls on our category “Visits & Trips with Visitors


T (before naming started)

Henry Birmingham

Andres

Ferdinand & Isabella

Pascal & Giselle

The Captain & Swiss Miss

Dunkel, Sweet Wine, Mama Mia, Gladiator,  & The French Cougar

E-dawg

Couch Surfer

Kung Foolish & Rhubarbara Streisand

Twin & Solid

Bon weekend, everyone!

Discovering Geneva: Jet Lag Prevention

When Twin and Solid arrived, they were quite weary from the overnight flight.     After we got to the apartment at 9am, I made some frittatas for energy.    Within the hour, we were off to start exploring.   You might think that this is crazy to start touring around if they were tired, but daylight is a great remedy for jet lag.  When your body grows tired, the sun tricks it into thinking it should be awake.

I have a strict “no sleeping before 7pm” rule.  Also important is diversion and numerous distraction activities.

So, how do you do this in Geneva??

We stared out by climbing Mont Salève in a cable car.  This helped because of the sunshine and the unique panorama.

Enjoying the view at The Salève

Next, we moved onto the Flower Clock in Jardin Anglais.   This was particularly interesting to the guests because of their love of gardening.

The famous Flower Clock

We strolled along the lake and admired the pianos they had sitting out for the upcoming music festival that was to happen over the weekend.   People are encouraged to spontaneously play if they wish.  We saw a tourist playing this particular one, and later saw a professional playing Top 40 music near the Molard bus stop.

One of the pianos

We then took a little mouette water boat from Eaux Vives to Paquis and enjoyed an ice cream.

Ice cream break = content travelers

Finally, we went to the Swatch museum.   I am afraid being indoors at the Swatch museum might have done them in, as we decided to return back home for a little rest.

We had intended to have a lake picnic, but the weather had another idea.   The thunderstorm chased us inside and we had an early dinner home instead before they crashed at 7pm.

Despite my best efforts, there might have been a few premature head nods and sleeping on the TPG.   I don’t condone this behavior, so future guests better watch out!!

“resting” on the bus

However, we were nice and let them sleep in the next day.  At least our cruelty enforcing the “no sleep” only stands the first day.

 

Related articles:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  The cure for jet lag

Discovering Geneva: The Salève

Just outside of Geneva, is a cliff called The Salève.   It is visible from the town and towers over the city.    It’s so close you’d think it was in Switzerland.   But, it is actually in France.

3D Map courtesy of Alps Dream

 

Many women I know have hiked the Salève.   It is a strenuous 5 hour hike and 100% of it is steps and steep climbs.  I think a lot of the time, this hike ends up on people’s “Geneva Bucket List” of things to do before they move.  It’s never been an option for me because of my feet, although ever so tempting!

 

The Salève is the big cliff overlooking Geneva

 

Good thing that there are alternative ways up.    You can drive through France.   We heard from A & A & D that this is only for people who don’t get car sick.  They may have learned this the hard way.

You can also take the little cable car up.   Since Twin & Solid were visiting, we decided to go to The Salève on the day that they landed from the US for their first ever cable car ride.  It was sunny and clear that day, which is an absolute for planning a trip to Mont Salève.

From Geneva, you can take the TPG (Bus #8 direction Veyrier Douane)  to the border, and walk across.    It is about a 10-15 minute walk and the route is decently marked.  You can also see the cable car wires looming in the air, so you have a visual reminder of which direction to walk.

At 1000m, it is a good introductory cable car compared to say, Mt. Blanc.

Enjoying the view

Panorama of Geneva from the top of Mont Salève

They have two restaurants at the top – a small chalet selling inexpensive drinks and sandwiches, as well as a fancier place.   In fact, the nicer restaurant wouldn’t let us sit on the edge if we weren’t ordering food.  So, we just sat a row inward so we could order a drinks.

Many friends have told me its nice to bring a picnic and enjoy it as you look upon Geneva.

Beyond hiking, Mont Salève is also known for more adventurous sports.  We saw a mountain biker coming up in our cable car.  We also watched this guy take off into the horizon.

Going, going, going….

….gone!

You can do the entire trip in 2-3 hours from center city Geneva.

A Page from the Swiss Rule Book: School Differences

Even though we don’t have children, over the past year, I have noticed a few minor difference in schools.

1 – Most of Switzerland doesn’t have school on Wednesday mornings.  It’s a highly debated topic, especially during the most recent elections.  Credit to my friend, C,  for finding this ad which reads, “Everyone hasn’t had the luck of going to school on Wednesday mornings.

There is no school bus.   At least not an organized one.  Most children walk there on their own or take public transportation.    However, I have seen parents waiting with children until a charter bus pulls up:

They go home for lunch.  There is no lunch room.   In fact, Swiss schoolchildren get a two hour lunch break each day to go home and eat.  It’s my theory on why its harder for women to work here.   Teenagers tend to stay out, grab something at the grocery and hang out in the parks.  However, the little ones go home.

They have lots of vaca.  In particular, Sports Week happens in February, just so families can take advantage of the good snow.  If you remember, our friends M & C had to go with the 3rd back up doctor when they delivered their baby girl because the first two were injured going with their families on Ski Week.

Do you know any more school differences?

Tivoli Gardens

When we were in Copenhagen, we visited Tivoli Gardens.    Tivoli is a classic amusement park, built in 1843.  It is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and currently the most visited.

Entering Tivoli

It is quite a fun experience.  For me, it was neat to see how the rides and amusements maintained an old timer feel….it felt special.   Another cool feature was how the amusements integrated seamlessly into nature.  The Danish are very eco-focused which definitely came through in visiting this gem.

Ride modeled after Hans Christian Anderson stories, who was from Copenhagen and lived in the colorful harbor, Nyhavn.

This hot air balloon ferris wheel was one of my favorites. Notice how green the park is.

Classic amphitheater

Enjoying Tivoli Park

Even the food huts were green – loved the flowering roofs

Lots of open green spaces. Not a lot of concrete.

Tivoli brings out your inner kid

Tivoli fountain

A lovely summer day

 

I used to love rides as a kid, but as an adult, am just as content holding coats/umbrellas/purses.  I did this while these guys rode the old timer coaster, Rutschebanen.

Waiting their turn

 

They said it was more exhilarating than planned so I was glad I just rested.  Notice how Gabe is hidden by the little orange man.

 

So glad we got to see this charming little park.

 

Gratitude Friday: Tootsie’s

This Friday, I reflect on my gratitude for continual feeling of my feet.  It’s been 4 months since my surgery.  They aren’t 100% yet, but they are a ton better.

A few advancements that I am particularly grateful for:

–I have few limitations.  I haven’t attempted hiking yet, but I am fine in walking around town and have been okay in our recent travels.   It’s nice not to have to plan the whole day around the length of time I can walk or do errands.

–I have graduated into sandals for walking short distances.  This is a big deal.  For the exception of the month I was in my special orthotic shoes, I have been wearing the same black tennis shoes for 3 months solid.    Let’s just say its a welcome change to have new options.

–I got a pedicure.  It was done by the podologue*, who I have been going to since the surgery to help with side effects, etc. of the procedure.  This last time she asked if I wanted her to add color and I gladly accepted.    Not that I get pedicures anymore (they are about 100 CHF in Geneva) but it’s been over 6 months since they’ve been painted even at home.

Bon weekend, everyone!

*Yes, this is the same lady who I tried to go to for foot surgery and she said, “I can only cut your toenails”.  I am not sure if she recognizes me from that instance.  I still haven’t confessed that I was the one who tried to get her to operate on me.

Copenhagen Cuisine & Nightlife

If you are wondering how Rhubarbara Streisand and Kung Foolish got their blog names*, look no further than our bar tab at Kung Fu II in NØrrebro.

They were appropriately named because Rhubarbara Streisand happened to be on the continent because of her job as a market manager at Purity Vodka, whose headquarters are near Malmo, Sweeden.   If you haven’t heard of it, you should.   It’s 34 times distilled and the smoothest liquor that Gabe & I have ever tried.

It’s meant for mixology – the art of science of cocktails.  Bartenders use seasonal ingredients, even herbs and spices to deliver a drink that resembles more a work of art than the type of cocktail I was used to seeing.   They also come with creative names, such as the ones we selected for our visiting friends blog names.

Rhubarbara’s colleague had recommended Kung Fu 2 to her, as they had this type of mixology.   We were a little skeptical as the name sounded like a fast food chinese place.  However, what we found couldn’t be further from the naive expectations we had.

Enjoying a drink at Kung Fu 2 / Isakaya bar

The Rhubarbara Streisand drink – amazing!! It was made with homemade rhubarb soda which was in season and accentuated the Purity.

The wasabi gimlet made with Purity. Wow.

After cocktails, we were seated at our table and we selected Omakase service.  This basically means that the chef recommends a tasting menu that is brought out slowly.   We loved all six small courses, thoroughly enjoying every one.

Kung Foolish & Rhubarbara Streisand

We’d highly recommend Kung Fu 2 and sitting in the bar area.  The barmen were incredibly experienced and they really created an enjoyable memory for our first night in Copenhagen.

The second night, we went to Radio.  It was listed as the 2nd best restaurant in Copenhagen.  Noma is the 1st and impossible to get into because it is actually also the 1st in the world since 2010 (although our friends Lady J & The Man scored a reservation at Noma).

We felt fortunate to get a table at Radio, even though it was 5:30.  Early bird special.

Radio, image courtesy of Nile Guide

The food was absolutely incredible.  Five courses of inventive Nordic cuisine, including amazing homemade bread, a salad with foam dressing, asparagus starter, fish, meat and a tasty pear dessert.  Gabe opted for a sixth, a pork belly, that came prior to dessert, and claimed it to be the best.   He is still talking about it.  Anyhow, Radio left us full and happy.

After, we walked to Salon 39, recommended by Rhubarbara’s colleague.  The barman, Michael, was a friendly chap who entertained us as we sat in the old-world style cocktail bar.  We loved watching his creative take on our request for Purity.   My favorite drink of the weekend came from this charming place, the Eucalyptus Daiquiri.

Image courtesy of Salon 39

After a round, we moved onto Ruby’s Cocktail Chronicles in the centre city.  When we arrived around 10pm, there was already a line.    The interior was really neat – it felt like we’d taken a step back into the Roaring 20′s and we enjoyed the scene while we sipped our cocktails.

Ruby’s image courtesy of worlds best bars

After a drink, we moved onto a bar by Kung Foolish’s requests – Charlie’s Bar.  He’d heard from two separate people as being the best bar in Copenhagen.  We got beers and sat next to a local and soon we were engaged in a 2 hour conversation that lasted until 2am.

Image courtesy of Flick river

It’s always fun to run into locals when enjoyed the nightlife in a city.   It really is the best part to learn about the culture and feel of a place.   This guy was really interested in why we selected Copenhagen to visit.  We explained we’d only heard good things and loved the water, the food and the progressiveness of the city.   Our conversation varied from everything to the triathlon he’d just participated in, to healthcare, to public transport, and politics.   After an enlightening evening, we said farewell, jumped into a cab and headed home.

So, Copenhagen gets a great review for food & drink.  If you head to this Nordic city, expect a happy belly.   Living in Geneva, we need to experience this every once in awhile :)

*Most everyone on our blog has a “blog name” to protect their privacy.  We started calling everyone by their first initial until Henry Birmingham asked if he could suggest a name.  Since then, we force ask everyone to come up with a name.  If they don’t, we come up with it ourselves.  For instance, Kung Foolish’s was going to be Weinerstang after this interestingly named Danish pastry:

FreeTown Christiania

I think I first heard about Christiania through one of Rick Steve’s videos.   This little area located in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen is unlike anything else in the world.

Gabe at the entrance to Christiania

It is a freetown, an autonomous village that has its own laws and governance.  About 1000 adults, 200 kids and 200 dogs live there.   You freely pass through, as this is one of the only requirements that Denmark has for their continuance that it be a public place.

Rhubarbara Streisand at the entrance to Christiania

They only have a few laws:
-no stealing
-no violence
-no hard drugs
-no weapons

Also, if you walk down Pusher Street, they add a few:  no photos and no running.   Once you walk around and notice that everyone is in their own ‘state’, you understand how someone running would upset the mental order.

Image courtesy of Zen Aida – I was too afraid to take photos of even the no photo sign

You might be asking yourself how this came about?   In 1971, squatters took over this area which was previously military.  Back then, the area was quite a seedy place and land values are low.

A view of Christiania residents enjoying the water from our canal tour the day prior.  I didn’t take a photo of the guy  sunbathing in the nude on the dock prior. 

However, it has become quite controversial recently now that the area has become trendy and all the nearby buildings are being refurbished and sold for big buckaroos.   I heard its on the brink and that it would soon likely become extinct.  Thus, I really wanted to visit.

Christiania is located in the green area that forms the triangles.  Image courtesy of ehrasmussentrip.blogspot.com

This was an old boat house and now is condos, just opposite of Christiania. Image courtesy of arc house.

Boat houses converted to modern office spaces, across from Christiania. Image courtesy of Flick River

I was glad we checked it out.   It was interesting how the residents of Christiania have formed their own utopia.   However, it made me realize how important social norms are in establishing what feels like a utopia.   To these folks, this free society was heaven on earth.   For me, I was bothered by the trash and walking down Pusher Street so it was foreign to my concept of a home.

To each his own.

 

Related links:

Rick Steve’s Copenhagen / Christiania video (starts at 1:05) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v57JVVD6-ag

 

 

Colorful Copenhagen

This weekend, we met up with Kung Foolish and Rhubarbara Streisand in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is in Denmark.   We like cities on the water, and Copenhagen fell into this category.

Image courtesy of Nation Master

I think the coolest thing about the city is how the water was integrated into day-to-day life.   Copenhagen just isn’t on the water, life there is all about the water.

Our canal tour leaving from colorful Nyhavn harbor

Pulling out of Nyhavn, all the locals were enjoying a beautiful summer day, sitting on the sides of the harbor drinking beers (mostly BYOB or out of vending machines)

A few of the naval museums.  Including a ship (left) and a submarine (right).  Being on the water, the Danish navy presence had to be big.

Armory / naval building

Ship pulling out of the harbor

This guy isn’t afraid of the frigid water

There were many boat bars and waterfront bars. We enjoyed a round at Badlejing.

Also what was neat is to see the blending of architecture, old and new.  The Danish are very progressive and very green.    Their modern buildings were balanced quite well with their historical sites.

The Opera House

View into the centre of town at the old architecture of Amalienborg Palace

Beautiful modern buildings juxtaposed with classic Danish buildings

Classic architecture in the centre town

Looking down Straegrade street at the pastel buildings

I am a sucker for colorful buildings.

Enjoying the beauty of the architecture in Nyhavn harbor

Beyond the water and the architecture, we really enjoyed the food & nightlife.  But we’ll save that for tomorrow.

Related links:

Schwingen in Switzerland: Danish Bike Culture & My Fanboys Experience

Schwingen in Switzerland: Something was rotten in the state of Denmark…It was Us