Discovering Geneva: The Patek Philippe Museum

As I mentioned in a previous post, Geneva benefitted significantly when well-educated, skilled tradesmen found refuge in the city during the Reformation.  One such way is in timepieces, most importantly, the wristwatch.   Due to John Calvin’s strict hold on the city, he did not appreciate any luxurious items being created just for luxury’s sake (for more on this, read about Old Town and the Cathedral).  So, those goldsmiths and silversmiths had to find some practical activity in which to dedicate their talents.  Keeping time was practical.  Thus, how Geneva became known for the wrist watch.

Everyone wants a Swiss wrist watch.  They are known for their exquisite detail, design and reliability.  And, you can’t walk very far in Geneva without hitting a store selling them.  However, don’t get excited about buying a Swiss watch when you visit us.  With the exchange rate and price of goods in Switzerland,  it’s much cheaper to buy your Swiss watch in the US.

Typical landscape of Geneva. Watch store after watch store.

If you like watches, when you visit us, you can tour the Patek Philippe Museum.   Patek Philippe is a brand of watches, based in Geneva.  In fact, the most expensive watch ever sold was a 1933 gold Patek Philippe, for $11 USD million.  Don’t worry – you don’t have to shell out that much cash to get a Patek Philippe.   The cheap versions start at about $10,000 USD.

The museum has four floors of displays on keeping time.   The ground floor contains actual work desks & tools used in the early days.  The top floor, 3rd floor, contains the archives and a library.  The 2nd floor has the antique collection.   The 1st floor holds time pieces from the last 150 years.

When Gabe’s cousin, Couch Surfer , was here, we caught a Patek Philippe visit late Saturday afternoon after her 4:20 train arrived, knowing it would be closed Sunday and Monday.

It was a worthwhile stop.  My favorite pieces were the timepieces for women, discretely designed to look like necklace pendants.   Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos inside the museum.  However; from this video, you can get a gist of the miraculous pieces contained inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Sunday and Monday, most of the museums are closed in Geneva.  Plan accordingly with your visit if you want to hit museums and tours.

Geneva International Motor Show

Gabe went to the International Motor Show when it was in Geneva a few weeks ago.  There is nothing that seemed worse to me than being handicapped amongst massive swarms of people either in a wheelchair or on crutches.   Thus, he went solo after work one day.  Maybe next year for me.

Ever since he went, he’s been asking me what color Tesla we are going to get.

Most recently, he has starting thinking about how we can build a new garage on our house in Charlotte so it can fit this Tesla.   If you have been to our house in Dilworth, you know our little shed won’t do and there really isn’t space for garage access with our teeny lot.   He has even been pondering about the alley way behind our property.

I thought I would share some of the eye candy from his camera with you:

This is the Tesla booth - Gabe's favorite. If you aren't familiar: it is an expensive electric sports car.

 

More futuristic cars!

 

A highlight on some of the non - Tesla electric cars

Gratitude Friday: Introducing Frau Hilda

This Friday, we wanted to express our gratitude for our car, Frau Hilda.   While we use the public transport quite a bit, it has been super nice to have a set of wheels during our time in Geneva for weekend trips.    Also, we are lucky enough to get the option to rent a parking spot near our building which is quite a luxury in Geneva.  We are very appreciative of this benefit.

What happens if you don’t have a spot near your building?    You have to buy what is called a macaroon.  No, it is not a tasty baked treat by Lady J, it is a 180 franc yearly pass to park on the street in certain blue zones.   You can only park in the particular zone  that correlates to your neighborhood.  However, this macaroon parking is not guaranteed.  We know people who have searched for over 45 minutes and not been able to find one remotely close to their house.   Yuck.

Why?   Geneva is not car friendly.  They are proactively trying to reduce spaces and convert people to use public transport.  For more on this and the hierarchy of who and what is important, check out Switzerland Hughes.

So how did Frau Hilda come about?   When Gabe accepted his job, they let us know we would have a company car in Geneva. We got to pick it out from three models: sedan, minivan and SUV.  We picked the only SUV option, swayed by the proximity to ski resorts.  We selected it in March, before we left.   We were notified that even though it was a BMW, a German brand, it was actually made in South Carolina.  About an hour from our house in Charlotte.  So it would take 9 months to make it to Europe.  Our furniture only took 2 months.

We like to name cars.  Gabe wanted it to be female.  We were debating whether to name her a South Carolina name or a German name.  We went German….Frau Hilda.

Has Frau Hilda ever starred in a film? Why, yes. Since her arrival in December,  we have made a video about her adventures entitled “BMW 007”.   Our favorite part is Frau Hilda “escaping” from the Monte Carlo Casino.Check out her film debut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bon weekend, everyone!

I never thought I’d dread a free foot massage…

…but I do now.   I just got back from physiotherapy, which I have twice a week.   I don’t do any walking in PT yet.  What these appointments consist of is the physical therapist pulling and pushing my big toe joint  in ways it doesn’t want to go yet.  I call it “the most painful foot massage ever”.

The pink is where I would like to move. The blue is where he thinks I should move. I found the screw on clip art. Not sure if my screws are that big or not but I imagine it to be.

Above is a diagram of it.   I figured I’d spare you an actual photo of my feet currently.  Not that they are doing bad….in fact, today marks the 8 week birthday of the new joints.  However, because of the modified way I am learning to walk, they have like 17 blisters apiece from where my tennis shoes rub them differently.   It’s not attractive.  You don’t want to see that on your Thursday morning while enjoying your coffee.

My physio is a Swiss guy and so we spend the half hour of torture talking about the differences in Swiss and American culture in a combination of English and French.  Things like:

-Mexican food – I talk about this a lot. So much so that every time I go, he asks me if I am making Mexican for dinner.  He thinks this is bizarre that we make Mexican.  I don’t think he has every had Mexican.  Or else never been ripped away from a favorite food group and implanted into a new culture who doesn’t have those products.  Or else he’d understand.

-Coca Cola – he asked me if I drink a lot of Coca-Cola since I am from America.  I told him that when I was a kid that I drank a 2 liter a day, but now I refrain from the stuff. I think that maybe I helped build this stereotype up about the US with that comment.

-The state of Kentucky and the fact that people there don’t eat Kentucky Fried Chicken but they did just win the basketball championship.

-Skiing differences between here and the US.

-American politics.  We talk a lot about the election. I find it remarkable that people from other cultures know so much about the US government and current events.  It inspires me to want to soak up knowledge and know more about others.

-How much Swiss stuff costs.  I think everyone agrees with this generalization.

-The different approaches to food in Europe vs. the US and how much Gabe and I appreciate the change of offering and are glad to pay more for better food.   For more on my opinion, read this previous post.

Since I have gained a bit more mobility through PT, I am expanding my exercise routine on the days I don’t have sessions.   Like by doing quasi-yoga.   I call it quasi because all I can do is downward dog and a little “walking the dog”.   But still, its progress!!

I have 5 more weeks until my bones heal and settle.  Here’s hoping for more patience with PT and increased flexibility until then!

 

Rolling….

Post by Lauren

Because of the limited mobility of my feet, it was much easier to ride in a wheelchair for the longer distances when traveling with Gabe’s family.  I have gotten permission to walk up to 30 minutes at a time (at a snails pace) but I am supposed to keep them elevated the rest of the day if I walk that much.  By riding in a chaise roulant (French for “wheelchair”), we didn’t have to stop and take 1000 breaks.  It is also easier for Mama Mia when doing long long days of tours and exploration to ride in the same style.

Hanging out in the courtyard of the hospital where Van Gogh lived / painted.

However, wheelchairs are not common in Europe.  Or so we are guessing by the stares we received while riding in them in the three countries we visited.   Not kidding that people would stop in their tracks and look.  For extended amounts of time.

In Zermatt, we guessed that maybe thought it had something to do with the thought of ski accidents since it is a huge winter sports town.  Maybe it scared them for what was ahead on the slopes the next day.   I joked with Gabe that if someone asked, I was going to tell them that it was a result of heli-skiing on the Matterhorn.

Attracting curiousity in Zermatt

In Milan, as Gabe pushed me along the streets of the fashion capital, we realized that this particular accessory also garnished a lot of looks.

In Nice, an 8 year old girl rollerbladed backwards for an entire minute so she could continue to gawk as we strolled/rolled down the Promenade d’Anglais.  I was worried she might collide and need one herself by the time the viewing was over.

I wonder why wheelchairs aren’t as common in Europe?   Maybe its the difficulty of cobblestones or lack of access to elevators & handicapped bathrooms due to older buildings?

Anyhow, just another culture difference we are learning about.

Monaco and Monte Carlo

Post by Lauren

Gabe has wanted to go to Monaco and Monte Carlo since we have moved to Europe.  Being a fan of James Bond, I think he wanted to see the winding roads and glitzy casino up close.

We arrived into Monaco in the morning, making it a perfect time to enjoy coffee and croissants at the famous Café de Paris adjacent to the Casino Monte Carlo.  The Gladiator, Mama Mia, Gabe and I soaked in the rising Monaco sun as we watched Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentley’s roll by.

Gabe and The Gladiator enjoying Café de Paris

Our immediate takeaway is how pristine everything in Monaco was.  To me, it felt like we were walking through an alternative universe, almost like a Barbie village, too immaculate to be real.

Monaco is a sovereign state, ruled by a royal family.   It is currently ruled by Prince Albert II.  His parents were Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly.  Princess Grace, previously a Hollywood actress, died when she had a stoke and resulting automobile crash over one of the notorious corniches.

Monaco is the second smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City.  It is also the second most densely populated, only occupying one square mile of land.   It is the same size as Central Park in New York City!  It takes about an hour to walk across the entire country (not counting me with my bum feet).

We took a little train tour, and learned a number of things about Monaco’s history.   For one, they have a police officer for every 60 citizens.  Thus, crime is virtually nonexistent.

Monaco doesn’t have taxes, making it a desirable place to live.   The casino was started as an effort to start bringing income to the principality.  There is also no border patrol. They speak French and take euros in addition to their currency, the monegasque franc.

 

And how can we forget the F1 races?  Monaco’s notoriety has soared because of these infamous races that take place in its winding streets.  We think these would be neat to see one day.

 

Image courtesy of F1 4 Kids

 

However, for now, “Goodbye, Monaco”.  Back to reality for us….

 

Villefranche, a quaint sea village

Post by Lauren

We had heard from numerous people that Villefranche was a great place to stay on the Cote d’Azur.   After spending one night, we’d wholeheartedly agree.

Villefranche was quaint and beautiful.  The colored buildings were gorgeous at both sunset and sunrise.  The small port had cozy restaurants lining the water and provided a nice way to relax and reflect on our trip.

We stayed at Hotel Provençal which provided stunning views. We have a dear friend that recommends The Welcome Hotel as well if you are considering a trip.

 

Adoring Villefranche

 

After checking in and enjoying our balconies for a bit, we drove down to the port.  We ended up checking out all the menus along the waterfront and selected Les Corsaires.  Mama Mia announced after we were seated that this night would be their treat in honor of Gabe’s birthday.  It was a perfect way to celebrate!!  Mama Mia had prawns, The Gladiator and Gabe had steaks (Gabe was still on the steak train from our experience in Arles) and I opted for a veal chop.

The place was family owned and dog friendly. In fact, this little guy kept checking on how my veal chop was.

My dinner table friend

 

Villefranche, we’ll be back some day!