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.

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Gratitude Friday: My Swiss Misses

Lately, I have been reflecting on how lucky I am to have met such fabulous ladies in Geneva.   They had some pretty tough shoes to fill as far as awesomeness with my gals back home.   However, I have been very fortunate, and thus this week’s gratitude post.

It’s always nice to have a support network.  But in a foreign country, it is equally as important.

The day I met D & A, at Caves Ouvertes 2011

As culture shock comes on, or a “bad Swiss day” rears its head, I am thankful to have these women in my life.   Plus, there’s only so much Gabe can take 🙂

Courtesy of Schwingen in Switzerland

 

A lot of the times, we have the same frustrations and joy.    It’s good to know that other people usually have been through what you are going through, or just simply understand.   This could include major things, or minor things.   It’s pretty funny some of the stories we all share.   Like, for instance, everyone has forgotten to label the produce at the store and gotten yelled at.   And, everyone’s had an extremely awkward doctor’s visit.

Nutella Pizza usually makes everything better

It’s also fun to share holidays away from home with others.  Both with people who are familiar with the traditions, as well as sharing what we do with others

If it weren’t for these guys, Gabe and I would celebrate silly US holidays like Halloween alone!

Montreux Christmas market 2011

It’s also awesome to celebrate the good times.   Of course, many birthdays, and even I’ve had the pleasure of seeing 2, almost 3, little ones be born.

Celebrating C’s birthday (it was yesterday!)

This one’s almost ready 🙂

Geneva is a transient city.   People come and people go.   The length of time one might stay in a city is easy changeable and usually not very long.

This Friday, I continue to reflect on my good fortune and I’m just happy to have had the opportunity for knowing them in this period of time.

Caves Ouvertes 2012

This past weekend was our favorite day of the year in Geneva:  Caves Ouvertes.   You may remember that we attended Caves Ouvertes our first Saturday in Geneva and it’s where we met A & A and D at the bus stop.  It’s crazy we’ve been hear a year and are having a second round of activities.

The reason its the best day in Geneva is that you pay 5 CHF for a wine glass and you can taste wine all day at any of the 90 open wineries in the canton.  This is hands-down Switzerland’s best deal.

A & A kicked off Caves Ouvertes 2012 with a scrumptious Canadienne Buffet at their house: American style.   We knew we’d need the hearty breakfast to fill our tummies before the big day.  They made eggs, bacon and biscuits & gravy.  L brought hash browns.   We brought Duncan Hines blueberry muffins (thanks Mama Mia for bringing us the mix from the US!).

The hosts with the delicious spread

My plate of yummy brunch

After brunch, we headed to Rive to catch the bus up to Vesenaz where the special Caves Ouvertes bus would pick us up.

Reminiscing our meeting one year ago.   D moved back to the US  in August and we have missed her.  Notice that A made a new “D on a stick” and she accompanied us this year in spirit.

As we waited for the bus, it started to rain.  Boo.  But it wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying a day of free wine.

Storms on the Swiss countryside

We tried to go to Cave de la Chena again as it was so cute and quaint.  However, they didn’t open until 1pm this year.   Luckily, it was at the location where the bus looped back around 5 minutes later.

We re-boarded the bus and headed to the next stop, Domaine Château-L’Evêque.   It is a organic winery and we really enjoyed a number of their wines.

Approaching Domaine Château-L’Evêque – home of bio wine.

Spirits were high at our first stop

We enjoyed a lot of their wines.  We noted we wanted to buy 7-8 bottles.  However, there were a delivery fee up until 24 bottles.  We decided to come back on another day to purchase as it wasn’t going to be fun to tote that many bottles on the bus.

After an hour, we decided it was time to move on.  We hopped on the bus and traveled to Jussy.

2nd stop: Château du Crest

Gorgeous castle turned winery

We really enjoyed this place last year.    New this year, Château du Crest had a game – you had to guess what type of wine was in each glass – blanc, rosé, or rouge.

The Wine Game

Gabe trying to guess

A got a few wrong.  Guess we’ll have to continue drinking to improve her wine skills. 

After trying out the game, we went for the wine tasting room.   We were encouraged to try their new wine, Surprise.

Gabe and A intrigued by the sales pitch

Château du Crest had almost 20 wines to try.  We think this would also be a nice place to come with guests.  Their website says they are open 5-7 on weekdays and 10-12 Saturdays.

My rating sheet

After we left, we took time to pause in the same field as last year, with D on a stick.

Missing D

We hopped back on the bus and headed to stop #3:  Domaine de la Tour.  It was a cute little winery and they gave us a free platter of cheese and meat.  So kind!  We each bought a bottle there in gratitude.

It was 1:30 so we decided it was time to head to a town that had multiple wineries before Caves Ouvertes ended at 4pm.

Only in Switzerland can you interact with local farm animals while waiting for the bus

L gave up her newly purchased bottle to the cause since we had a long wait.  This may or may not have been a mistake.

Only in Switzerland can you drink on the bus.

We rode twenty minutes to Anières.   Our first stop was lively, with a live band and a huge crowd.

Stop #4

At this place, they were serving raclette.    It smelled delish.  All five of us got our own plate.

Specialty of Switzerland: raclette

After a few tastes there, we stopped next door.

Enjoying Anières with its three wineries within steps of each other

Stop #5

At 4:45, we headed across the street to La Cote D’Or.   I only had one taste before I decided my feet couldn’t make it anymore.  They’d been standing maybe 2-3 hours on and off.

Stop #6

We trudged through the rain to the bus stop but missed the one we had intended to catch.  We huddled under the shelter and tried to keep warm waiting for the next.

When we arrived back in Geneva, I headed home to rest, elevate and ice the feet.  They’d had a big day.   Gabe headed out with the rest of the group to Old Town for a few drinks to continue the fun.

Another great Caves Ouvertes!

La Tour du Molard

The Tower of Molard is a wine bar located in Place du Molard – literally located in the tower in the square.   I have been meaning to check it out, so E-dawg’s visit provided a perfect opportunity.

There are two main bar rooms, but there are small seating areas overlooking the plaza side and the lake side on each turn of the staircase.      Thus, you can either be sociable by gathering in a bar room, or more intimate by finding a quiet overlook above.

We arrived around 8pm and it was quite lovely to watch the sun set and the pavers light up in Molard square.    We enjoyed a regional Gamay and a Pinot Noir  (they only serve local wines) while catching up on old times.

E-dawg in Molard square at twilight. We took our time walking to the bus so we could read the different languages expressed on the lit-up pavers.   You can see the patrons of the wine bar silhouetted in the windows. 

We’d recommend this place for a cocktail – especially on a rainy evening like the one we had.  It provided a lovely backdrop of the city while we could remain warm & dry.

Discovering Geneva: The Museum of the Reformation

On Tuesday, after our tour of the site archeologique, we took a quick lunch break at Creperie St. Pierre and then moved onto the final stop: La Musée de la Réforme de Genève.   This museum retraces the history of the movement started by John Calvin in Geneva.   It includes artifacts and exhibits from the start until the current age.

The Museum of the Reformation

The museum was interesting; however, a little disjointed.  We were lucky to get English audio guides, but not all of the numbers could be found and they were out of order in most cases.    We spent a lot of time on the ground floor figuring this out while we learned about the origination and first century of the Reformation.

As we moved on, we learned just to hit the #s that we saw that looked interesting to us and continue on that way.

The basement floor contained history from the 19th and 20th centuries.  There were exhibitions on the role in civil society, the progression and dynamics of mission work, a computer screen depicting the statistics of the denominations of religion in the US, and audio of Billy Graham and the evangelistic movement.  That part was pretty neat to see how Calvin’s impact echoed through society today.

You are not allowed to take photos so we don’t have anything to show.

Bottom line – this museum is full of intriguing and interesting exhibits.  However, it might be best to make it your only stop in the day so you can comprehend the full depth of history and really take the time to visit both the ground and bottom floor.     We were a little tapped out from hitting the archeological site first, both in terms of standing and mind-power, so we wore ourselves out before getting to the basement.

Those who do visit this museum, make sure to check out the Reformation Wall in Parc des Bastions as well!

 

Discovering Geneva: Archeological Site of Saint-Pierre

This past Tuesday, E-dawg and I bought a combo pass to the Espace St. Pierre.  For 18 CHF, it included passes to the site archaeologic underneath the cathedral (8 CHF), the Museum of the Reformation (13 CHF), and a pass to climb to the top of the Cathedral for the view (4 CHF).

Since there was a peak of sunshine, E-dawg started out by touring the Cathedral and climbing up to the top to see the magnificent view of Geneva from above.   I had done this before and due to the condition of my feet, I passed on the climb and sat in a pew and relaxed.

After she’d taken in the panoramic view above, we descended beneath the Cathedral.  From a previous post, I mentioned there were many different Roman temples and other Christian churches on this site prior to the current St. Pierre / St. Peters.  The archeological site allows you to see the evidence from the previous structures.

A model which lit up to show you the different eras, before your physical tour of the space.

Below is a cross section of photos from our visit.  Two of the most interesting things to me were the mosaic tiles in the reception hall of the bishops, and the tomb of the Allobrogian where someone had drilled a whole to pay homage to his skull.

This web page does a marvelous job of showing the timeline of events, in case you are interested in learning more about the history.

We really enjoyed the site and both rated it a 9 out of 10.

Discovering Geneva: Palais des Nations

On E-dawg’s second day we had pegged the Palais des Nations as a possible stop for the rainy Monday.  It was a good choice because, by default, it was literally the only museum open on Monday.   Also E-dawg had it on her Geneva “must visit” list.

She had read there was a lot of walking and warned me but I decided I was up for it – couldn’t be more than a km or so. We took the bus to Nations.   This was our first mistake.  Or my first mistake.  I just assumed that tourist rolled right through the colorful flags into the Palais des Nations to enter.

The grande entrance to the Palais des Nations. This is the oldest building and is bigger than the Palace of Versailles.

However, the actual tour entrance is was a 1 km walk away from the grande entrance.  This detail would not have been very important to the old me.  However, it is very important to the present-day me with healing feet.    Thus, I wanted to show those readers who might be a little walking challenged where the entrance is.  The #8 bus, Appia stop, gets you considerably closer.   It’s important to conserve energy as this tour does include a lot of walking.

They are very protective of the safety of UN workers.  Rightfully so, since 3000 have died in operations or just by being in UN offices in times of terror.   So, checking in for the tour required multiple steps.  First, you go through an airport-style metal detector.  Then, you approach a desk to register by showing your passport for scanning, getting a new picture taken, and  that photo being printed into a picture badge.

Next you go down an escalator, pay 12 CHF, and walk a distance to the entrance and gathering group of the tours.   You approach the desk, give your language preference and wait.  Then you get a bright orange lanyard indicating you are a tourist so that you can be easily spotted.

We were very lucky to have an amazing tour guide.    We started the tour by seeing some of the conference rooms.   There are over 9000 meetings a year so they need a lot of conference rooms.

We learned that in the traditional rooms, the member states sit in alphabetic order.  Then comes the observer non-member states  (like Palestine, Vatican City), then the NGOs that provide the link between civil society and UN.  Then approved media.

E-Dawg overlooking a traditional UN conference room

The UN has six official languages – English, Arabic, French, Mandarin, Spanish and Russian.    If you want to address the UN in a non official language, you have to bring your own translator.

Human issues conference room. The ceiling was done by a Spanish artist and was donated by the country of Spain. His intention was for the textured color to peak like waves of ocean. The color represents the diversity of opinions in the world. The art was unveiled and conference room reopened in April 2009. The current issues in Syria are discussed here.

E-dawg and I in the grand assembly room in the Palais des Nations. The UN logo is different in this room, with the globe view from the top, showing no country is in the middle at the UN.

Original council room of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was formed after WWI. However, they failed at preventing WW2 so it disbanded. Mr. Pettyjohn would be proud I was seeing this place as we learned a lot about it in Freshman History. Now this room serves as the council of disarmement, preventing nuclear and chemical means of warfare.

Some fast facts about the UN:

-It was formed in 1945 after WW2 with the UN Charter

-It started with 52 members.  Now there are 193.  South Sudan was the last joiner.  Switzerland didn’t join until 2002!

-The UN is decorated with art from all over the world, to represent its diversity among member states.    In a grand entrance, there are colored marble in different designs.  Our guide pointed out that the marble comes from 3-4 different countries to show integration and how great works are possible with collaboration.  Pretty cool.

E-dawg stands by the hall of traditional artwork donated by member states

The Russians donated the Conquest of Space and Time statue - made out of titanium like space shuttles. Sorry, its the tiny thing in the distance - I took all these photos with my iPhone.

Trees are donated from all over the world to adorn the park, creating diversity in landscape

What is the difference in Geneva and NYC?

NYC handles more of the political and economical issues while Geneva focuses on human rights, science, technology, health, and world disasters.

The chair with the missing leg was donated by Handicapped, Intl to represent the lives and limbs lost by unnecessary land mines

The WHO (world health organization) is one of the bigger departments here in Geneva.  Also, UNHCR – the high commission for refugees, which helps 20 million people a year!

Why did they pick Geneva?  

NGO, The Red Cross was already there (1863) and it had been proven to be a good place for a headquarters.  Plus,  Switzerland was a neutral country making it additionally easier to facilitate an organization such as the UN.   Third, Geneva was known as a very diverse city which helped exemplify what the UN’s goals are.  Finally, geography – Geneva is in the center of Europe and is accessible by train and airport.

The views aren't bad here either.

Currently, there are 8500 employees in Geneva, but 25,000 delegates participating here each year.    Building on that, 163 of the 193 member states have permanent missions in Geneva.   I know a few women at the women’s club whose husbands work for the missions so this fact a was interesting.

All in all, it was a good tour.   I give it a 7 out of 10 and E-dawg rates it a 6.5 or 7 out of 10.

Fondue at Bains des Paquis

I am excited that E-dawg arrived safely to Geneva this past Sunday.   It is great to have her here!

When I woke up to downpours on her arrival day, it didn’t look good.  Rain, rain and more rain.   Two hail storms later, I greeted her at the airport.  However, low and behold……the sun came out during our bus ride home.  Thank you, Geneva!

After her quick shower and unpacking (remember, I don’t let jet lagged people sleep!), we headed out of the house to try to take advantage of the break in the grey skies.

We took the little yellow boat / muette over to the Paquis to go to Bain des Paquis for an early dinner of fondue.  Unfortunately, we arrived at 5pm and they didn’t serve fondue until 6pm.   Fail.  Poor E-Dawg was starving!     We occupied ourselves taking photos and with an appetizer of viande sechée (dried meat) while watching people skip stones and ducks socialize, until it was time.

Bain des Paquis is very different from your traditional Swiss fondue restaurant.   It is located on an island jetting off of The Paquis neighborhood on the right bank.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Difference # 1 – it is right next to the turkish baths.  You are in sight of people in their towels relaxing in the cooling air.    This could turn people off from eating fondue.  Non-adventerous people that is!!!

Difference # 2 – You order at the counter and then they either give you your order immediately, or they bring it to you.  In the case of fondue, they bring it to you.

Difference # 3 – They serve fondue au crémant – it is made with sparkling wine and is lighter and creamier than other types.  Mmmmm.

Difference # 4- You also have the ability to order as many servings as you want no matter how big your party is.  Why is this important, you ask?   Well, the average US visitor cannot eat their fair share of fondue.  Thus, it makes it more appealing for the stomach and the wallet to share a pot of the cheesy stuff.  Who wants to waste half a vat of cheese and pay overpriced Swiss francs for it?  So,  in the case of E-dawg and I, we shared a portion for one (22 CHF).  And it was perfect.  We even reached the toasty cheese-it bottom that is very elusive.

E-dawg enjoying the creamy treat made with cheese and sparkling wine

Yummy cheese-it bottom!

The view is incredible.  These shots were taken just steps away from where we ate.

View of the Jet d'Eau from Bains des Paquis

Bains des Paquis is also a nice place to relax

Unfortunately, the Bains des Paquis stops serving fondue at the end of April.  So hurry there before the time is up!  Or else, you’ll just have to wait for Fall…..

Related articles:
The Swiss Watch Blog – Famous Swiss Foods:  Cheese
Schwingen in Switzerland – Expat 101 – Lesson 3 – The Best Fondue in Geneva
Saveur – Fondue au Crémant 

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