Monday, July 30, 2012

Geneva – This Mr. and Mrs. visit the Mr. and Mrs. Living with Swisses

In Munich, a doner kebab sandwich costs $3.50. In Geneva, it costs about $12. Welcome to Switzerland.

Thankfully, we had a great welcome to Switzerland thanks to our friends John and Danielle Dolin. They’re from the Seattle area, but live and work in Geneva for the moment. Danielle writes an excellent blog called A Mr. And Mrs. Trying to Live with the Swisses.
We arrived at the Geneva Airport train station on a Thursday afternoon. John met up with us and took us back to their place. It was great to see somebody that we had known for longer than a week.
Inside, their apartment was a little taste of home. We had enchiladas the first night, which was the first time we’ve had Mexican food since leaving the USA. All the movies and books sitting around the room were in English. And thanks to the magic of SlingBox, they had actual American television. It was not recorded, or on tape delay, it was actual American TV!
John’s another professional geek… er, software-guy, so we watched the entire Family Guy: Star Wars saga, fixed a hairy SELinux issue and took apart and repaired a broken external hard-drive. Good times, eh?
On Friday, Danielle took the day off and we took a boat across Lake Geneva to the little town of ___ in France. It was a neat little town, but we walked across the entire thing in about ten minutes. Fortunately, we found a crepe place and a restaurant called Le Pirate. My sister called that night, so we spent a good chunk of time talking on Skype.
Saturday really gave us a clue as to what it’s like to be a couple Americans living in Switzerland. Specifically, it means shopping in France.
The southwest part of Switzerland sticks out into France. It’s kind of like the Tennessee panhandle, except with much more chocolate. Combine this with the fact that everything is ridiculously expensive in Switzerland and you end up with people crossing the border to do grocery shopping.
So John, Danielle, Leslie and I were joined by another Dolin by the name of Carty. Carty is about the size of our backpacks, but on wheels and designed to hold groceries.
Our first stop was a nice little market, where we picked up a bunch of veggies for dinner and throughout the week for the Dolins. We were also going to do a meat, cheese and veggie lunch so we were looking to pick up items to flesh out the lunch. Sausages, olives and fruits were pretty simple, but when we tried some samples of bread, we just had to get some.
It had been baked that morning, was warm to the point of gooey-ness and full of thick, rich flavors. Personally, I liked the chocolate, but Leslie wanted orange. We ended up getting two slices of bread. Unfortunately, it was sold by weight and thick, gooey bread isn’t light.
We paid $16 for two slices of bread. Ouch.
Later that day the four of us went to check out downtown Geneva. (Carty decided to stay home).
Geneva was a beautiful city. We saw the UN and walked down the shopping district and around the point of the lake. It began to be apparent that something was happening when we were going over a bridge by the lake.
Throughout most of Europe, drinking in public is allowed. Picturesque bridges often end up being hang-out places for younger people to congregate and drink. This was true in Geneva as well, but it seemed early, and the bridge was packed.
Then we saw a couple people dressed exactly alike. Then some people dressed up like animals. Finally, we saw a stand selling mojitos for $15 and it looked like a festival.
We soon learned that it was “The Lake Festival”. It’s a parade of clubs on wheels. We found ourselves a pretty good viewing spot and watched a dozen or so of these clubs on wheels go by. They were sponsored by local companies (often a bar or dance-club) and usually had a DJ on board. The better ones had something to help them stick out. Some had all the people dressed in similar colors, one had a pirate theme and another a foam-machine. I got some pretty funny pics of the foam-machine party-bus with most people dancing and one girl desperately trying to get her head out of the foam.
That night, we headed back for some of my famous mac ‘n’ cheese.
Our last day with the Dolins was quite lazy, but it was great. Sitting around on a nice couch for an extended period of time is just something that doesn’t happen for us all that often. Throw in US TV and some illegal pulled pork and we told John and Dee we may be moving in. Lazy days like that aren’t easy for us to come by right now.
But alas, as Ben Franklin put it, houseguests are like fish, both stink after three days.
Monday morning we were on our way. We really wanted to see more of Switzerland, but it is so darn expensive that we decided to do it in a day. We started with a trip to Lucerne, which is a small town in the center of the country. It’s supposedly the most postcard-worthy town in Switzerland. After seeing all the covered bridges we could see why. We stayed all of two hours in Lucerne, carrying our packs the whole time. We got three pieces of reheated pizza to go for lunch. $15.
A few more hours on the train took us to Zurich, which is known for being a finance-center and is developing a following as a young persons clubbing area as well.
We walked through the high-rent shopping district, saw Europe’s biggest clock and walked around a park. For dinner, we just got things from the grocery store. We ended up finding a dock where one of the river taxis stopped and ate across the street from the “Felding” club (or something like that).
The felders were boaters. Their boats looked like rowboats that were about 4 times the length. Two felders would be in a boat at any given time, one in front, one in back, both standing. They had huge oars that they’d use to paddle. Bouys had been set up around the canal, so they’d race around the track. I assume they were going for speed. There was a group of 20-somethings and a group of 60-somethings. After they were done, they sat drinking beer in front of the felding club. It was fun to see people of different generations bonding over a common activity like that.
Alas, we had to leave. Zurich looked great and I would have liked to spend a couple days, but its really expensive, and there’s a ton of other places I want to see that aren’t.
So our final day in Switzerland ended at 9:00pm as we boarded the dreaded night-train.
Next stop, Amsterdam.

No comments:

Post a Comment