Last stop before home

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
Trip End Oct 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
Bel Esperance Hotel

Flag of Switzerland  , Geneva,
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It was hard to say goodbye to everyone this morning - a few days creates some great friendships. After our final sessions people started leaving in cars and to the station and we all farewelled everybody (some several times!). It is hard to believe that the dream of coming to Geneva is nearly over.  I am so full to overflowing that I am glad for a couple of days' space in Geneva town on my own to come down and process things a little bit. It has been a huge privilege to meet the sort of people I have met at this conference and I hope to see a few of them again.  I have an open invitation to Indonesia from my dear friend Seemun, who is a real sister in Christ.  We had lots in common and spent time together. She found it hard to say goodbye.  Peter, from Germany, is bringing a group of a dozen principals to Australia this time next year and after getting to know me, is now going to come to Melbourne as well as Sydney!! I will enjoy putting together an itinerary and looking after them.  I have to say that my (unfounded) impression of Germans was way off mark and the group from Germany endeared themselves to everyone.

So, off to the train in Vevey to head for Geneva and my last couple of days.  I travelled with a New Zealander, and if I expected any help with my luggage I realized that he had more trouble heaving his own cases and bags onto the train that doesn't stop long!  We fell on to the train more or less in the right class carriage and stowed our stuff in the bicycle section which has more space.  For the last time I watched the beautiful lake scenery on one side and the ancient south facing terraced vineyards on the other, and then it was time to propel my luggage onto the station in the city and try to land somewhere near it on the platform!

It was a relief to be free and on my own after such intense socialisation, so I wandered around a little and found the tourist office.  As I posted on FB, its entrance was a flight of steep steps which seemed not very user friendly for tourists, let alone the disabled.  I got my map and capitulated to taking a taxi to the hotel.  Commitment to public transport has its limits.  Someone told me about the Bel Esperance hotel, which is run by the Salvos.  It is 2-3 star, but very inexpensive compared to anything else at all in one of the world's most expensive cities.  The room is simple but lovely, the staff are extremely friendly and the location is perfect, right next to the cathedral where I want to go.  For $125 including breakfast it is a remarkable find (thanks Stephen L!).  I think I need to get out tomorrow and spend what I have saved!

Once I sorted myself out I headed out to the cathedral precinct. St Peters is the Protestant cathedral at the centre of the reformation, and is austere and undecorated in contrast to most other cathedrals I have seen. It does, however, have its own beauty and an awesome sense of history. The two highlights are Calvin's wooden chair, which is situated at the bottom of the stairs up to the pulpit (which is not the original), and the delightful little Maccabees chapel which does actually have some colour in it.  I always like to sit a while in churches and while I was doing that, a guy went up to the front and burst into a powerful song. He had his phone to his ear, so it was sort like a solo flash mob!  Everyone was riveted until he finished and just walked out.

Then to the Reformation museum, which may not attract everyone but I found fascinating. Having studied reformation church history it was amazing to see artifacts, letters, paintings, etchings and furniture including a printing press and Bibles from that era of Martin Luther. Geneva was quite a hotbed at the time in the early 16th century and was a city of refuge for thousands of exiled Protestants from all over Europe.  One room was closed in preparation for an event tonight, which was, of course, a public debate on predestination!!  I also learnt about many other less known characters apart from Luther and Calvin, and enjoyed the music room where I sat in a pew and pressed buttons to hear Heugenot psalms, Lutheran chorales and reformed hymns.  There was no one else in there, so it was a very reflective time.

After a wander around the old town and some views of the lake I headed home for a snooze.  When I came to, I realized that I would need to go out again for food and felt a little daunted in a strange dark place down a lane.  The desk people were really helpful and assured me it was safe, so out I went and successfully found a place that had rosti (last chance to eat this delicious Swiss specialty), ordered and paid in French and got home at 10pm without being mugged.  Ah, the challenges of a single traveller!

Now, will I sleep with the Cathedral clock chiming the hour and every quarter hour in between???
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