A boat, a mini train and tomorrow a plane.

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

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Where I stayed
Bel Esperance Hotel

Flag of Switzerland  , Geneva,
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Here it is, late afternoon in Geneva, and I am listening to Nightlife with Tony Delroy on 774 in Australia while I write.  It is strangely comforting as well as a bit confusing. The people on talkback in the early hours are a particular breed of people!

I am back from my last day of sight seeing and have given Geneva a good go! Slept really well last night, had a lovely long talk on Face time and then went to explore the breakfast room.  It was wonderful - all sorts of cereal and fruit, warm croissants, fresh bread, cheese and jams and good coffee. This place is a gem and remarkable value.

Had some discussion at the desk about how to get to the airport in the morning and am still thinking about it.  The best options are bus or taxi, with the latter sounding easier but costing around $60. With my tourist free travel card, I can ride any transport at all completely free, the only question being whether I want to try that out for the first time to get to to the airport in a strange city by myself... The young guy was very helpful and said what we say in Australia, 'You can't miss it!'. It's only a few hundred metres so I went and had a look this morning on my way out, and spotted the bus. It looks easy enough!

It was raining this morning but the day cleared up gradually and we had some sun later so it was great for wandering around. My first goal was to get to the Jardin Anglais, which was laid out in the 14th century! The English apparently differed from the Swiss more formal and symmetrical style, as it is more natural and the paths wind around the trees and features.  There is a glorious fountain in the middle called 'The four seasons'. As in Vevey and Montreux, the gardens are extremely well kept and the last flush of autumn roses was lovely.  The lawns are manicured and weed free, and various areas were cordoned off, apparently to let them rejuvenate before winter.

One highlight is L'Horloge Fleuri, the floral clock. The guide notes said it wasn't worth a special trip but I disagree - it was beautiful with over 6,500 plants which change with the season and the second hand is the second longest in the world. Anyway, I liked it, and it was about there that I looked up and saw the Jet D'Eau, the water spout, for the first time.  It is really impressive close up, spouting with great force 140 metres into the air over the lake. Although it is the symbol of Geneva, it is nothing very special once you have seen it - just a challenge to photograph.

I explored the lakefront promenade, found a few little souvenirs forthe kids (having a family of 15 is a bit of a challenge for shopping!), and saw the Mont Blanc bridge and the famous name bank and business area - pretty impressive with Rolex, Suisse Bank, Tissot and Swiss Private Banking all in a row. Cartier, Chanel, Gucci and all the rest are there - didn't buy any presents there though!  

It was time for my lunch cruise and the sun was really shining at last.  The boat took me on a nearly 2 hour circuit of the Petit Lac, which is the Geneva end of the lake, known as Lac Leman here. There weren't many on the boat, so it was like a personal cruise and very relaxing. For lunch I had perch fillets (which were cooked in butter - yum) and local cider, which was a perfect combo. I thought to myself that it was a pretty much perfect way to finish in Switzerland - on the lake, eating fish and enjoying the scenery in just the right temperature. It felt like the good life - except it was a bit strange doing it on my own. There was a little girl who looked about 6 and was having a good time. Firstly, she reminded me of my beautiful grandchildren, and I was glad I will see them and get hugs very soon. Secondly, it was enchanting to listen to her French chatter - how can she roll those r's so perfectly and have the cute inflection?!

I was able to just make the connection with a little tourist train that I wanted to get so that I could tour more of the town that was too far for me to walk. I had looked for a double decker bus tour that we have done so often in other places, but doesn't seem to be here.  This little train was pretty cute and is apparently the very first totally solar train in Europe. It zipped through the gardens and around the lake and into the old town and had a good commentary, so it was a low energy way of getting further out of the town.  

My last goal was the museum of Art and History, but I had run out, so will have to be another time. I have done pretty well in a short time and it is time to get myself organized. It took a while but I found some takeaway food for tea so I don't have to go out again , and then stumbled on a carnival, complete with merry go round and lots of kids and families. Really happy in the late afternoon sun and a reminder that people are the same all over the world. Simple fun makes children and their families happy.

So it is time to empty the ultra lite case on the bed and do a packing miracle ready for the morning getaway. If you have followed this blog all the way, well done! I love Switzerland and am so glad the conference was located here and that I was able to come. Can't wait to get the trip over and see all the people I love.
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