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Geneva and Lyon

07/08/05

  10:07:44 pm, by Nimble   , 792 words  
Categories: Journal

Geneva and Lyon

The first part of our trip is going extremely well so far. Garnier paid for 7 nights of accomodations and the flights to and from Switzerland, so we took four nights in Geneva to get our feet, and spent the time planning the spare unpaid-for week in the middle. (Thank you for allowing us the time, Lara!)

Geneva isn't exactly what I pictured. It's a little graffiti-painted, a little perpetually under construction... I had in mind something more grand for the city proper.

That said, the visit was great. We stayed in the Novotel in Geneva Center, a hop and a skip (and no jump) away from the train station... which if we had known it, would have saved us a bundle in cab fare. We learned the lesson, however, and booked the rest of our trip pretty near train stations :)

Make no mistake about it, Europe is expensive. A trip to Mickey D's for little more than burgers and a drink is as cheap as you can get, and that will still set you back about $20 for two.

Geneva is an ultimulticultural oasis. There are oodles of people from all over, and the restaurants, from Japanese to Portuguese to Lebanese to Hindese, reflect that, even moreso than downtown Calgary. French is the spoken language here, and if you see people of colour with lighter palms than skin, you've very likely run into people from Senegal.

If you're going shopping for groceries, the Migros is pretty darned good. Paprika is the flavour in Europe for potato chips, and baguette sandwiches or every sort are what you will find at practically every street corner. Make sure you look underground - occasionally there is a mall under there.

Geneva is surrounded by France, and surrounds a great big lake with a multistory-tall fountain. You can stroll along the lakeside for a very long ways, and it is constantly bustling. We just missed, by a mere day, apparently, a big rave/show on the lake - would have been a sight!

We took Monday to go up to CERN. I had no illusions of being able to get a tour, and I wasn't not-disappointed :) Unfortunately as well, the Microcosm exhibit was closed and had no signage to indicate whether this was a temporary condition, so I missed out on that, too.

I did, however, get to take in some of the convivial, very campus-like feel of the place, sitting in the cafeteria with the "proton" special of the day (pork stew; "neutron" was fish) and watching a great sea of geeks around me of all ages. What on earth do these people DO?

It's very easy to get to CERN from the train station - just hop on the number 9. WARNING. There are TWO number 9 buses, that differ only by their end-points. Make SURE you get on the one marked "CERN"!

We also went to Geneva's Botanical Gardens. What an absolute treat. It's got great big grounds (more enjoyable when not raining, I can well imagine), with many interesting plantings. I enjoyed the areas that had themes like "plants used in perfumes", "tropical plants used in manufacture" (with plants like pepper vines and cinnamon trees). We also encountered cockatoos that were nesting or something. I lost a few auditory nerves entering the area.

We decided on the spur of the moment to go to the biggest, nearest French city, Lyon. So on Tuesday, we set out, and went through many, many tunnels.

Lyon is a fantastic-looking place, bigger and nicer-looking than Geneva itself. It's BIG, though - you'd have trouble covering what you want to, and we got blisters and overheating from walking around. We took in the Art Deco Museum (too tired to take in the History of Fabric part!) and tried to find our way back.

Would love to spend more time there sometime; I don't think we got the good of the place.

The television programming was multilingual, and we ran across a show to the effect of the "100 biggest gaffes" in French. Couldn't figure out most of the verbal humour, but there was one bit I DID catch. On one show, they were thanking the producer, the sound crew, etc. A lady piped in "and the makeup crew" (in French of course). "Ah, yes, the makeup crew"... in French "qui a fait Annette la plus belle"... but he pronounced "plus" without the "l".

...which makes it sound instead of "plus belle", "more beautiful", instead "poubelle", or "garbage can".

Ouch :)

I will continue our adventures, especially now that we are in Venice and have much to say, later. I will talk about Antonio, the Spegna hotel, getting lost, the many stairs, where to get cheap food, problems at the train station, and all that.

Until next time!

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