International Writers Magazine: Switzerland:
Weekend in Geneva
people think of Switzerland, They think of Geneva and mistake it
sometimes for its capital although it is Bern located in the middle
of the country but has only 50,000 inhabitants compared to the population
of Geneva that is about 180,000 inhabitants. It is the third largest
city in Switzerland.
the plane landed, I stuck my head to the window and saw a view I
had never seen before. I saw a lot of flat lands, a lot of lakes,
a lot of seas but never a distinctive large lake, which could have
been mistaken for a sea, surrounding by high mountains including
the famous Mont-Blanc.
At that very moment,
I knew I had fallen in love with the city already. The exit was right
in front of me and I could feel the sun burning my face. This was nice
and on top that you could pick your free bus and train ticket that brought
you anywhere in Geneva from the airport. It was also the first time
I saw an airport doing that.
I boarded the train and in six minutes I was in Geneva city centre.
The first thing to do is to take a walk along the quays and admiring
the beauty of the landscape. The mountains around the lake leman with
its boats and its swans. This is the romantic place to be. The architecture
speaks for herself. The old charming town is a pedestrian area with
narrow streets full of shops and galleries selling art and antiques.
It has a lot of restaurants and cafés.
Switzerland is known for its watches and victorinox knives among others.
You can find them in almost any shops around the city. They may have
all the Swatch models possible.
I visited three places along my week end although not the Patek Philippe
Museum that gives you five hundred years of history centred around the
watch and maybe the most famous one dedicated to the organisation funded
by Henry Dunant, the Red Cross, is the international Red Cross and Red
The first place I visited on the Saturday morning was CERN, which is
the European organization for nuclear research. Although I am generally
much more interested in art or literature I wanted to see this, as it
is the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world. That is science
at the end of the day and that is who we are. We are made of particles
and not of books. These are just ornaments whereas science is real.
They recently activated the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), which is a
machine to accelerate two beams of particles in opposite directions
at approximately the speed of light. It then creates collisions therefore
new particles for physicists to study. It is installed in a tunnel 27km
in circumference, buried 50-150 m below ground. Located at the Franco-Swiss
border just outside Geneva. If you are interested in physics and science
this is the place not to miss.
Palais des nations (United nations office) could be considered as
the Versailles of Geneva even though it is twice as large as the
Chateau de Versailles. The visits are only guided and there is a
draconian security check as the same in airports. The place is interesting
and there are many artworks hung on the walls donated by different
countries. Peacocks were hanging around the park in liberty. There
was maybe one of the most extraordinary view on Mont-Blanc and lake
On Sunday as I was walking down the streets of Geneva I stopped
by the natural history museum. It had been a while since I have
not been to a natural history museum. It is situated in the city
centre in a nice park. The ground floor is devoted to regional fauna
and it covers almost every vertebrate species in Switzerland. The
first floor to mammals and birds of the world while the second floor
is devoted to most invertebrates of the world.
I recall a film
that was showing how the Carnivorous piranhas especially the red species
could be dangerous to humans and so hungry they could eat a human being.
It showed that they were attacking as a group of not less than fifty
and the sharp teeth they had. I found that fascinating how an animal
with such a small brain could plan attacks. The third floor is dedicated
to the history of mankind and an area to minerals and geology. I used
to know most minerals when I was young so I tried to test myself if
I could remember some of them. It looked like I knew most of them by
sight and I could recognise them : This is a rose quartz and this one
is an amber, this is an amethyst and a pyrite etc
.The third floor
is dedicated to Dinosaurs and geology of Switzerland.
Institut Voltaire, which I did not visit in the end, is the house
where Voltaire used to live. He used it as his main residence. It
is now become an important documentation and research centre. There
is a collection of 20,000 printed papers including 2,400 printed
works of Voltaire. Objects that belonged to him are also exhibited.
On the third day you can choose to do an excursion outside Geneva.
There are day tours organised from the city to Chamonix and Gstaad.
Where you can take the train, the bus, the boat and climb to the
glaciers. Chamonix is only an hour and a half drive from Geneva
whereas Gstaad is quite farer. Gstaad is internationally known and
attracts the high society as a ski resort but is also a charming
village with typical Swiss chalets.
Geneva s proximity
to the mountains and the lake makes it an ideal spot either for summer
or winter breaks. It is a sophisticated, cheerful and romantic city.For
General information, reservations, events, :
Aer lingus operates direct flights to Geneva
Montfrond October 2008
see also Helsinki
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