June 15 - Day 8 - Geneva, Switzerland
We made our way back to the train and continued on to Geneva. We arrived a little after 3:00 PM. We weren’t staying overnight so we had to see what we came to see pretty quickly in order to continue on to our next stop. It was a little overcast, but it wasn’t raining finally. We felt it would be easier to navigate the city without our bags so we attempted to find a locker in the train station. Most of the train stations in Switzerland had this as an option, but we hadn’t used one up to this point. The price was 7 Swiss Francs, about $5, so we decided we would just carry them.
Geneva is a much larger city then the others we had been to so we needed to take a bus to get to the sights we wanted to see. There were a lot more cars in Geneva than the rest of Switzerland. The traffic was really bad and slowed us down a lot.
Unlike the western and central portions of Switzerland, in this region most of the people spoke French, however, everyone said “merci” regardless if French or German was their first language. This gave me an opportunity to use my French language skills, although most the people spoke French, German, and English, some even spoke Romanisch, a form of Italian spoken mostly in the southern region near St. Moritz, which we would be going to later in our trip.
Geneva is a city known for it’s support of human rights, international treaties, banking industry, and being very multinational. Our first stop was the League of Nations building. This is where important political figures come to discuss important events taking place around the world and how to solve them. We were unable to go inside, I think it’s restricted to visitors or maybe you can go on a tour. Either way, we didn’t have time to do anything except see it. In the front of the building is a huge square with water fountains shooting out of the ground. In the middle is an enormous three-legged chair, it’s probably 50 feet high at least.
Down the street from the League of Nations was the Red Cross building. There are Red Cross locations all over the world, but this is their headquarters. Inside is a museum that we were able to get in free to with our Swiss Passes. We were able to leave our bags behind the counter for free while we walked around, which was great because my bag was heavy and I didn’t feel like trying to walk in a crowded museum with a backpack on.
As a whole the museum was a pretty big disappointment. It’s a museum, so that was strike one on the fun factor, but there wasn’t much to it. Usually you can see neat artifacts or something of interest, but this was basically an empty building with a few posters on the wall explaining the mission of the Red Cross with important events in time that they have contributed their efforts towards. It was lame, good thing we got in free.
There was also a short movie you could view in one of the rooms. It was basically a slide projector that you would see in 1980s. The video made no sense at all, it was terrible and strongly not recommended. Overall the museum was boring, but at least I can say I’ve been there. The one cool part was a sculpture in the front of the building depicting a group of people blindfolded. I’m sure there is some significance to this, but I’m not sure what it was.
As we were trying to leave the museum a television crew was filming a promotion at the front door for the Euro 2008. There were other people trying to leave as well. Since we had limited time to see everything before our train left we needed to find a way out. We waited around for a few minutes and then someone that worked there directed us to the back door.
It was already 5 PM and our train to Martigny was scheduled to leave at 6:10 PM. The last thing we wanted to see was Jet D’eau, a fountain that shoots out of Lake Geneva. In order to get there we had to cross the street and get on a bus to take us all the way across town.
We didn’t know which exit to get off, but we could see the lake from the bus. We thought the bus would drop us off close to the water’s edge, but that wasn’t the case. We ended up taking the bus a little further than necessary and had to back track. It only spent about 10 minutes looking at the lake. It was very pretty and seemed like a great place to hang out.
It was now 5:45 PM and we needed to get back to the train station. We figured it was about a mile away, but just to be safe we wanted to take a bus. We looked around for a few minutes but couldn’t find a bus stop. We figured this was a popular destination and there would be one near by, oh well. We didn’t have time to wait around. Traffic in the city was really bad anyway, so we figured if we got on a bus we wouldn’t be going any faster than walking. I figured we were going to be able to see everything in just a few hours and then have to wait around for the train, but now we were almost to the point of running out of time.
We had 20 minutes to walk to the train station, which we didn’t really know where it was, and board the train. This was just like the Amazing Race!
"Nexte Halte, Martigny..."