End of August we took a spontanenous trip to Geneva in Switzerland. Geneva is a truly multinational city, a financial hub located right in between Switzerland and France. It is a neural network of diplomacy, with many NGOs, the U.N. and the red cross located here. It hosts the highest number of international agencies in the world. And it is home to the CERN and their Supercollider (LHC). Something I had wanted to see for a long time.
- Just a short weekend. Departure late on Friday evening, plenty of time to get off work, head home and pack your bags. Return Sunday afternoon.
- Air Berlin had so great flight slots / times and the prices were amazing. Too bad they are gone now.
We landed late on Friday, close to midnight. Public transport is good in Geneva, so getting to the city was no issue even at that time. I would avoid taxis – prices are really very very high. Taxis in general [not recommended] if you are on a budget.
Saturday morning we searched for a breakfast place nearby our hotel. We stayed at the IBIS centre lac in the red light district. Actually we didn’t mind, but you will see several ladies looking for work (at all times of day). The whole area is also a bit run down. If you dislike this sort of stuff, stay elsewhere. But price was quite good and the hotel was clean and quiet. There are lots of nice cafés and bakeries nearby. We just wanted a croissant and a coffee so we picked the Café Arts.
Afterwards we headed straight for the CERN, as I had read the tours don’t go on Sundays. (Not sure – you should verify this). We actually had not booked a tour in advance.
That was a huge mistake. We just got very lucky because the lady at the counter was super sweet and gave us a slot in a full group. Otherwise no chance. You must go with a tour (it is free) and you should. Our guide was just so-so (they are actual researchers at CERN, ours was just more of a scientist than a tour guide) but the content was amazing! The CERN is so much more than just the LHC. You will see a great exhibition and get to see one of the older colliders as well and of course make a stop at the ATLAS detector – one of the most important measuring stations and the place where the Higgs Boson was confirmed. I have rarely been more impressed by a place. If there is one thing you see in Geneva – see this. One of the very few achievements of humans creating more than the sum of its parts…
After visiting the CERN we took the train back to the city center (again – stick with the trams – perfectly convenient).
We made a stop at Bunswick Monument, which actually is a mausoleum. And then headed onward for a walk along the lake in the sun and got a small lunch. Geneva offers so many great sights, but you should never miss out just walking along lake geneva and looking at Jet d’Eau. Ideally do this from a boat. Don’t book a tour – just take one of the normal water shuttles that run across. They operate pretty much like a normal bus or tram.
We had perfect weather and really wanted to go for a swim, so in the afternoon we took one of the water taxis over to Genève-Plage. You can combine this perfectly with a picnic in the sun. Which is what we did: Swiss Cheese, French Wine & baguette and some fruits. Restaurants in Geneva are expensive, this way you have the perfect dinner for a reasonable price.
We stayed at Genève-Plage until sunset (they close at 7:30) and then walked back around the eastern shore. It is a slightly long, but beautiful walk with many locals BBQing, listening to music or just enjoying the lush summer evening. You also come by Jet d’Eau again, which is illuminated nicely at night and a run through the water is an absolute must when you are there. 😉 This way back also takes you to the Jardin Anglais and the Flower Clock. Again something I liked better in the evening for a good picture. You will come by quite a few beautiful buildings on the way back as well.
The next morning, on Sunday, we got up very early and went for a light breakfast to head quickly into Old Town as the weather was supposed to get worse in the afternoon. This way the area was almost empty and we took a quick tourist train to get up the hill and to St Pierre Cathedral. You definitely must go up the bell tower – you get a beautiful view across the entire city:
The old town itself is very impressive, so we just strolled through the streets for a while, and made a coffee stop here and there. Don’t miss out on the Reformation Wall if you care just the slightest bit about history. Farel, Beza, Knox and of course Calvin and their legacy have shaped the Europe we live in today.
After returning back from old town to Genève-Mt-Blanc, we took a tour bus to the Palais de Nations. There you will find the headquarters of the U.N., the Red Cross and many other international associations. And the broken chair monument. Sadly we did not have time for a more detailed tour in that area. That is something I would recommend to invest one day more for.
After this we headed straight for the airport and back home.
- Jet D`Eau at night and day (very different, both nice)
- Cityscape from atop of St. Pierre
- The streets of old town
- The park and area around the University and Reformation Wall
- The city facades, particularly alongside Lake Geneva
- Amazing Tech Shots at CERN
- Book tickets for CERN very early and long in advance. They sell out weeks before.
- Hotel booking in advance recommended to cut cost
- Check the routes and schedules of the water taxis and public transport. You can time it quite well.
- Overpriced Taxis
- Overpriced Restaurants
- Geneva is a very safe city, so other concerns
[Trip Date: 08/2017, Duration: 2 days, Vacation Days: 0]