Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Geneva - October 2006

Our short trip to Geneva in Switzerland was wonderful, as expected. We left here on Saturday morning at about 8.30am. My Mum and Hannah were taking care of the kids for the few days that we were away. I was worried about how Luke would cope without me, but he seemed happy enough knowing that we would bring him home a present. Our flight was 2 ½ hours long and we arrived in Geneva Airport at lunch time. We hopped straight onto a train and arrived in Geneva centre 5 minutes later. Steve said that the hotel was near the train station, and as we walked out of the station there was the hotel! Easy as that. Sometimes finding your way around public transport can be a nightmare when you don’t speak the language.
So we checked straight into our 4 star hotel. They gave us free passes for travel by train, tram, bus or boat, which was very handy. The hotel was very nice, and the bed was absolutely massive! Much bigger than our king size.
We spent the rest of Saturday afternoon working out our way around the place and getting our bearings. We were staying in the hotel district, which also turned out to be the red light district at night. Lake Geneva was 2 blocks from the hotel, and the Old Town was just across the Lake.
We spent quite a lot of time over the 4 days around the Lake area. The weather was so sunny and warm (nothing like home!) and it was bliss just to sit by the sailing boats, watching the world go by. The Lake has a man made water jet, which Steve was fascinated by. This jet sprays the water from the lake 140m into the air, using 500 litres of water per second. On the Sunday, when the weather was at its best, and all the local rich people were out in their yachts, Steve got completely soaked by walking on the little pier right up and past the jet, in the hopes of a good photo opportunity. I filmed him getting a good soaking on the camcorder and the kids had a good laugh watching it when we got home.
Most of the shops were closed by the time we made it into the old town on Saturday, so we sat in a cute little street cafĂ© and had ice cream sundaes, whilst watching the tourists and local Genevan’s going about their business. The Old Town is similar in some ways to the old town of Brussels, and in some ways to the old town of Prague. The architecture was awesome, and every little building, whether a grand cathedral, or a block of apartments, were built beautifully with such intricate detailing. Steve must have come home with hundreds of photos of various buildings. Sometimes we could see the locals wondering what on earth we were taking a photo of some old building for!
We found a trendy little place to eat on Saturday evening. It had 4 restaurants but one big seating area. Steve had a Chinese dish, which he even managed to eat with chopsticks, and I had sushi, which was yummy.
Sunday was very quiet in Geneva, the tourist season being over. In the morning we took a little tourist train for an hour and a half tour of various big important buildings. We saw all sorts of places such as the International Red Cross Headquarters. But the best part of this was when the bus took us up to the top of Cologny. Cologny is the Beverly Hills of Geneva. The houses here are owned by the rich and famous, and they all have spectacular views over the lake. At the top of Cologny the bus stopped to let us out for a look at the panoramic view of Geneva and its lake. It was breathtaking. The lake, with the city around it, and the mountains behind. A nice American lady took our photo for us.
Later that afternoon we found St Pierre’s Cathedral in the Old Town. The climb to the top gives a fabulous panoramic view of the city. So we climbed and climbed up the winding castle steps, which were not wide enough for the people coming down at the same time. Steve and I found an open doorway and ended up in the attic space of the cathedral! I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be in there, but it had been left open because there was building and reconstruction work going on. It was the scariest place I’ve ever been in my life! So high up, above the cathedral, in a big old bell tower made of wooden beams and rafters, which looked as if it was going to fall apart. My legs were like jelly and I was really dizzy, so we headed back to the main stairs and found our way up to the top of the turret. Once out in the open turret I was fine (it was solid stone after all) but Steve was really dizzy there! Still, he took plenty of photos and I enjoyed just spending time looking out at the view, which was awesome.
As we came down the steps from the cathedral we could hear something which sounded like monks singing! It was beautiful and echoey. Back in the main part of the church we discovered the Sunday Choir having a practice session, so we sat and listened to them for 20 minutes. It was like a free concert! The singing was very spooky, but very beautiful.
Monday was shopping day. We had to buy presents for the kids. I had phoned Luke on Sunday and he cried and cried and cried! He begged me to come home and said he missed me. Apparently he went to his room and was inconsolable for 2 hours afterwards. But he was more upset that I couldn’t speak to him for long. On the Monday I phoned him from the hotel and talked to him for an hour and he was in good form then. I sent him a text message photo of his presents and that cheered him up. But I felt really bad on Sunday when I knew he was finding it so hard. Anyway, all the big shops were open so we found a big toyshop and bought Luke some little cars, one of those planes that sticks to the bedroom ceiling and flies around, and a little box of Swiss chocolates in the shape of toy cars. It was harder to get something for Sam and Jude, so in the end we just got them touristy t-shirts, caps and chocolates. They were happy enough. The shops in Geneva were VERY expensive, and in all honesty I couldn’t find much to buy. Which meant we didn’t bring any other souvenirs home.
We took a boat tour on Monday morning as well. It sailed around the lake for an hour and a half. The boat was very nice, very posh looking, and it was nice to sit and do nothing whilst sailing around the lake.
In the afternoon we walked around an area called The Grottes, which was behind our hotel. It’s were the ‘real’ people live. There were some very strange looking buildings round this area, and the people who live in them call themselves Smurfs. Around this area were lots of ‘Hookah Bars’. These are little cafes for smoking those big Indian pipes. They looked bizarre from the outside. We also took a stroll around our hotel area as it was full of quaint shops and cafes. Prostitution is legal in Switzerland and in between the nice restaurants and cafes were sex shops and brothels! On every street corner there were girls looking for work, and a few odd looking people that could have been girls or guys!
All in all it was a lovely break. Steve really liked Geneva, he was very taken with it. I think I preferred Prague myself, although Geneva was nice too. But as always, it was nice to get home again, and to see the kids again. I kissed little Lukey from head to toe when we got home and squeezed and squeezed him. Sam and Jude didn’t miss us as much, being that they are older, but they really enjoyed watching the short video of our trip that we made them.


Maddi said...

Can you put some more photos on?

Hazel said...

yes I can. Do you want more??

maddi said...

lol yeah that's why I asked!! hehe

Sharon said...

It sounds like you had a great time. It is lovely to get away alone for a short time, makes you appreciate the children even more when you come home.
The photos were great too.

Hazel said...

Ok Maddi, I'll put some on flikr later on.