Giving Thanks in Genf

Thanksgiving has always been an odd holiday to me. I spent my Thanksgivings, like most others, eating plenty of homemade food that only one’s own family can make correctly. The following days were hectic as I skipped Black Friday shopping to compete in dance competitions. Once I graduated high school and moved away from my dance studio, I knew my Thanksgiving weekends would change dramatically. I never expected to spend one of them I Switzerland though!

Four of us (myself, Gloria, Chelsea, and Kate) arranged to spend our Thanksgiving weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. We left Thursday night and had a little over two full days to explore, returning on Sunday night.

The first adventure was trying to find our hotel. Not actually that hard. We stayed at Hotel Admiral. It was a little pricy (but the cheapest we could find on short notice) but it had a full breakfast and free public transportation cards, so that made up for it a little bit. It was also very close to the town center, so everything was a walkable distance away.

We tried finding food when we got there (around 10:30pm or so) but most places were closed unless we wanted to go into a probably-not-that-sketchy-but-seemed-it type place. We didn’t. We also didn’t have any Swiss Francs (though some places would accept Euros), so we wouldn’t be sure how to pay. But we had some snacks that we got at the airport before we left Berlin and that held us over until breakfast.

The next day we went into tourist mode and headed to the first appropriate location for said mode: the Tourism information place! There we got a ton of maps. I have about 5 maps of Geneva now.
Once we got what we needed from there, we hightailed it to the northeastern area to catch the last tour through the United Nations. I’m not super into things like that, but it was still a really cool place to go to. Chelsea and Kate were definitely the most excited. There was a lot of art around the building from all over the world. One of the installations I really liked was by a German man. I also saw a tapestry of the Temple of Heaven from China and was excited because I was there over the summer.
Once that tour was over we headed to the near-by botanical gardens. They were nice, but not quite as nice as they’d be if we were there earlier in the year. But there were still some trees that had most of their leaves and the plants in the greenhouses were in full bloom. Of course, like many other people who enjoy autumn, we had to spend a good half an hour playing in the leaves. I forgot how much I missed the fall weather and accompanying shenanigans with pretty leaves.

We caught a tram back to a more central part of the city and headed to the other side of the lake to seek out the Flower Clock. It’s very appropriately named as it’s a giant clock made of flowers (just the face though, the arms are large mechanical pieces). I suspect they change the design around often. We wandered around that area a smidge more then headed up the hill that we’d end up climbing at least once a day to various destinations. We sat down and relaxed with some lovely hot chocolate. By the time we were finished we were getting pretty hungry and eventually (after too much thought) ended up at a place where we all got pizza. There were two Americans sitting next to us, one of which leaned over and said “You’re in Switzerland and you’re getting pizza?” I was a little annoyed by that because he had no idea where I had been living for the half a year before that moment or when the last time I had a pizza was. I wanted to tell him to back off, instead I just said “it’s been a while.”

We ended up also visiting the streets around the university that nights. There were quite a few bars and an incredibly large amount of people. Every single place was full to capacity, plus 50. There were so many people standing on the sidewalks that you couldn’t tell when the crowd for one bar ended and the next began.

The next day we started off by wandering near the lake a little bit. The Jet d’Eau (Water Jet) was on, which it wasn’t the day before. Or I didn’t see it at least. There was a surprising number of swans around the area we were at. Also, a surprising number of people swimming. The weather wasn’t freezing cold, but it sure wasn’t most people’s idea of swimming weather. I dipped my feet in and they were definitely ice cold and turning red after a few minutes. Good for those people who jumped in!
We headed to the other side and up that same hill to visit the St. Pierre Cathedral. The inside was like most other churches I’ve seen, and also like many other churches, you could climb the towers to look out over the city. We of course had to do this. The amount of steps wasn’t terrible compared to some, but it’s still hundreds of stone steps in spirals, something I’ve grown to dislike since the first time I encountered them.
Afterwards Chelsea and I decided to check out the underneath of the church. It had been excavated and was massive, showing a huge chunk the church’s original look all the way back to the 11th century! So old.
We reunited with Kate and Gloria to find our next destination: the Reformation Wall. I don’t know much about it, but I assume it had to do with the Protestant Reformation. We walked around the area some more, saw a cute little ice skating rink, and proceeded to the Art History Museum. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’m not a huge museum person. This one was particularly odd. We couldn’t quite figure out how the pieces were organized (it was by time period or origin) and the different exhibits didn’t seem to flow together. It wasn’t terrible though, I’m just not the person to ask about museums. I think I’ve hit my saturation point with them.

We ended up heading back toward that same hill again for dinner. This time we went to Chez Ma Cousine. It was a tiny restaurant whose main dish was half a grilled chicken, a mound of potatoes, bread, and salad. It was only 14 CHF (about $14)! You could also get their sauce, which was a gravy-ish sort of thing that was also super tasty. We ate nearly everything in front of us and just about rolled down the hill back to our hotel.

Our final day we just putzed around until checkout, then putzed around the area. We sat for a few hours near the lake and just talked over some coffee and hot chocolate. We also picked up some last minute souvenirs before finally heading back to the airport. Our obligatory souvenirs included Swiss chocolate and Swiss army knives.
The weekend in Geneva was a great break, but as we reached the airport we were thrown back into the reality of all that we had yet to do. We sat down and all began reading our assignments for our classes as we waited to board. It was overwhelming to think about all the work we had yet to do as the semester starts wrapping up. It’s manageable, but it’s still a butt ton of work.

As usual, here are some pictures. However, also as usual, some of them won’t upload. I’m not entirely sure why that happens.

Outside of the United Nations DSC_0049 The broken leg is to symbolize the danger of land mines. Various conference rooms in the UN. DSC_0060 DSC_0061 DSC_0065 This ceiling was my favorite! DSC_0083 DSC_0084 The tall tower on the right is from the USSR celebrating the start of space travel. The globe on the left weighed a 8 tons and moved at one point, but the motor broke in the 60s. DSC_0096 This room has remained almost unchanged since the end of the League of Nations. The doors near the windows have not been opened since. The personification of the 5 continents working together. Red Cross museum, unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Botanical Gardens DSC_0117 DSC_0122 DSC_0131 As with most people in the fall, we had to take lots of pictures with the leaves. DSC_0213 DSC_0239 DSC_0253 DSC_0257 DSC_0278 DSC_0286 Lake Geneva DSC_0292 One of the more main streets in Geneva. DSC_0304 The hill we walked up at least once a day. Some darn good hot chocolate they have there. I don't know what this was because I speak no French (which all the signs were in) and didn't think of having my friend translate them. DSC_0323 DSC_0327 DSC_0329 It was not warm. DSC_0344 DSC_0352 DSC_0357 DSC_0358 Swan butt. This little boat took us across a small section of the lake and was considered public transportation. DSC_0367 DSC_0371 DSC_0372 DSC_0376 St. Pierre Cathedral DSC_0383 DSC_0384 Those Russian Orthodox churches sure do blend right in. Inside, in between the cathedral towers. DSC_0393 DSC_0397 The Reformation Wall DSC_0405 Ice skating! Something I am not good at. DSC_0411 I was not the only one working on a cross-cultural experience. The the Art History Mueseum DSC_0425 The main meal this place served was half a grilled chicken and a mound of potatoes (also came with bread, salad, and their own sauce which was super tasty). Party in our shower! It changed colors. The only thing missing was some fun music. I refused to buy one for my house under the grounds that they are super annoying.