Sunday, November 22, 2009

24 Hours in Geneva

I arrived in Geneva in typical Jill travel style: no plan, no place to stay, no worries. My Denison friends Gill (yes a more creative spelling of my name) & Casey missed their flight from Spain (no fault of their own, stupid cheap airlines) and instead of arriving at one pm they were now getting in at eight, but I wasn't stressed or worried--I knew it was all going to work out. I only get anxious and stressed about changing travel plans when it's something I can control, when the situation is out of my control I am incredibly relaxed even when completely lost. So I wandered around Geneva, explored the city in all it's foggy gloom (not a good way to make a first impression let me tell you) and embarrassingly enough, I avoided people. It's not because I wasn't trying to make friends (I'm always trying to make friends) but it's because I was nervous. Nothing shows your ineptitude at a language than going to a country (or part of a country) where they speak said language. Yes I know this contradicts my excitement over the French article the other day but I realized that I can read it, I can hear it and understand it, but my verbal skills... well they're lacking. I avoided people just in case they spoke to me and I would be forced to respond in French and therefore exposing my terrible pronunciation. Damn.

It did make me think that perhaps I am living in the wrong part of Switzerland to be learning French... My problem is (aside from the paralyzing fear that my native English-speaking ways will be exposed and I will be an outcast in Geneva) that whenever I don't know the word in French I always know it in German and vice-versa. When I'm forming a sentence in French and cannot remember a word, all I can think of is the German word, it clouds my brain and I just start to mumble "Uhh, umm," as if that will let the person know that I'm really trying to remember this word and that I know it, or at least I did at one point! I think if we combined German and French I might be halfway fluent in another language!

So seven hours later I meet Gill & Casey at the airport. Tangent: (Thought people might get sick of my constant tangents so feel free to skip ahead) I have been so fortunate with the friends I've made and the people I've met during my tenure here. They are great, fabulous, fun, funny: all the things you'd want in group(s) of friends, but there is something to be said for old friends. They're like you're favorite shirt, or a security blanket/stuffed animal (which, by the way, I never had. The forgotten youngest child... Jack had a blanket and animal) so comfortable to come back to and you can put them on wherever and instantly feel at ease. Seeing friends from school reminded me that I am not just an au pair--it was comforting and comfortable and a blast.

Alright back to Geneva: We went back in to Geneva and that's when I realized that we didn't have a place to stay. I felt bad because I could have easily found somewhere that day but naturally, I didn't even think about it. We went into a couple of hotels (out of the price range) and eventually found the Geneva Youth Hostel which was awesome. The accommodations were great, the price (including breakfast & public transportation pass!), everything. The woman at the front desk asked if we minded sharing a room with a loud snorer--we all said no, and really, how bad could it be? After dropping our stuff we decided to go out in search for dinner. We found a restaurant serving up typical Swiss fare: fondue and rösti (essentially hash browns & whatever else you want in it) and it wasn't too expensive! We finished around 12:30, found a sketchy shop to sell us two bottles of wine and headed back to the hostel (we thought we might be able to make some new friends--nope) had a bottle and fell into bed around 2 am. We were wondering about the snorer but when we opened the door the room was silent. We all climbed to our top bunks, settled into our beds when we heard it. The loud, guttural snore of what I think has to be the love-child of a black bear and lumberjack. Of course, we started laughing (which did not wake the beast, I mean woman--who also was about 65. Why are you still in the Youth Hostel buddy?) She was also, of course, sleeping directly under me, so I tried to jostle the bed a bit to no avail. It wasn't even one of those snores that you could get used to, it changed pitch, tempo, volume--and after a bottle of wine it seemed even funnier. Eventually we all did fall asleep and woke early Sunday to get started on our Geneva day. Despite the rain we visited the United Nations Headquarters and the Red Cross/ Red Crescent Museum. The RC/RC Museum was terribly interesting and horrifying at the same time. All the services and aid that they provide--pretty incredible (go donate blood/time/money!)--and it makes one want to work for the Red Cross. After that we headed back into the main part of Geneva to look at what all the tourist attractions called this great clock made of flowers. Well we were less than impressed with the clock and more than soaked from the rain so we went back to the hostel got my stuff, grabbed lunch and I made it to my two pm train back to Zürich (I had to babysit tonight).

It was a great weekend and always good to see familiar faces in unfamiliar places!

1 comment:

  1. What a horrible weekend weather wise to go to Geneva! I headed that way but the fog was so bad I had to turn back. There are mountains and a great view of Mt. Blanc somewhere behind all the fog. The clock is much better in the summer when there are flowers