Welcome to 2nd class.

Posted by jswt | Posted in Switzerland - Geneva | Posted on 23-12-2009

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So I spent Tuesday afternoon walking around Geneva’s downtown and never have I had a city make me feel quite so much like a human trashbag.

There is just so much pompous wealth in this city it’s depressing. Everyone’s buried their money here in the private banks that are all over the city centre, and pops in to check on it from time to time and pick up a new fur/facelift/supercar/$50k watch (Piaget/Patek Phillipe/Rolex… line em up!). It seems as well that when you take that wealth and apply a heavy smear of French attitude across the Swiss, it turns into a very strong and unpleasant mix.

The people aside, the city is beautiful – it’s centered around a bay where the Rhone river meets the Geneva lake. It’s all beautiful old buildings over top of winding wonderful alleyways. I wandered up through the UN/WTO area yesterday where there is a fortified zone right up on the hill that you can tell was built hundreds of years ago. No streetfront cafes here, but lots of nice looking restaurants and choclatiers – it’s just unfortunate that they won’t give the time of day to anyone not flashing cash.

When I was taking the train back, I got on with the metro pass supplied by the hotel.
The attendant checked my ticket and said “this is a 2nd class ticket. you need to go 2 trains back”.
That kind of sums up this city.

So yeah — I’m kind of mixed on Geneva…
I think it’s just a very pretty city, full of richly adorned assholes.

Genevaaah.

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Switzerland - Geneva | Posted on 22-12-2009

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Have been in Geneva for just under a week now, and there hasn’t been a huge amount to write about as I’ve been laying low, and just falling back into a life-on-the-road routine.

I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around Geneva, but it’s a strange little blip of Switzerland that’s bordered very closely by France. There’s some Swiss spoken here, but it’s mostly French (and though somewhat spotty, my high-school french immersion has come back really quickly!).

There is a lot of old money here – the UN HQ is here which puts a lot of diplomats in the area, and the whole “swiss banking” thing is in full effect. So the area’s got a serious “facelifts and furs” feel to it.

It’s beautiful though – clean and oldy feeling with the alps looming abruptly in all directions.

The tour was off on Monday, so we took the day and wandered off to one of the 50+ local ski areas. There was fresh snow in the city, and the skies had cleared and lifted above the mountain tops so the 90 minute drive along Lake Geneva was spotted with beautiful old castles, cute small swiss chalet towns and high hill villas. The hill itself was a beginner resort which was good for the crew we rolled out with – snow was decent, but as with most of the resorts around here, they just opened last week and snow base is still low and not too many lifts are open. It was the first time I’ve ever bought my pass and then taken a train up the side of a mountain to the first chair.

The resorts are very different than North American ones… it’s just not such a modernized consumer driven experience. Things aren’t labeled clearly. You take time to get up there. Instead of single peak:resort ratios they have multi-peak multi-base multi-resort sprawling areas. At first I was kind of frustrated and fell into rah-rah North American mode and was thinking “why the hell can’t they get it right?”. Then I realized, they just do it differently and much more relaxed and that unto itself it’s a more appropriate vibe.

Finished riding for the day, stopped for a spot of mulled wine, and then went to a fantastic hot spring resort at the base of a mountain. Sitting outside in a snowstorm soaking in a steaming pool o’ bliss with good people and tired muscles made for one of the best aprez-ski’s I’ve ever had.

Dinner before heading home was a traditional Swiss fondue and a lot more mulled wine.

Slept hard and deep and today is the first day I’ve felt the jetlag completely behind me and that I’m fully in the life-on-the-road rhythm…