So today I planned to sit down at my laptop and write my blog about my time in Switzerland, the prettiest country I have been so far and a definite favourite. (I clearly have expensive taste because this country is pricey as heck!) Much to my dismay, my charger stopped working and my battery was already a problem. I’m so upset! I am now working on my tablet and hoping I can figure this all out!
Ok, it’s now a few days later and I’m back on my busted laptop… Need a new battery ASAP! Please can it not shut down on me…
Enough ranting. Let’s get to the good stuff!
First Stop: Geneva, Switzerland
I am so lucky to have stayed in an amazing home with a pool! I arrived to a pretty rainy day in Geneva which gave me a bit of time to rest and relax. I was woken up by a knock on my door from a familiar face. My ex-English teacher from high school, Mrs Murray, and her husband were generous enough to open their doors to me.
Going for a walk in the area was well worth it. Mrs Murray jumped into her running shoes and told me to come quickly as there was a perfect view of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps! This was a massive opportunity because the days since it has been covered by clouds. I wouldn’t have even known it was there!
My First Full Day in Switzerland
Next day was for me to explore Geneva, Switzerland on my own. I was told of the buses and trams to take (first time on a tram by the way!). And off I went on my merry way to see the lake I had been so excited to see! I mean really, what’s the point of being in the city and not seeing the gorgeous Lake Geneva or Lac Leman. (Depending on whether you are in Switzerland or France! Clearly both very proud nations!)
I wandered around a park called Jardin Anglais, a favourite spot of mine as I revisited it many times. With a perfect view of the Jet D’Eau, a large fountain in Geneva with a maximum height of water jet of about 140 metres above water level. When it is in operation, at any given moment there are about 7,000 litres of water in the air. I spent a lot of time there chatting to some friends and family back home on the free WiFi and taking photos.
I then walked through to the old town of Geneva to find Saint Pierre Cathedral – my meeting spot with Mrs Murray after she was done with work. I walked for quite a while, wandering around with my Google Maps trying to find this place! I was going in circles for quite a while and eventually realised that I had been standing in front of it the whole time… Needless to say Google Maps wasn’t on the mark with that one!
I was only meeting my lovely host later and since I had found the spot I decided to find the Reformation Wall which was meant to be reasonably close. The Reformation Wall in Switzerland honours many of the main individuals, events, and documents of the Protestant Reformation by depicting them in statues and bas-reliefs. The sculptures were then created by two French sculptors: Paul Landowski and Henri Bouchard.
It was located in the grounds of the University of Geneva. Another beautiful park area where I decided to take a nap.
Following this, I went back to my meeting place and waited for Mrs Murray so we could climb to the top of Saint Pierre Cathedral to see another view of Geneva, Switzerland. It was completely breathtaking.
Going back down to the Old Town we stopped at a cafe for aperitifs and we were spoilt with many snacks while drinking our pretty heavy Gin and Tonic! A nice buffer for the alcohol. We walked a bit more of the city before taking a ferry over Lake Geneva and back towards the tram that would take us home.
Carouge in Geneva, Switzerland
Next day off I went to another area of Geneva called Carouge. As I stepped off the tram I was met with a gorgeous little Catholic Church. I spent quite a while in there gathering my thoughts and praying my prayers before heading through the area.
I have a thing for parks. So that is first on my agenda when I reach a new place and am wandering around alone. I seem to find a lot of peace sitting on the grass and watching people around me. So back on Goggle Maps, I searched for the closest one. I found one that wasn’t too exciting though. I realised I was pretty hungry, so I went in search of good and less expensive food… HAHAHA try find that in Switzerland!
Eventually, after searching for a while, I found a random little taco place where a couple of the local youngsters were. I figured it would be cheaper since it was students buying. I walked it and ordered the cheapest item, a single cheese burger. When it arrived I was AMAZED! It was the size of my hand! I was the biggest, tastiest burger I have ever had, definitely a win! I was completely stuffed after that.
The following day was spent with Mrs Murray. She took me to another spot with a view of Geneva, I am in love with this city. So much space, so much nature, people really look after the environment.
Yvoire, France for a Day
Then off to Yvoire, France, on the banks of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman) we went. Geneva is so close to the French border that it’s quite easy to go across. Yvoire is a small medieval town only accessible by foot. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages of France and the photos will show you why. (Although photos never do enough justice!) I have to say, this place stole my heart.
We walked a bit and then sat down for a bite to eat. Oh my YUM! Give me cheese, cured meats and bread any day and I will be happy! This was too delicious for words. Food is a big deal for me, it can make or break a place. So far, so good!
We continued on our journey of the village and found the local church Saint Pancras which dates right back to the 11th century.
We then walked towards the lake. The view was stunning. I would live here in a moment.
And that was Saturday.
Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland
Sunday was a relatively early one. We woke up for church. It was a great service and I enjoyed the fact that I had gone together with Mrs Murray. There’s always strength in numbers!
Following church we went for coffee then wandered off to the Geneva Street Food Festival which was around the corner. There Mrs Murray left me to check out the goodies as she had some marking to do. (The life of a teacher… Their work is never done! I have so much respect for them.)
I looked around, stared at all of the mouthwatering food and ended up with a couple of slices of pizza in my hand (typical Italian). I went and found another park, as there are many in Switzerland, and ate my goods. Back to the Jardin Anglais park I walked. And this time I decided to get up close and personal with the Jet D’Eau which can be reached via a stone jetty from the left bank of the lake many visitors were surprised to find themselves drenched after a slight change in wind direction!
I went back to the edge of Lake Geneva and dipped my feet in for relief from the end of the hot day. Sunday made!
Geneva, Switzerland – Tram Stop: Nations
Monday was spent roaming the United Nations area and the Botanical Garden of Geneva.
The Broken Chair sculpture was especially moving as the first stop.
With this write up next to it, in this time of uncertainty and violence in our world, I was moved to tears.
Following this, I made my way to the Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de la Ville de Geneve. Or in English – the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva. I took many photos, inside and outside the greenhouses. I even stopped at a small pond with ducks to have my lunch which I had bought from the local grocery store (I had decided not to buy from a restaurant today… Travelling on a budget!)
I ended up on the lake front and decided to go down to put my toes in. Why pebbles! My poor feet were so hot but pained as I walked on the pebbles, either way, I had to at least feel the water.
Quickly jumping back into my shoes I continued through the garden and went home.
An Expensive Lunch in Geneva, Switzerland
Tuesday was spent back at the Jardin Anglais with a walk around the area and a sit down meal of gnocchi with tomato, basil, parma ham and mozzarella di bufala. I decided to treat myself. It was so expensive but totally delicious! I allowed myself one moment of weakness in Switzerland where I gave in to the stupid high price of a meal.
I went back home and had a dip in the swimming pool which was amazing!
Then later Mrs Murray and I took a walk so she could show me the carvings made from tree trunks in the area made by a local artist. Such creativity! I loved seeing these, people can be so inspirational in their works. Just for the love of it!
Another Day in France
Next day off to another spot in the neighbouring France called Annecy. It was on the top of things to do in my area on TripAdvisor so I decided to make a turn. I got completely lost though. Looking for the old town of Annecy, I walked roughly 10km in the wrong direction. I had seen the name Annecy-le-Vieux and thought I was going to the right place, only to find out when I got home that I should have been looking for a place that had been a stone’s throw away from my starting point. Oh the joys of travelling!
I arrived at the top of this mountain, completely lost, and found a church. I walked in and was greeted by a very well dressed man. I sat in one of the pews for a moment. A few seconds later the well dressed man was accompanied by others and was carrying in a coffin. I figured I should leave as they were setting up for the funeral and I was in very casual attire. I had taken some photos of the church and only realised when I got back home that there was something like a halo surrounding it. I guess sometimes we have to get lost to be found. I will remember this moment forever. Even in death there is light!
The next day I started this blog post and got fed up. So I left it until now!
Second Stop: Interlaken, Switzerland
Friday was my next adventure. After only 3 hours of sleep because of sheer nerves! Jumping on a train, I was readying myself for my first stay at a backpackers! I was so nervous as I had booked a mixed dormitory (the all female ones were full up) in Interlaken. I had been told by Mrs Murray and her hubby that this was a definite must see in the middle of Switzerland! So I booked it.
They were not joking. I could have spent all my time there amidst the mountains, forests and rivers. It was totally breathtaking! I met a lovely girl from India, her and I were waiting to check into our rooms so we decided to go for a walk. We went up to Harder Kulm, one of the nearby mountains and took a crazy steep but slow train to the top.
Harder Kulm is a viewpoint at 1,321 metres overlooking the towns of Interlaken and Unterseen. Great first impression of Interlaken, Switzerland.
I was only in Interlaken for one night so made the most of it by going to the Balmers Backpackers’ night club! Haha I lasted there a lot shorter than intended… Headed back up to my room only to find a snoring man ready to keep myself and 2 other girls awake with his noises. I had 3 hours of sleep… Again. 2 nights in a row of this.
Following morning I checked out and made plans with my new buddy from India to head to another group of mountains in the Lauterbrunnen area. Booking our ticket, we were told we would have to walk from the area of Stechelberg further up the mountain to Murren in order to get the cable car back down… No problem! Boy, was I wrong!
The views were amazing. Walking through the mountains was a great experience! But… I had slept terribly and was completely exhausted. My body was angry with each step I took! After 5,5km we finally made it to Murren. It was an UPHILL battle! But I did take some great shots of the mountains, streams and cows along the way. So it was worth it!
Third Stop: Lucerne, Switzerland
Back to the backpackers I went to collect my bags and off to my next stop I headed, Lucerne, Switzerland. I arrived at 9pm to an all female dormitory at the Lucerne Youth Hostel. I loved my roomies here. One Korean girl living in California, one Chinese girl living in Pennsylvania and one Austrian girl there on a conference. Brilliant! And no snoring men! The Chinese girl and I decided to make a plan for a mission the following day and had an early night.
Finally some sleep!
Sightseeing in Lucerne, Switzerland
We woke up on this Sunday morning, had breakfast, and headed for the city sights. We went to The Lion Monument, or the Lion of Lucerne. This is a rock relief that commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris. Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
Following this went off to Museggmauer (Town Walls) to climb one of the towers for a view of the city.
A quick walk to Franziskanerkirche, an elaborate Gothic-style Franciscan church with a large pipe organ & paintings on the walls.
Then off to another church, the Jesuit Church. Switzerland’s first large church in the Baroque style that was built for the Jesuits directly on the left bank of the Reuss between 1666 and 1677. The interior was updated to the Rococo style in 1750, with an outstanding painted ceiling and ornate faux marble side altars.
When we arrived I had been completely distraught emotionally from the loneliness of my journey through Europe. It’s not always fun and games I thought it would be, alas, I was struck with thoughts of “What on earth are you even doing?! Are you sure this is the right move?!”
Sunday’s Miracle in Switzerland
Being a Sunday and knowing I was going sightseeing with my new friend, I had come to the resolve that I wouldn’t be making it to mass. We had reached the Jesuit Church at 14:45, walked around in awe of what people had built and sat in a pew. With my head in my hands and tears streaming down my face I started begging for a miracle. I had noticed the church starting to fill up. (Sheesh, my eyes are watering now just thinking about it.)
I walked to the back of the church and noticed that there was a mass on at 15:00. Wow, even when I thought there was no way I was going to go to mass that day, God put me in the perfect place in His perfect time. I was shocked. I asked my new friend if she wanted to stay or wander around some more but she decided she would stay for the mass. After about an hour of German it was over. I felt like a weight had been lifted. As soon as I walked out of there I had a completely new spirit. I’m not saying I don’t still feel the loneliness but somehow God keeps throwing me little blessings to remember that He is there, always.
The Last Bit of Lucerne, Switzerland
We continued our walk onto Kapellbrucke, or Chapel Bridge. The most characteristic sight in Lucerne, Switzerland a covered wooden bridge running diagonally across the Reuss. Built in 1333, has more than 100 17th-century pictures hanging from the roof rafters inside, depicting patron saints and scenes from the town’s history.
We ended our day off at a park (surprise!) called Ufschotti. There was a mass of people sunbathing, swimming in Lake Lucerne, playing volleyball and practicing the Brazilian martial arts of Capoeira. It was such a great atmosphere filled with music, the smell of barbecues and happy people.
Final Stop: Zurich, Switzerland
Next morning, off to Zurich for my last night in Switzerland. This time I stayed in the Zurich Youth Hostel in a female dorm with only one other person. An Indian doctor who was in Switzerland for a conference and had decided to come a few days earlier to explore. She and I went as quick as we could through the city as I had to be in bed early so I could catch my bus from Zurich, Switzerland to Genoa, Italy at 3:00am.
We decided to check out a few churches, the old town then head to Lake Zurich. A very rushed trip but at least I managed to see a bit of the beauty.
Now I am in Genoa, Italy. Working on my busted laptop hoping it doesn’t crash while I am writing this post! I look forward to doing some good exploring while I’m here for the next few days. I am glad to be back in Italy, after all, it has the best food!