We left Zurich early in the morning for a flight to Geneva. We did find out later that you can just take a train, but the flight was faster albeit less convenient. Nonetheless, we made it to Geneva easy enough an checked into our hotel. We didn’t bother with AirBnB for one night as most places require a two night minimum, but our hotel was funky and close to the airport. It reminded me a rock hotel in Vegas with its weird lighting, guitars encased in glass and bold colors in the rooms (let alone hallways). But it served for the night.
We dropped our things and headed straight out to sightsee around town. Much like Zurich, there really isn’t a lot to do in Geneva except see things. We first tried to go see CERN, the place that houses the Hadron Collider and mentioned in Angels and Demons as the place that created the “God Particle.” We took the #18 tram all the way out to the boonies only to find out it was closed for the holidays. We had missed it just by a day. But the views on the way up were still breath-taking.
Just a note when visiting CERN, you must bring your passport as identification. So, maybe it was lucky as we left ours back at the hotel.
We hopped back on the tram and headed toward town again to see the Reformation Wall. This was a large marble statue in the center of a park that showed the big Protestant reformers including John Calvin, Theodore Beza, William Farel, John Knox and others immortalized in the same stone wall that were the original city walls. We took several photos but were wary as there were some undesirable characters hanging around this historical monument including a kid who refused to get out the way for some other tourists taking pictures.
From there, it was just a short hike up to see St. Pierre’s Cathedral. On the way though, we did see a plaque on the outside of a restaurant that was a letter signed by President Bill Clinton. We stopped for a few moments and thought why on earth would they immortalize a letter from an American president? But then it clicked that Geneva is the home of the Palace of Nations, which I will get to in a bit.
St. Pierre’s Cathedral was striking, but it was not nearly as ornate as some of the other churches we have seen. But they did have an archaeology tour that takes you through the foundation of the original church built in the 12th century. We walked through for 8 CHF, but we weren’t really sure what we were looking at. The audio tour, which was free with admission, was incredibly slow and rather irritating. We wound up ignoring it most of the time, but also whizzing through the maze because, while interesting to see the original stones, that’s all it was…old rocks in piles.
Suckers for beaches, waterfalls, and all things water, we made our way to Lake Geneva to see the Jet d’Eau. This is a large spout of water that shoots straight into the air at 132 gallons per second over 140 meters into the air. It was originally built to act as a release valve for possible flooding from the lake, but now it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in Geneva. We were lucky enough to catch a rainbow reflecting from the spray just before the wind got too much for the jet to continue for the night.
We had already known that the Palace of Nations was closed for the holidays, but we made our way nonetheless to snap a few pictures of the building. Just outside the fence was a huge sculpture in the shape of a chair with a single broken leg. This is actually a symbol called the Broken Chair built to urge all countries to sign the Mine Ban Treaty and to honor the commitment to help all mine victims and clear mined areas. It was a striking image just outside the building that had dozens of flags lining the grassy thoroughfare.
Just outside the Palace, there was the Museum for Glass and Ceramics or Museum Ariana. It was free to see the displays, so we wandered the halls of this spectacular mansion, which was more impressive than some of the bowls and plates, before we took our tired selves back to our hotel for the night. It was a quick day-trip to Geneva, but we honestly can’t imagine staying for another day. There was barely enough to keep us busy as we meandered from place to place, so just something to keep in mind for you fellow travelers. Unless you want to see the Palace of Nations and water shooting into the air, Geneva can be skipped as you travel through Switzerland.
Our next step on our Christmas journey was a drive to France! That’s right! Drive! Pay no mind to the fact that we haven’t driven in about a year.
Keep reading to find out more about Chamonix et Mont Blanc!