Pulgarita traveled to...

One day in Geneva, Switzerland

Hey all! It’s June and it’s super warm in Portugal, and by now I should be writing already about London (I was there in June two years ago), but that will come later. What better to cool down all the heat by writing about this country with wonderful mountains? I went there in May 2013 and it was super warm in Portugal and at last minute I thought, maybe I should take my winter coat. Best decision ever. The cold didn’t discourage us and I had a blast. I was based in Luzern every day which was super convenient since it’s a central city but the first city I truly explored was Geneva. Let’s find out about it, shall we?

First things first, since we would travel quite a lot by train and the train connections are excellent, we decided to buy a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass. I truly reccommend this if you are going to be based in only one city and make day trips from there. The price seems off-putting (CHF 251 if you’re over 26, which I wasn’t then, so I paid CHF 213. However, let’s think in euros, it’s 195€!) but it’s totally worth it because you have free public transportation in 75 cities, either by bus, tram or boat too, free entrance in many museums, and even some trains that go up the mountains are included. If I had bought a round trip ticket from Luzern to Geneva in second class, that would be already CHF 158! The train ride takes 3 hours and you can totally see the change in architecture as you are coming into the French-speaking part of the country, with lovely houses everywhere. Arriving to Geneva, you will see it’s a very multicultural city and also hear a lot of Portuguese. When I went there, the super famous singer Tony Carreira was going to perform soon.

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Train ride to Geneva, looking over the lake. Photo by A Pulgarita

The first thing we did was to stroll along Lake Geneva. I couldn’t help to notice Jet d’Eau, the artificial geiser in the lake that became one of the most well known attractions. It goes as high as 140 meters and it’s a nice (or wet) try to get closer to the fountain. Anyway, the garden is nice to look at and you already get the feel of how rich the city is, with adverts from all the luxury jewelry and watch companies. Also it seems that the view to the Alps is beautiful but it was super cloudy then as you can see.

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Next it was time to walk towards the Old Town to see the Cathedral of St. Pierre. This is Calvinist cathedral, one of the major branches of Protestantism. I really liked the Calvinist cathedrals I saw in Switzerland because they are so simple and different in architecture to the Catholic ones. We could also visit the caves of the cathedral, showing the remaints of the buildings that existed right where the Cathedral is from the Roman Empire. We walked across very well kept streets and even more rich buildings. Also saw some hydrangeas, a flower which we associate a lot with the islands of Azores.

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St. Pierre Cathedral. Photo by A Pulgarita
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Beautiful vitrals. Photo by Pedro Martins

In order to know a bit more about the Protestant Reform and Calvinism, we went to the International Museum of the Reformation since it was also included in the Travel Pass. I thought the museum is really well constructed, with animations of the most important reformists and in the end showing in how many branches the Christian religion is divided. There are thousands of them!

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It was time to walk a bit again! We went to the Reformation Wall, where the main reformists are depicted in sculptures, and also talking about Christian churches, we went to the Orthodox church. I have only been to two Orthodox churches (the other one was in Leipzig, Germany) and all the ex-Soviet Union countries are places I look forward to go, so I can see plenty of these golden domes.

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To finish the day, we went to the outskirts of the city to see the United Nations headquarters. It is stunning to see such an improtant organization and pass through buildings of other powerful organizations. It really looks like it’s the capital of the world! And as a good science geek, I went even more to the outskirts to see the CERN from outside. It’s also impressive to think of how much power and discoveries about the smallest particles of the Universe are made under this ground.

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All the flags! Photo by Pedro Martins
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CERN, accelerating science. Photo by A Pulgarita

What are your favorite things about Geneva? And what other places in the French speaking cantons of Switzerland should I go to next time? 

Cátia

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