A Few Days in Geneve or Sometimes You Have To Pay

Welcome to Geneva! Situated along the banks of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps, Geneva sparkles as one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Home to the European headquarters of the United Nations, Geneva has a long history of diversity and tolerance dating back to the Protestant Reformation. Today, the city of Geneva is a cultural center second to none featuring world class entertainment, top rated restaurants and unlimited opportunities for recreation.

-- Geneva.info

Geneve was the first stop on my Swiss itinerary and I ended up getting here a bit earlier than I expected so in the last minute attempt to find someone to stay with, I sent out a few last minute couchsurfing requests before I left Metz in the morning. After a quick stop in Basel, I arrived late afternoon and went out to find a Regus office so I can check my email (little did I know that Starbucks just south of the train station has free WiFi).

CouchSurfing, Hostels, and Hotels in Geneva

Once I found the Regus office, I was finally able to check my email only to find out that there was no response from anyone. Sucks.

Oh well. Plan B - the hostels.

Turned out that there were only a couple of them and neither had a room available for the night.

Shoot. It was starting to look bad.

Checking the hotel prices, I could not find anything cheaper than 150 CHF/$160 for a night within the 30 miles of city center… Wow.

Finally, I was able to find a room for 109 CHF/$115 on Priceline, right by the train station so I went ahead and booked it.

The adventure continued as I got to the hotel and was told that the room had 'a problem' with it and they were sending me to their sister property just down the road, which was a three-star hotel and I would get a free room upgrade. An upgraded room at a three star hotel turned out to be a very old, small room with no bathroom or shower, and a TV set from the 70s.

In the end, I had a place to stay for the night and moved to a hostel next day. This just shows how one should not rely entirely on couchsurfing (I was actually very disappointed with the reply rate in Switzerland) and have a backup plan in mind. Sometimes it works and sometimes you just have to pay.

Chocolates and the sugar coma

Well, after all of that, I figured I would treat myself. And what better treat there is in Switzerland than chocolate? Unfortunately, I had not a slightest clue of what would be a good brand, so I just grabbed five different kinds at a grocery store.

Back at my hotel, I had a little tasting of all five with some tea and promptly passed out for the night.

Geneve's highlights

The next morning I stolled around the old town for a bit before making my way uphill to St. Peter's cathedral. There, for a modest price of 5 CHF/$5.50, one can hike up a few flights of stairs (ok, more than just a few) to the top for some awesome panoramic views of the city.

It was a nice, although a cloudy day, so the iconic Jet d’eau fountain was spewing its waters 140 meters up in the air with the crystal blue lake Geneve in the background and the roofs of the old town in the foreground.

The transportation system in Switzerland is very expensive so in many cities hotels and hostels provide tourists with day passes for public transport. I used it here and there, but for the most part I got around by foot since everything is pretty close and the views are amazing, especially, anywhere near the lake.

In the afternoon, I stolled along the lake past botanical gardens to the United Nations european headquarters and ended up getting there just a couple of minutes after the last tour started so I was not allowed to get in.

Confusingly, the entrance is actually pretty far 'around the corner' from the main entrance so it took me a while to walk there and then to walk back to catch the tram back to the hostel.

In the evening, I went out back to old town to try and find La Treille - the longest wooden bench in the world. At over 120 meters/400 feet long, it was built way back in 1767.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and was not able to visit and tour the CERN. Oh well, something left for the next time!