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Monday, 18 June 2012

Genève, c'est genial!

Hello everyone!

We're having a brilliant time so far in Switzerland. Geneva is beautiful and now we're in Lausanne (which is based on the same massive lake as Geneva - Lac Léman or Lake Geneva) which seems equally impressive.

We've fitted in quite a lot today which was nice after a less active day yesterday, and the weather continues to be fucking incredible. We are very lucky people.

What we've noticed is that while Spain and Italy were similar in certain respects, for the same things Switzerland has been quite different so far. It's pretty interesting, and it's a nice change, so we've been getting used to that.

We're also now in a different hostel (obviously) in Lausanne, so there's plenty to tell you about with regards to that.

So let's get through this shit! You can see how much I want to catch up...



The duvets...oh my god I died.

That was a really good night's sleep. Best thing ever.

Sam woke me up...he'd already had a shower. He told me that it was amazing, and when he says it (with the shower he has at his house that really IS fucking great), he means it.

I got in the shower.



I fucking love showers like that. I want that shower. Please!!!

It was 10 times better than the best shower we've had on the trip before that. The temperature of the water actually stayed stable from beginning to end! You could select the pressure to the finest detail!

So anyway, moving on...

Sam checked all his internet stuff in the lobby of the hotel while I was in the shower, and I went down after and looked up the best places to visit in Geneva. After this, we decided that we would check out of the hotel seeing as we would miss the check out time if we left our stuff in the room when we were out. So we packed up all our stuff and did that, leaving our massive rucksacks in the luggage room which was free for us to use.

While we were out, we had to carry our water bottles in a plastic bag since we lost the shoulder bag, while I had my camera in my pocket and Sam had his round his neck.

We got the tram down to the city centre, which took about 10 minutes. This was actually the first time I'd been on a tram (I think; I can't recall a previous time) so that was pretty cool.

Here's one of the Geneva trams:

When we got off, we saw something awesome. Or at least I did - Sam probably wasn't as excited about it as I was.


We read what was written on the labels (you might be able to see them on here), and it said 'Je suis
à vous', meaning 'I'm yours'. It was basically saying that it was free for anyone to play, and there was a website where you could upload your photos and stuff of you playing it.
Oh my god!!
A woman was also looking at the piano. I asked her if she thought that I could play it and she said yes because the label was saying that I could.
So I took of the plastic cover.
There was a fucking padlock on it.
Where's the key????????? Where's the fucking key????????
Me and this woman searched all over and we couldn't find it.
Why is the trip doing this to me?! Why???? I get so close to a piano and then I'm unable to play it. *Mega sad face*
We were coming back to this tram stop later anyway so we could see if it would be open. But we didn't hold our breath.
So after this mini-trauma, we headed up a road to the first place we wanted to visit, which was Geneva's cathedral.
Just before we got there, we found a small area which had canons and mosaics in. There was a city tour guide speaking to tourists there at the time, but I think they were speaking German or something because I couldn't understand them.
Here are a couple of pictures from there:
One of the mosaics:

One of the canons:

From what I remember, the canons were from some battle that happened in the Middle Ages.

It's useful information I'm providing here.

The cathedral was just a walk up one more small street. And here it is from the outside:

Roman columns made it a bit unusual!

An interesting blue arch thing.

We headed inside, there was no entrance fee (which seems to be very common in Switzerland, whereas in Spain and Italy they would try to get money off you any way you could) so it would be worth it.

Here are some images of the inside:

MASSIVE organ.

We didn't spend too much time in here because, to be honest, there wasn't a lot to look at. One of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation was based in Geneva, and this became his adopted church. I think I am right in saying that Protestant churches are generally much less decorative than Catholic churches (Protestants believed that material things drew people's attention from God and living by the right principles), so in general they are more simplistic. A lot of the cathedrals we have visited on the trip have been Catholic, so there was more to look at and take interest in, which is why they took longer to visit.

Once we left, we headed in the direction of a Russian church, which was meant to be very unique in the area and beautiful. We had a little bit of a walk though. Here's some photos we took on the way so that you can see what the Geneva streets are like:

Firstly, the outside of the cathedral from a couple of different angles:

A view over the rooftops that we encountered. You can see the water jet (or 'jet d'eau') from here, Geneva's most famous attraction.

Typical streets and stuff:

It was so nice to just roam the streets. There was such a different atmosphere to how it was in Spain and was so quiet; tranquil. Even important places and buildings weren't bustling with tourists. And it felt really safe too.

After taking a few wrong turns, we eventually got to the Russian church, which was smaller than expected. Still, it is a beautiful building.

We did go inside (it was free, yay), but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos.

The inside was very intricate and detailed. There were many decorations, especially those based around the Russian cross (which has another smaller horizontal-ish beam going across at the bottom...use Google Images if you don't know what I mean!) and there was a lot of incense being burnt. Despite being very small, it still had a font and an altar; all of the basics. I wish I could have shown you photos because it's very difficult to describe with words, especially with the complication of memory too. But it was a really nice experience.

Next up: a random building.

This was Sam's choice: a building designed by Le Corbusier, an architect he likes.

On the way, we took some more photos:

We walked through a mini park.


The water jet.

We eventually found the building, and Sam took plenty of photos. It seems that there was something interesting about this building. At least I hoped there was.

We walked around the outside of the building, with Sam taking some photos and stuff.

And then the next stop was the Jardin Anglais, or English Garden. This was by the lake, which we hadn't actually been up close to yet. Which was pretty funny considering it's the main feature of the city.

More intermediary photos:

Nice buildings!

An interesting sculpture.

We got to the gardens and saw the lake, with all the boats moored nearby.

Sam described this as the perfect photo, with the Swiss flag, the boat called Geneva and the water jet all combined!

We sat down in the park for a little, planning our next move. I really wanted to see more of the lake, so we decided to walk alongside it for a while and see what we came across.

So many boats!

One of a few statues situated on the lakeside walk.

 We found the water jet!

We then saw that you could walk up a little promenade thing jutting into the lake, which brought you up close to the water jet.

Here is an assortment of wildlife at the beginning of the promenade.


The jet.

As we found out from a sign, water leaves the nozzle at 200 km/h (124 mph). Don't wanna get in the way of that then!

The wind was so strong; it was ridiculous. We could barely stop to take photos because we thought that the wind was going to blow us into the water. Here's me getting buffeted:

There was an extended bit to the promenade which you could walk on and get soaked by the water jet (due to the wind). I would have walked on it but the wind was very strong and kept slightly changing direction, which was a bit unnerving. I also had plenty of electrical equipment with me, so it probably wouldn't have been a good idea in that respect.

After this, we continued our walk by the lake until something caught our eye.

There was a little beach! Or 'mini plage' as it was called.

While I wanted to carry on exploring further alongside the lake, Sam was quite tired and wanted to have a rest/sunbathe on the beach. So we decided to split up for an hour maximum so we could each do what we wanted, and we'd meet back at the beach.

I headed up the street a little, until I saw a park that I'd seen on the map earlier. I thought I might as well have a look around.

It was fucking worth it.

What a beautiful place. And this was just by the entrance!

I followed a random path into an area shaded by trees. Luckily we'd both put on sun cream earlier on, so sun exposure wasn't such a big deal, however it was still refreshing to get into the shade.

And then something completely unexpected and out of context happened.

I was just walking along when a man walked past me and said "Hi".

I said "Hello" back, just to be polite. Aww, aren't they nice in Switzerland.

Then, just as I turned back, he said "How are you?".

We both stopped and looked at each other.

"Yeah I'm fine thanks."

Wow, this goes beyond the boundaries of normal stranger to stranger social interaction.

Did he think I was someone else or something?

He then said "Good. Do you need anything?"

"No, I'm fine thanks."

(In a more hushed voice) "Oh, you don't need any drugs or anything like that?"


"No, I'm ok thanks."

"Ah ok, bye!" *Shakes my hand*

"Yeah, see you later..."

What the actual fuck. I'd just been offered drugs by some random stranger in an beautiful park.

I can't believe I shook hands with this guy!

So that was a bit weird. I didn't feel threatened at all; it was just a bit of a shock to be honest!

So after this ordeal, I continued my walk through the park. Here are some more pictures:

I ended up back at the entrance, so I thought I'd head back towards the beach in a roundabout way.

I hope you like pictures...

The mini-plage again.

I'm glad there's one ecologically-minded person in this city...

I met back up with Sam, who had conveniently just finished sunbathing, and we went back to the English Garden, which we hadn't really walked through yet - we'd just sat down on a bit of grass.

We found a fountain...noticed the two kids splashing each other bottom-right!

An interesting wooden sculpture. This was made up of three symbols that we'd seen quite a lot around Geneva... an eagle, a key and a lion.

A grass-clock thing.

The National Monument of Geneva.

Around this time, we heard a police siren go past us. It wasn't an ordinary siren started of with the usual two notes, but then it suddenly changed pitch and started going really weird. I swear it was just blasting our random ended up sounding like some demented ice-cream van. So that was pretty crazy.

From here, we decided to head back to the hotel. We'd seen all of the things we wanted to and we needed to get to Lausanne where our hostel was booked for tonight, so we went to the tram stop.

The piano still wasn't open We'd seen another one of those ones on the way too; that wasn't open. For fuck's sake. If the piano is for me then why can't I play it? False advertising.

We got on the tram back towards the hotel. We were both pretty hungry at this point...all I'd had to eat was an apple and Sam had only had a few biscuits. We'd been very reluctant to buy food in Switzerland due to the fucking extortionate prices, but we had to eventually.

We wanted to find a cheap supermarket to get stuff, but there didn't seem to be one.

But when we got off at our stop, we remember a place we could eat. It was directly in front of us as we crossed the road.

Guess where it was!

The clues are: it is generally cheap, one meal will give you almost all of your guideline daily amounts of everything (which was good for us) and there is generally very little delay before getting your food after you've ordered it.

...Yes, it was McDonald's.

Fuck my life.

Just a quick note before I start talking about prices, although they accept Euros quite often Switzerland, the main currency is Swiss Francs. 1 euro is equivalent of 1.1 Swiss Francs. To get these, we had to withdraw from a cash machine or change at the hotel.

We saw what we had been getting recently, the Chicken and Bacon McWrap (I can't believe I'm saying what I 'usually' get, fuck this shit), and it cost 11,60 Swiss Francs. Wait, what? That's more than 10 euros. In Spain and Italy, it only cost us 7,50 euros. Shit.

In total it would have cost us about 25 Swiss Francs, which was crazy.

Then we saw on the menu some cheaper stuff. There were these chicken burger things for 3 euros, and they looked reasonably-sized. We were fucking hungry, so we ordered two of these each, as well as fries and a drink for us both.

This came to like 26 euros somehow. Oops.

And this time, false advertising really was at play. These chicken things were so much smaller than they looked on the board.

But after the meal, we did feel satisfied, and it turned out that the meal lasted us the whole night.

After being fatties, we went back to the hotel, picked up our stuff and got the tram to Geneva train station.

Here's where I have a bit of explaining to do. As you might have noticed, I haven't mentioned making a reservation for this train. This is because we didn't have to.

In Switzerland, you can go ANYWHERE with just an InterRail ticket. You don't need to pay any extra costs, you don't have to reserve your seats, and you can just hop on and off where you want. The way it should be.

It's actually like this in most European countries, it's just Spain and Italy who are complete fucking money-grabbing bitches that force you to reserve and pay a fee.

So when we got to the station, we looked for a train to Lausanne (we knew they went very frequently) and headed up to the platform. When we were up there, we double-checked with a member of staff that it would be ok to just go on the train with the InterRail ticket, and he said that it would be fine, and the same applies anywhere in Switzerland. Apparently they don't even do reservations at all.

So the train came, and we got on for our half-an-hour journey. Once again the view was stunning. We got our tickets checked and everything was fine, so it was all good.

When we got off at Lausanne, we looked at the directions to our hostel. We had to get the metro, then the bus and then walk for a bit. Sounds nice and easy...

When I read the directions, I was surprised that there was a metro in such as small place as Lausanne, considering that somewhere like San Sebastian in Spain which is probably about twice the size of Lausanne doesn't have a metro system.

But this was no ordinary metro.

Sam took a picture of it with his iPhone, which is having problems uploading photos, so I'll show you a picture from the internet. It's fucking crazy:

This photo is not slanted in any way. The metro travels at a 12-degree angle!

Not only that, but some of the place names are pretty funny. 'Ouchy' and 'CHUV'.

After I asked someone in French (in case you didn't know, this is the first language in the part of Switzerland, although pretty much every Swiss person speaks at least 3 languages) how you buy tickets because we hadn't gotten any and couldn't see any machines. And we didn't want to get a fine again...imagine how much it would be in Switzerland if in Italy it was 50 euros each!!

We got two tickets and took the metro for two stops to 'Délices'.

From there we found the bus stop for the bus we needed to get, but the ticket machine didn't accept notes and we didn't have enough coins.

Luckily, a stranger waiting in the stop noticed our predicament and gave us change for our note, and also showed us what to do with the machine. Nice people!!

I have to say, the public transport system in Switzerland is incredible. Everything is so well-connected and very eco-friendly. There are trams, buses and trains everywhere. I think I read somewhere that Switzerland has the largest density of rail network (i.e. the most rails in the country's area) in Europe, or in the World. Not quite sure. But that would make sense.

Once we got off at our stop, the hostel was not hard to find. It was only about 200 yards away.

We checked in, and because we had Youth Hostel International cards (this was the first official youth hostel we had encountered), we got some money off our stay! Yes, the cards were worth getting!

We got our door keys and all the wifi stuff, as well as a Lausanne transport pass which allows you to use any public transport (shit they're generous with that in Switzerland). We then made ourselves at home in our dorm, where two other people are staying, and came back down to the lobby use the internet.

And that more or less brings you up to date!


This is Jack from the future again.

So this was 16th June. It is now the 18th, although for me it is still the 17th because I haven't gone to sleep. So I'm basically only a day behind now!! Yay! That means that if I do two blog posts tomorrow, I will have completely caught up. Not gonna promise anything though!

This was an amazing day. I love Geneva as a city, the atmosphere is incredible (despite the occasional drug dealer). There is also plenty to see, and the lake provides an incredible backdrop. What a place.

We didn't get to see too much of Lausanne on the day of this blog post, however I can tell you that it is just as impressive. The next blog post should be just as good and with lots of pictures again, so look out for that tomorrow.

This is the latest I've stayed up for a while...but it was worth it to get this post done. It's a very good feeling. And we don't have to get ready for anything specific tomorrow morning, so I might get a well-earned lie-in too.

So stay tuned for more stuff from Switzerland tomorrow, and thank you for reading!

Au revoir.

Jack - 18/6/12 - 02:46 in Lausanne, 01:46 in the UK

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