Located at the tip of Lake Genève, which forms a crescent, 72 km (45 miles), 14km (8.5 miles) across at its widest point, is the second largest city of Switzerland, Geneva. Few global cities have acquired such a flattering-if well deserved- reputation as Geneva. Despite its small size, the city is at the forefront of global operations. I have been commuting between London and Geneva for the past year, and for some have lived here as an expatriate. Therefore I thought I would mention a few words and share some photos of my time in this beautiful country.
Geneva is home to the European Headquarters of the United Nations, as well as being the Global Headquarters to major organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO), International Red Cross, The IMF, The World Bank and many others. The city has got a laid back style, very old fashioned and almost to the extent that it feels like England in the 1950s. It is a multicultural city but at the same time it’s got that true Swiss feel to it. With ice peaked Swiss mountains in the backdrops of the narrow streets, Swiss Chocolates everywhere, Swiss Watch adverts everywhere, and the sight of all kinds of global banks are in Geneva. Geneva is located in an area of the country where the delightful combination of the ever-changing lake, terraced vineyards and the relaxing landscape all fall under one umbrella, and this city provides a perfect introduction to the rest of Switzerland.
Many globally famous people have fallen under the wonderful spell of this beautiful city, and they have decided to stay: Phil Collins, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Kofi Annan all chose to live here. One thing you do immediately notice about this place, not just Geneva, but in the whole of Switzerland, is that everything is on time. There is a joke among Swiss people that you are only late if anything is beyond 2 minutes, otherwise you are on time! Everything from trains to planes is on time- it goes well with the local culture.
The only problems I have encountered with Switzerland are: 1. It's expensive, 2. People are nice but show that self imposing racist body language.
Yes, it is excruciatingly expensive. For example, you can’t get tap water in restaurants (waiters will stare at you as if you are a Fresh off the Boat (FOB),..they make you buy it in bottles, glass bottles too. US$6 a bottle. Sandwiches cost a mint compared to even places like London (around US$11 for a Tuna sandwich). Living in Switzerland is like living in a post card setting, but also ridiculously expensive and horrifically classist (you have to belong to their special 'Swiss Club' in order to be considered a person of class in Switzerland (maybe because there are too many immigrants here...but something makes me believe that the Swiss are slightly racist...all humans are..but something hidden about this culture in particular). It's like saying 'Yes we are nice people, but you can't get our jobs or passport because you are not real Swiss' (even grandchildren of former immigrants from decades gone by have to go through a rigorous red tape in order to get citizenship). If you thought the US or the UK were bad enough, try coming to Switzerland.
Things to do and see
The Rue du Rhône
Get your shopping basket ready if you want to explore true Swiss shopping. This is the place to go shopping in Geneva. At the Rue Du Rhone you will find all kinds of signature fashion items, ranging from Chanel, Dior, Tod's, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Rolex to name just a few. Shop it the Swiss way- you’ll get more out of this place than just cheese and chocolates!
The Red Cross Museum
As I mentioned before that Geneva is the seat of many international organisations, such as the United Nations. But the most interesting one to see is the Red Cross because this city is the birthplace of the Red Cross. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to this establishment, founded by Henri Dunant in the 19th century. It pays honour to the amazing deeds of men and women who have served civilization with passion and commitment for over a century.
Lake Geneva, it’s Jet d’eau and gardens
It’s well worth taking a long cruise along Lake Geneva. Not only is it romantic, but it also provides an overview of the city, with views of castles, monuments and of course the Jet d’eau. The Jet d’eau is the unmistakable 140 metre tall fountain which can be seen from miles around- it has in time become the symbol of Geneva. Alternatively discover the spectacular flower clock in the gardens of Lake Geneva- it’s so good that the flowers are there bloomed all the time!
Ski resorts and hiking paths
In the Jura Mountains near St.-Cergues, 45 min from Geneva, you will be able to cross country with skis or snow shoes and the kids will have a lot of fun on the kiddie’s hill. Should you want something more challenging Verbier, Gstaad or Champéry in the Swiss Alps and Chamonix and Mégève on the French side will offer you great skiing.
Patek Philippe museum
Switzerland is known throughout the world for its high quality watches. Apart from Rolex and Raymond Weil, the Patek Phillippe is the main museum that houses important collections of horology and enameling of Geneva, Swiss and European origins, from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum also houses a library featuring more than 7'000 works on horology.
An effortless way to travel around the city- you may even be treated to a song by one of the random singers who board the train.
Opera in Victoria Hall
An astonishing concert hall built in honor of Queen Victoria at the end of the 19th century.
On foot, by bike or car, realize the charming historic villages on your way to Dardagny, home to many vineyards. Guests can ascertain themselves with the different types of wine cultivated and of course taste the wine of the region.
Discover Geneva aboard the famous Golden Pass, with panoramic views of the beautiful countryside around Lake Geneva. Guests will visit a number of traditional sites along the way. The first stop being a chocolate factory, where they will enjoy a factory tour and then of course tasting the produce.
whatever sports you would like to practice you’ll find a place to fulfill your passion. From waterskiing or sailing – Geneva Yacht Club is presently the home of the famous America Cup - and swimming in the Lake, to golf, tennis or para-sailing from the Mount Salève, our Concierge are on hand to help.
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