So, the whole reason we got to go to Europe was because Eric had a conference to attend in Geneva. Switzerland has been on the top of our travel wish list for quite a while, and we really, really, really lucked out with a trip working out this spring (especially since I had put it in my 5-year-plan just a few months before). Since Eric had work things to do, I had a few days to fend for myself in the big city.
Now, Geneva had quite a bit working against it to begin with, since it’s a somewhat large city (the biggest of our trip), I was on my own (a lone adventurer, I am not), and I speak neither French, Italian, or German (read: I am a lame American). I’m going to admit that I didn’t love it. Part of that was because of our Airbnb experience (hello, ice cold shower), and part of it was that Geneva just wasn’t my jam. To be fair though, cities are not my jam, and we generally avoid them while on vacation.
When preparing for this trip, we watched and read a lot of Rick Steves guides. Rick’s thoughts on Geneva? “Skip it.” I wasn’t going to let that sway me, since I figured that a European city situated on the edge of Lake Geneva in Switzerland couldn’t be too bad. And it certainly had its lovely parts. Geneva’s public parks are gorgeous. There were flowers blooming everywhere. Since it’s in the French-speaking part of the country, there was a lot of my favorite, “Bonjour Mademoiselle,” which makes me weak at the knees. I really don’t know much about Geneva’s history, but there were lots of cool old buildings (including the one where we slept, up 5 flights of winding, sewage-smelling stairs). But the city itself just looked kind of sad and gray, like it needed a few trees to perk it up.
But if you could ignore the city, everything else was pretty nice. I went out for a stroll the first night alone and stumbled upon a million sailboats on the lake and a huge park with a mansion surrounded by flowers.
The next morning, I took a jog along Lake Geneva, which has a nice path lined with parks and flowers and historic chateaus. It truly was lovely.
I took a train out to visit Chateau de Prangins, which is this enormous chateau overlooking Lake Geneva that now houses the Swiss National Museum. I, being the non-French-speaker that I am, had pronounced, “Chateau de Prangins” only in the safety of my head, so when I heard the French docent say the name, I literally had no idea what she was saying. I’ll invite you to listen to the correct pronunciation here, and laugh as you imagine how incorrectly this Kentucky girl would have pronounced it.
Anywho, I toured the museum and spent some time walking around the grounds. The giant garden behind the chateau is called “the kitchen garden,” and is where they used to grow the food for the house when it was used as a residence. Pretty amazing. Oh, and the garden on the opposite side overlooked the Alps. Because that’s how they do it in Switzerland.
The next day, Eric dropped me off in Lausanne on his way to a meeting. Lausanne was gorgeous. It’s another city on Lake Geneva, but it’s a bit further east, and its views of the Alps are stunning. And somehow, the lake looks like the Caribbean. Seriously. Lausanne is also home to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Museum. Aside from visiting the museum, I basically spent the entire day walking along the water and taking in those gorgeous mountains!
One of my favorite things about Switzerland was how aware the city planners are of the amazing views. It seemed like every time I saw an incredible view, there would be a bench right there for me to sit and take it all in. Well done, Switzerland. Well done.
Our pal (and Eric’s co-worker), Jonathan, treated us to some fine dining overlooking Lac Léman (the French name for Lake Geneva). Please pardon the fact that I am rocking some windblown hair and the beginning of a nice Euro-sunburn in this fancy restaurant, but according to my fitbit, I walked 13 miles that day. Merci, Jonathan!
If you missed the first portion of our Eurotrip to Chamonix, France, you can check that out here. Next, we’ll head into the Alps and the Berner Oberland!