Downtown Geneva, on the river
We arose, the last day in our Chamonix apartment. We had a small amount of food for breakfast and went downstairs to the bistro for a bite of breakfast and a couple of coffees. Our bus leaves at 11:15 and this was a perfectly civilized way to spend the time until then.
We board our Ouibus (owned by the French railroad) and head back towards Geneva, planning on staying there one more night due to an early flight out on Saturday. We chatted on the bus with two guys who were from NYC and had been there skiing. We were trading travel stories and interests as we traveled. They had been there around the same length of time as us and were headed to a NYC flight today.
Waiting for our hotel shuttle at the Geneva airport
They too had a good time skiing in Chamonix, and one of them pointed out that you can go skiing in Europe cheaper than going out west. I told them about yesterday’s post and gave them one of our cards so they could read about it in the blog. We talked about how it was so much more expensive in the U.S. and that it’s not that big a deal to fly to France. We’re all pretty much in agreement with that.
We get to the Geneva airport bus station (bus, airport, and train station all in one place) and transfer to our hotel shuttle. There is an Ibis (European chain) hotel right at the airport and we have stayed there many times. If everything goes bad, we can walk to the airport, which is only about ¼ mile away. We dump our stuff and head out on an errand. We use the free public transport pass the hotel furnishes and take the bus. We wind up at the mall.
A Swiss mall not too far from our hotel
It’s a huge mall and pretty cool just to walk through. I wanted to go to Migros. Migros is a Swiss grocery store chain and they are all over the country. The one we are in is also one of the most impressive grocery stores I’ve ever seen. They have everything, from electronics and appliances, to all matters of food. But first, some lunch.
The two big grocery store chains in this country are MIgros and Co op. In their larger stores, both have restaurants. They’re basically a cafeteria style place with decent quality food. Don’t expect it to be a five star meal, but it’s good, filling, and for Switzerland, inexpensive. We have some sort of beef roast with sides and a drink. Total was around 30 euros for both of us. Lots of Swiss business folks eat at Coop and MIgros for lunch. They’re seldom open past 6.
I wonder where they keep the Swiss made chocolate? Anybody seen it? And yes....this is ALL chocolate.
After this, we head back into the supermarket part of Migros on an expedition to find Chocolate. Laurie thinks I was a bit more successful than I should have been. Lets just say we bought a little bit of Chocolate and leave it at that. And I bought a hat too…..at discount (once again, for this country) prices.
We have way more chocolate than I want to carry around so we take the bus back to the hotel and leave our treasure. After that, we head back downtown. The town is still lit for the holidays and it’s quite pretty. The downtown here is very active and vital, with all matters of shopping, restaurants, etc.
Laurie thinks I may have went overboard.......
There is a lot of money in Switzerland and it shows. Shops selling designer clothes, Swiss handmade watches, and jewelry. A young guy on a bus in Croatia was talking about Switzerland, and he said “It’s crazy there. Crazy prices, crazy taxes, crazy pay.” He’s right….it takes a LOT of money to live here. For instance, we had two large lattes from Starbucks, for a total of $16 dollars.
We shoot photos of all the lights and scenes, and wander away from the river. There are a lot of people out and we don’t’ feel unsafe, but we suddenly find ourselves in Geneva’s red light district. There are women in windows plying their trade. We just continue walking along our way like we meant to be there. A local did ask if we were lost, and we really weren’t but it was nice of him to ask.
Laurie saying "I want one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those...............
Our confused looks that drew the good Samaritan were actually based in trying to figure out where a restaurant was that we passed, not because we wound up in the red light district. I looked up the red light district on my phone later and it said that while prostitution of common (and legal) there, the area is one of the more dynamic neighborhoods in the city.
The area is called “Paquis” and is full of ethnic restaurants, shops, bars, night clubs, and discos. While most of Geneva is buttoned down and proper, this is where the locals and tourists go to let their hair down. The streets were crowded and as I mentioned, we never felt unsafe.
I love this Lebanese restaurant. The food was killer....
The tourist website for the city says while they have gangs and drugs in the area accompanying the prostitution, there is a tacit agreement to leave visitors to the area alone. They believe if people are afraid to come there, it will affect business in the area and nobody wants that. I’ve felt more uncomfortable in the gulch in Nashville than in the red light district in Geneva.
We had dinner at another Donner restaurant, which was excellent. Also another inexpensive meal for here. Total bill for dinner was 34 Swiss francs, or about 34 dollars. The place was packed and if I’m not mistaken they are open until 4 a.m. to take care of the bar crowd as the night winds down. We finished our dinner and headed back towards our hotel, catching a bus near the train station.
Bit of a language barrier. They asked my name at Starbucks.....this is what we got back
Tomorrow we fly. First hop is Geneva to London, 4 hour layover, London to Charlotte, 4 hour layover, Charlotte to Nashville. If all goes well we will be home late Saturday night. I hope everyone has enjoyed following along and we thank you for the opportunity to share it with you. In a couple of days I’ll put up a final post with reflections on the entire trip and more photos.
Once again, thanks for tagging along with us. See you back stateside.
Geneva slide show