the hoofindex - rewind to the previous trip (first 2 months in UK) - fast forward to the following trip (road trip to York)
Back in October, the Hoof'ess had given a special 30th birthday present to the Hoof - a trip to Geneva for the weekend of 11th/12th of November. So here we were, day before flying out and we'd done no research into what was on offer in Geneva. Apparently its in Switzerland, and there is a mother of all fountains in the lake, snow capped mountains... what else? Dunno. Our flight was pretty sweet, with none of the feared (for Hoof'ess) turbulence showing its ugly head. We had amazing views of the snow-capped Alps as we flew up Lake Geneva....but it wasn't as mountainous as we had expected, picturesque nonetheless. Geneva itself wasn't even as enclosed as I expected, but supposedly you were able to see Mt Blanc.
Traveling from the airport was easy as, jumped on a train which leaves every 25 minutes to the city... and takes about 20 mins. Soon after we arrived at our hotel accommodation, only to be told that our room had been flooded and we had been moved to a room with only single beds. How was the Hoof going to enjoy his romantic 30th birthday weekend in single beds?
Arriving in the room the Hoof and Hoof'ess couldn't figure out where the beds were, was it a fold out from the couch... was there a room we were missing? No... (look next pic!)
The beds were cleverly hidden in the 'fake' wardrobes! Now that's special.
So having dumped our gears which consisted of one back pack and Hoof'ess hand bag (somehow my birthday wish has come true and she's learnt to pack light), we were off to find out what Geneva had on offer. Geneva central city is very confined which makes walking around very easy. First thing we needed to do is fuel the machines. We headed out for an early lunch and just up the road we found a dodgy looking restaurant that we decided to take a risk on.....classic 1920's styles with a waiter who spoke no English and a menu entirely in French. Luckily they had a large selection of pizzas on the menu and we were able to go through and establish at least some of the ingredients to help us decide which ones were possibilities and which ones weren't. Then it was just a lucky dip as to which one we ordered.....why didn't the Hoof'ess learn French at school? Luckily our choice was delicious and there were no dodgy additions that we hadn't translated!
We then stumbled upon the shopping district (the Hoof'ess was very happy with the find) and we had a look into a few places and checked what types of shops Geneva locals frequent. There are some nice shops here, a fair bit of cash in this town. There are also some very fancy watch shops... don't know why? We got sick of the shopping area quickly (plus we couldn't afford anything anyway) and went off to check out the older section of the city. Heading towards the main Geneva church we found an underground excavation of the old city wall. Weirdest thing was that right beside the old wall excavation which was underground, was a modern underground car park...
Underground car park built right beside the archeological excavation. Of course.
Getting dark so we decided it was time to find some Swiss style food... and what could be more Swiss than fondue. Of course whenever you're looking for a certain type of food in a new city, you can never find it. We wandered right through the old town, through the shopping district and ended up on the other side near the station before we found a cute local fondue house. Sensational we thought, rocked on into this establishment and got handed a menu in French. Given our French is well average (we'd be better off with a Spanish menu), and the nice waiter's English was minimal it took a little while to figure out what we thought was what we wanted.
And it was sensational. Afterwards we were absolutely stuffed full... felt like we'd eaten a cow (sorry Hoofy).
Heading out of the little Fondue haus was a great view of the Geneva waterfront fully lit up, with the snow capped mountains in the background... beautiful huh.
The view back over the lake to the central business and shopping area, lit up with bank offices. Our hotel place was down the other end of the waterfront. So having been filled to the brim we headed back to our hotel to watch the AB's game. An odd experience watching game with French commentary and listening to the French commentators trying to pronounce the Maori names! The Hoof'ess also couldn't understand what happened to Dan....she wasn't impressed by his new hair do.
With daylight back we decided to head straight toward the old area of town... and retraced our steps along from the underground carpark/archeological site. Away from the 70's style waterfront we rediscovered the medieval heart of the city, great high city wall with housing above.
Monuments to horsemen and fountains, this area felt like it had character and felt more like a city rather than the shopping district which felt very sanitised... clean and 70's.
Hoofy felt much more at home down this end of town and had his grin back on.
Being the organised selves that we are, we decided to head over to the UN European headquarters next, which was back through town and up the side of the lake. Luckily this gave us the opportunity to try out the Geneva tram system, turning a mission walk into a leisurely 10 minute ride.
Naturally the UN buildings are a little smaller here than in New York, but still an impressive compound with extremely tight security. Tours were suspended and there are massive fences all around, so getting into the compound to take this photo was a mission in itself. Luckily Hoofy is small so he ran in and took this photo for us.
Up the hill from the UN complex was the Ariana Museum, a private collection of stuff - we didn't go in so not quite sure what. However round the back were some Sphinx style statues, and of course the Hoof decided to climb on and ride them. The Hoof'ess disowned the Hoof, lucky it wasn't exactly peak tourist season so no one else was around.
And further up the hill again was the Red Cross headquarters.
Hoofy wasn't feeling well, lucky the Red Cross was just over the road and some hot nurses came running to give Hoofy some mouth to mouth and resuscitate him... he was a very happy cow.
Walking around the UN complex we ended back at the water front, miles away from the centre. What do you think of those snow capped mountains?
The Hoof felt these pillows were quite fitting for the 30th Birthday weekend given the small issue of single fold out beds back at the hotel.
So it was about time to head back into the old town, cobblestones and old brick buildings - with the objective being to get back to the main Geneva Cathedral and climb up to take some photos of the city.
The Geneva cathedral is an interesting specimen, its a mixture of building styles, gothic, romanesque, medieval and renaissance. With all the churches and old buildings we have been checking out, we are now learning to identify key building features which relate to a particular building style. Quite the architectural historians that we are.
So up we went, after climbing a gazillion stairs we were up in the tower ready to take some photos. With some great views back over the lake and old city.
Looking over towards the UN complex in the background, and our little Fondue restaurant on the water by the trees.
Hoofy loved the views from up here. Made him feel like the "King Cow of the World".
And he was very impressed with the fountain towering over the water front. Dwarfing the old skool paddle boat which resembled the Earnslaw.
Heading back into the cathedral we could actually walk through the inside of the roof... into all the old cobwebs.
Time was now running out so we headed through the shopping area towards the train station. Unbelievable that in a modern western country that the entire shopping area was closed and town dead, nobody anywhere and it was 3:30pm.
Geneva central... on a sunday... no shopping for the Hoof'ess. No trams to get around, and not even any cafes to grab a drink. I nearly expected tumble weed to come tumbling past as it felt like a ghost town. After finding one cafe that was open we picked up some food and headed towards the train station and back out to the airport, back to beautiful Luton. Never got to see those snow capped mountains and Mt Blanc from the city thanks to a combo of clouds, rain and darkness.
Next week, York and Karen from NZ.