The ballet “Swan lake” has four acts – just lhe same quantity of days I spent in Swiss city. It was 4 days of french language, french cuisine and swiss swank. Also it was 4 days of changing my opinion about Switzerland. Before I hated it.
Well, “disliked” will be more correct word. I could never understand admiration of everyone who visited Switzerland. What did they find delightful in this country? Ok, nature is wonderful. But you can’t step out the beaten trail or make a barbeque whenever you want. Clean cities? Of course, like most of the European small towns. Swans swimming on clean glacier lakes? I agree that this is beautiful until another sign, saying “Feeding birds is forbidden” strikes you. For creating a dream country you need to create strict rules and frames. The feeling that Switzerland is too artificial has been staying with me till last week.
For my second visit I choose Geneva. Actually, it was a choice of my husband, who was more friendly to Switzerland. As for me, I was absolutely sure that there is nothing to do here during 4 days. But Geneva had another plans for me. It decided to implement its mission “Like Me” at the very begining. The city is proud to be only 6 minutes away from the International airport. I don’t remember any other city being so comfortable situated, the same as I don’t remember any other airport offer travellers a free train ticket. Inside you may get 80-minutes ticket to travel to the center.
Another surprise catched me in our hotel. Together with keys and wi-fi password they gave us Geneva Transport Card that allowed us to use any public transport within the city during our stay. Later I get to know that no matter where you are staying (hotel, hostel or campsite), you receive such card free of charge. We used it only once, using a yellow taxi-boat that brought us to the other side of Geneva.
The lake reminded me of Baikal: unexpectedly big and also called by locals as a sea. Actually, they called it Leman instead of well-known Geneva lake (345.31 km2), which is not so surprising, as French people like to differ from others. By the way, the part of eastern shore of the lake belongs to France. In a French-speaking part of Switzerland, in Geneva, the lake flows back into the Rhône River. Fast current of the river brings glacial transparent waters to Mediterranean sea. Walking on Mont Blanc bridge you may notice the place where Rhone exits the lake. I loved to watch how gorgeous swans worked hard not to be carried away by the flow.
The real power of water I noticed near city’s main attraction. You are right, I am talking about famous Geneva water fountain – the massive plume of water rising to 140 metres high. They say you can see it from 100 km away. I guess, it is hypothetical, as mountains cover Leman, creating an obstacle for observation. The fountain spurts out 500 litres of water per second at a speed of 200 km per hour. Constructed more than 60 years ago, it still surprise by its size, especially in comparison with walking around the stream people. When we came closer, trying not to loose our balance on a narrow pier without a fence, the fountain suddenly stopped working. The portion of water freezed in the sky and reached the ground after some time.
But even more impressive is to watch how small boats coming close to the massive jet. Or to be inside such a boat, like we did with CGN fleet. That company will bring you as far as to Montreux on their stylish retro boats. Their entire fleet has been classified as “historic monuments” of national importance in 2011. For 48 CHF (50 $) we choose 4 hours trip to French village Yvoire with some stops in other beautiful villages on the way.
Our boat trip covered only a tiny part of the Lake, which they called “A small lake”. Starting from Yvoire, Leman widen and become so-called “Big lake”. We stopped there for having lunch in France. The cuisine was similar to those we eat in Geneva, but the prices were different. At least in local restaurants, unlike in Geneva, you can buy water or coffee for less than 4 euro. The village itself looks very beautiful. Every house was decorated with flowers. As they told us later, every owner has to compete for having the most flourishing building. Only castle was not playing that games – probably the owner of this private Medieval fortress was beyond the competition. He already got his prize.