Tuesday, August 2, 2011


While in France we made a day trip to Geneva, Switzerland.  We decided to drive through the mountains to avoid the highway tolls (to drive on the highways in Switzerland you are required to purchase a vignette.  It is a road tax paid for a small sticker good for one year).  It was fun to see the countryside and drive in the Alps.
We found this enormous bicycle alongside the road.

Another benefit was passing by some giant fields of sunflowers.

After an hour or so of switchbacks on the mountains I was wondering if I had made the correct choice (back roads vs highway).  Thankfully none of the family ended up carsick.

After we cleared the mountain pass and came down into the valley near Geneva (Geneve in French) we all needed a bathroom and quick internet fix.  Did we mention the internet in our rental house did not work (grumble)?  The lack of internet really put a damper on our daily trip planning.  Regardless - we needed a stop before we crossed the border and entered such a large city with no real plan.
A couple of roundabouts later - we spy a McDonalds.  Wahoo - lunch, bathrooms, and free internet.  The kids have made it a goal to eat at Mc'D in all the countries we visit.  Kristi and I quickly downloaded email, checked Facebook, and then found a quick tourism site recommending the things you must try to see on a quick visit.  Perfect.

The border crossing (no pictures) was funny.  Switzerland is not in the European Union and I was not sure what the border crossing would be like.  We rolled up to the guard watching every car as it went by.  He did not stop any cars in front of us, but I am a slave to authority so I stopped and asked him if he wanted to see our passports.  Once he realized I spoke English (and not French or Italian (Italy License plate)) he paused, smiled, and said "good morning" and asked "where are you going?"  I responded downtown Geneva.  He told me what color signs to look for and what words to look for.  Of course 5 minutes later I didn't remember any of the advice he gave me, but it was funny because I was so keyed up to give him passports and was worrying about the vignette I didn't buy, and then he turned out to be so kind and helpful.  Ok off to a good start.  One of the items on the must see list was the "Jet d'eau" so we headed for the center of town and the easy to spot landmark.

The fountain was really cool.  You could walk right up near it on a pier.  We chose not to get soaked, but just close enough to feel the constant mist.  You could not help but smile and enjoy on such a pretty day.

The Jet d'eau proved to be a wonderful landmark for the day.  On a side note, we could even see it from France on our drive home--it's really tall.

We found a tourist train (The Little Sun Train) that drove you around some of the lakefront park and described some of the sights in 3 separate languages.  The kids LOVED this.

We wanted to take a boat cruise but missed the lunch time-slot and the dinner meal was way expensive.

We saw the giant clock of flowers (on the list of must see).

Every European city has some naked people statues.

And of course we had to go see an old church.  In Geneva we visited St Peter's Cathedral (construction began around 1150 - and also on the list of must see spots).

They had "Calvin's Chair" on display.  This is the church where John Calvin gave many of his stirring speeches of the reformation of the mid-16th century.

The Cathedral had some towers you could climb for a view of the city.  K and three of the titanfans braved the steps to the top.  It's no Ulm type climb, but it was still quite scary to Cory--he cried pretty much the whole time they were up there.
Kristi found this reflection of the spire in one of the windows along the way.

Apparently, when they descended the stairs, the exit door was not exactly obvious...that really freaked Cory out!

Later we enjoyed a ferris wheel located on the waterfront (not on the list, but awesome).

We enjoyed looking around the city at the high end international shopping.

We saw the UN, too - no picture - I'm not a big fan of that bureaucracy anyway (but it was on the list).  For dinner we found a place with fondue.  How can you not eat fondue when in Switzerland?  The kids had pizza and pasta--good grief.

We had to get some sweets for the drive back to the rental house.
We had made it the entire day without having to get Swiss Francs--everywhere we went accepted the Euro.  However, this pastry joint gave us our change in Francs...  Look kids--souvenirs!

Since we did not buy the vignette on the way in, we had to take side streets out of the country and into France instead of the highway (we decided not to go back the same way, to avoid the mountain driving).  Not an easy task without a good map or reference points.  After a few wrong turns by me and some excellent navigation skills from Kristi to get us back on track we made it back to France.  We had a wonderful experience in Geneva!

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