Sunday, January 18, 2009


I just got back last night from a day trip to Geneva. My train left at 10 in the morning and my friends and I got to Switzerland around 1 or so. We left the train station in Geneva and apparently took the wrong exit, because what I had envisioned as clean streets with amazing views of the mountains turned out to be a slum (see picture below). After a few minutes of walking through a neighborhood that was quite less than what I had expected, I decided that finding a map might offer a bit of useful advice (go figure, right?) A quick analysis of where the better parts of the city were prompted us to turn around, go back through the train station, and to take an exit that should have been clearly marked as, "Tourists Exit Here." The new view of Geneva was astonishing. We could see the Alps and the big fountain in the center of lake. We walked toward the center of the city and found what we had been looking for. The streets were lined with shops featuring large window displays of watches. I have a fascination with watches, and it took everything in me not to break through the windows to snatch some $30,000 "souvenirs."

As we explored the city, I found a little replica of a Swiss chalet that was selling what smelled like roasted nuts. I guess I was expecting something similar to the nuts sold at Opry Mills, or any other American mall, but what I got were roasted chestnuts. I've never had roasted chestnuts, and you may like them, but I took one bite and was completely repulsed. All I could think was that I was eating soft, warm, tree bark. I don't know why I held on to them, but I stuck them in my coat pocket and began walking back toward the lake. As we got closer and closer, I noticed the amazing boats. There were hundreds of sailboats and fishing boats, and I took about half an hour to walk out on the docks to look at each of them. After finishing my tour, I walked back to the lakeshore and noticed a large group of huge swans and ducks. I don't know what they feed their swans, but these things were enormous. They all seemed to eye me, expecting something from me. Caving to their pressure, I pulled out chestnuts. Now, I didn't know if waterfowl ate nuts, but I figured it was worth a shot. I took out a nut, removed its shell, crushed it up, and threw it to the swans. They seemed to like it, so I kept doing it. I started throwing the nuts farther and farther out to the swans. I guess I didn't assess the situation before I started, but when there are seagulls present, it's never a good idea to throw food in the air. I watched in slow motion, knowing that disaster was coming, when the first seagull swooped down and caught a nut midair. It was on. About 20 seagulls instantly swarmed me, waiting for a bit of food. Luckily, there was a 8-year-old next to me throwing McDonald's french fries to them. I'm glad there was someone equally as dumb as I was to bail me out of that one...
(Left: Picture of swans and ducks. Notice the seagull)

After a long day and an excellent pizza dinner, we headed back to the train station. On the way, we saw a little cafe advertising "chocolat chaud." I knew that I couldn't leave Switzerland without having authentic Swiss hot chocolate. We ran in, pushed our way through the crowd, and grabbed one of the last open tables. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate, and it was served with a little foam on top. I didn't fully know what to expect, but after the first sip, I was in love. It was pure milk chocolate with enough added milk to make it easily drinkable. I am pretty sure I'm never going to look at Swiss Miss the same way.

(Below: The Lake, Mountains, and Fountain)

(Left: View of the Boats and Mountains)

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