Saturday, 5 September 2009

A Long Swiss Weekend

Overlooking Geneva from Mont Salève, France
Geneva and Lac Léman from Mont Salève

Before my last minute trip to Paris was arranged, I booked myself a little getaway to Geneva where I was to visit an old friend who was spending the summer interning at one of the numerous international bodies based there. To be honest, I was desperate to get out of London. The last few months had been pretty much been a case of extreme highs and lows for me and getting away was just what I needed. Then came the trip to Paris ... Geneva became a really nice, hearty bonus :)

Geneva with Its Famous Jet d'Eau
The city's iconic Jet d'Eau switched on for summer

Catching up with my friend was great, we never seem to be in the same part of the world anymore these days - part of growing up and apart, I guess. Geneva was nice. I had been warned of how small and boring it would be but I as was only going to be there for a long weekend, how bad could it be? I actually quite liked it. For such a little place it had nearly everything one could need ... in material terms of course. But heavens forbid ... it's so expensive!!! I'm not happy about the weak pound but it was incredibly saddening in a place like Geneva. I paid almost 5 quid for a medium sized fruity frappacino from Starbucks. Ergh! Hahaha the Starbucks test is almost like the coke (as in coca-cola) test that my parents use to compare prices around the world.

Crossing Lake Léman - En Route to Yvoire , Switzerland
Sailing on Lac Léman - I did wish it was me out there

Geneva with Mont Blanc in the Distance
Geneva with Mount Blanc in the background

Apart from the constant reminder of sky high prices, Geneva really is quite relaxing in summer. People there were just so relaxed ... boating and swimming in Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), enjoying the sunshine, coming and going in shorts even to a nice dinner ... basically enjoying the beauty of the season. Since I had spent a great deal of my summer wrapped up in cardigans, lightweight jackets and/or scarves, this was amazing!

Salade Norvégien - Geneva
Norwegian Salad

On my first evening we headed down to the park for a a bit of bubbly and a few nibbles (and to admire the view of course:). Mount Blanc to one side and the three famous peaks on the Evian bottles of water on the other. Alright, the three peaks can't actually be seen from Geneva but I did catch a glimpse of them the next day when we took a boat to the French medieval town of Yvoire. For a little supper we headed down to the city's old town where we sat in the restaurant's courtyard and indulged in a couple of salads. Yes, indulged it was ... vanity, oh vanity! My Norwegian salad came with little prawns, thinly sliced smoked salmon and a Parmesan crisp. All delicious but the mixed salad greens were a little odd ... they looked like any other salad greens but tasted peppery and just a tad tough. Not just one of the leaves ... ALL of them.

Overlooking Lake Léman - Nyon, Switzerland
Nyon - overlooking the lake and on our way to Yvoire

Crossing Lake Léman - En Route to Yvoire , Switzerland
Our boat steaming to Yvoire

The next day we were off to Yvoire via Nyon, a Roman town across the lake from Yvoire. Blue skies, lovely weather and a beautiful lake. It couldn't really get any better ... well, if only I got to jump into the water ... :) There were tourists galore ... some foreign, some local ... all taking advantage of the sunny weekend. Yvoire is one of those postcard perfect towns (just as long as you stay within the old city walls). Very picturesque in an totally touristy sort of way. I'm sure it's been scrubbed up since the days of old when battles were fiercely fought for the city walls but it makes a nice wander round for a few hours these days.

Yvoire, France

Yvoire, France
Pretty Yvoire - flowers in the bloom, even the cat looks content.

Lunch was the local delicacy - perch caught from the lake. They do seem very proud of this little fish. We had ours dusted with flour and fried. Served with a light cream sauce, courgettes cooked in a tomato sauce, fries and a green salad.

Fried Perch - Yvoire, France
Lunch of fried locally caught perch - straight out from the lake.

As part of the lunch menu, we got dessert too. A simple yet lovely dessert of vanilla bean ice cream, stewed berries, fresh berries and whipped cream. Ooo summer heaven in a little glass. All this for €20 each. Not so bad I guess.

Summer in a Glass - Yvoire, France
Summer in a glass - vanilla ice cream, berries and cream.

Dinner that night was a picnic in the park, where loads of people seem to have the same idea. Our amusement for the evening came in the form of 3 young-ish German guys who had obviously had too much to drink :) No photos taken and no details will be imparted ... it was way too gross. Lol. But when we were at the supermarket picking up bits and bobs for our picnic - a bottle of wine, 2 types of cheeses, smoked fish, frankfurters (I had been hankering for them), 2 dips, peaches, grapes and bread - yesssssss........ all this for two people! Now you know why it was just a salad the night before :)

Sunset Over Geneva - Parc Barton
Watching the sunset over Geneva in the park.

Anyway, at the supermarket I spotted this little pot of ice cream that I had read about on the inflight magazine on Swiss Air (which I must say I was very impressed with - the airline, not so much the magazine:) A special edition flavour from Mövenpick - Lam Dong green tea and jasmine flowers. It was double the price and half the size of the other tubs by Mövenpick but I just had to try it. So darn persistent I was :) It was really rather good. Unlike the usual Japanese green tea ice creams, the green tea here was a whole lot more subtle (unlike matcha, which is really quite a bold flavour) and the fragrance of the jasmine came through very delicately. A very nice summer flavour ... now if only we didn't have to finish the whole tub in 2 days ... it was rather much, even the glut in me had to admit that.

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland

Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream - Geneva, Switzerland
Lam Dong Green Tea and Jasmine Flower Ice Cream.

My last full day was spent on Mont Salève, the rocky outcrop that serves as Geneva's backdrop. Other than the great views it offers of the city and the lake, it really not all that pretty up there. Nothing like the image of alpine Switzerland.

Looking onto Switzerland - Mont Salève, France

Looking onto Switzerland - Mont Salève, France

Mont Salève, France
Mont Salève, France

Dinner on the last night was at a local fast food restaurant of sorts Chez Ma Cousine (apparently the McDonald's in Switzerland are the most expensive in the world - how's that for a bit of useless information?). The only thing on the menu is chicken - grilled chicken served with potato wedges and a side salad and three/four different types of main chicken salads. It was busy when we got there and a little queue forming. Good sign. We were seated within 10 minutes and we ordered .. chicken. Half a grilled chicken each (you can't get it in any other sizes) and a side order of sauce. For a while I was a little disgusted thinking that I had to pay for the bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard that were circulating around the restaurant. This place is cheaper than most other places to eat in Geneva but to pay an extra £1.50 for a little ketchup did seem a little ridiculous. I soon informed that this was actually going to be chicken gravy - ah, that's fine then :) However, it wasn't fine. The staff promptly forgot about us ... the table seated after us had nearly finished their meal (they were either very fast eaters or we were very patient that night) before we told them we had yet to get any food. They seemed genuinely surprised ... odd considering they had passed us several times and not noticed that we were not eating and did not look like we had finished eating. So much for customer service. The food was served quite promptly after that but it was good only if you like dried rotisserie chicken and ultra salty chicken gravy. Ahhh dissapointment. The wedges weren't too bad though.

Last Dinner - Geneva, Switzerland
Rotisserie chicken dinner - dissapointing.

Left to my own devices on my last day when my friend headed back to work, I decided on a little wander through town. There really isn't that much to see, or to buy for that matter. I wasn't on the lookout for a Chanel suit or a Rolex watch so it became boring incredibly quickly. With my handful of coins I bought myself a blackcurrent sorbet on a sugar cone from the Mövenpick stand and sat down to watch the world go by. Ahh the little pleasures in life :) Unfortunately, they do not last all that long. Soon enough I discovered a Starbucks that was nicely located by the river. Armed with my ultra expensive frappacino, I basked in the sun for a little longer ... between catching up on world affairs from a copy of the International Herald Tribune someone had left behind and watching financial Geneva whizz by.

Blackcurrent Sorbet from Mövenpick - Geneva, Switzerland
Blackcurrant sorbet from the Mövenpick stand.

Tiny Shredded Ham and Onion Pizza - Geneva, Switzerland
A little snack I bought myself before heading to the airport - mini ham and onion pizza.

Did I actually buy anything on this trip? Of course I did. I bought myself at least 2 months supply of chocolate before I left. And what fun I had choosing them too :)

Petit Fours - Geneva, Switzerland
A plate of pretty biscuits and petits fours that I spotted in a shop window with the famous Swiss cow

No comments: