A Little Bit Of Everything
Perhaps I should explain more about how this travel malarkey works on my blog. Sometimes I’ll be constantly checking my emails and there’ll only be things like newsletters that I didn’t sign up to and misspellings of my name. At other times there’ll be details of a potential project or a trip to somewhere I haven’t yet experienced. The latter happened a few weeks ago, when I received an email from Geneva Tourism for a trip with a handful of Internet-ty people I hadn’t previously met. They wanted us to have a local perspective of the city, so that meant lots of walking around (easily doable in Geneva, it’s probably a little smaller than Kensington), eating at a variety of places and discovering the hidden treasures. After my last trip to Lausanne a few years ago, I was keen to see how things transformed during the Summer and I quite fancied continuing my birthday celebrations in another country. It also helped that we took a ride on a boat previously frequented by Snoop Dogg, a random fact that I’ll be probably be going on about until my next birthday.
Would you believe me if I said that Geneva reminded me a little bit of Paris, Berlin, Rotterdam and Italy in terms of architecture? As expected there’s grand hotels and designer shopping districts, but also vibrant graffiti hidden near the Jonction bridge and a distinct Mediterranean feel in Carouge. My tips if you want to keep your Instagram feed nice and populated? Head to the Old Town, you’ll see examples of Gothic and Romanesque architecture and it’s all very grand (l’Hotel de Ville is a good place to start if you want to play around with your arty angles). There’s a few modern structures dotted around, such as the MEG museum and the Hans-Wilsdorf bridge, but it was the Turin-inspired neighbourhood of Carouge that really inspired me in terms of colour. It’s the Swiss equivalent of a gentrified area, with a vibrant market twice a week and lots of little artisan shops dotted around. Try some coffee at Valmandin and see if you can spot the cute car on Rue Saint-Joseph.
I was really impressed by the food we had in Geneva. Like, I need to add tahini to my regular weekly shop, impressed. If you want to grab something quick to eat by the lake, then El Salad is a good bet. Think hearty salads and wraps that are absolutely huge (I went for the Thai version with prawns, avocado and mixed greens). Another great place to know about, is the vegetarian restaurant Ou Bien Encore. Yes, it took me a while to work out that it was meat-free thanks to my dwindling French, but it served the kind of food that makes me wonder why aubergines aren’t a regular on my shopping list. There are some great bowl options with quinoa and courgetti bases and I now understand all the fuss about tahini, thanks to the rice, tofu, falafel and mushroom bowl I tried. If you want to really impress your travel companion/s then L’Adresse is one to add to the list, it’s part contemporary boutique, part bistro. It’s a dangerous concept, especially if you’ve been on the cocktails (luckily the shop closes at 7pm) and it’s probably worth knowing that the starters are absolutely huge (I loved the salmon tartare) so order carefully. Last but by no means least, the finale meal at Restaurant Hôtel du Parc des Eaux-Vives is the kind of thing I dream about. All. You. Can. Eat. Brunch. It’s definitely a bit of a treat, but with whole sections dedicated to sushi, cheese, salad and cake, it’s worth it and the views of the lake make everything even more special.
If you’ve seen any of my vlogs, then you’ll know that I get excited by concept stores and co-working spaces whenever I travel. They’re a great way to discover new brands and I love knowing that creative communities are thriving all over the place. Foound is an eclectic destination if you want to get a sense of what the scene in Geneva is all about, there was an exhibition put on by the local Instagram community, a bike shop, barbers and area featuring items by local brands. Of course we spent a good twenty minutes trying to get the perfect snap by the flamingo lightbox in the bar. I didn’t have too much time for exploring other places, but I have it on good authority that My Big Geneva is a great resource for all the hidden gems.
All About That Lake
As expected, most of our activities revolved around the stunning lake and seeing it from multiple angles is a nice way to get your step count up. One thing I’d recommend, is heading towards the Pointe de la Jonction to get your perfect bridge snaps from the centre (some of the Instagram-ers were so dedicated to the gram, I thought they were going to fall in). The subsequent activities were even more breathtaking, firstly a cable car up to Mont Salève to have a picnic with a view (I should have taken a Sound Of Music style photo) then a private boat tour on one of the hottest days of the year. I was a bit gutted about my non-existent swimming skills and missing out on jumping in, but that was soon fixed by rosé and finally getting the hang of the Boomerang app.
So Geneva has it pretty sussed in terms of transport. You can get a free 80-minute train ticket at the baggage hall in the airport and the journey to the central station takes 6 minutes. Yes, six minutes (London, please take note). Every visitor also receives a free transport card from their hotel for the duration of their stay, which is a nice touch especially since this city is probably not one you can do on the cheap. You may find the Geneva Pass useful, if you’re planning on packing in lots of exhibitions/tours or you can just stick to stalking the #igersgeneva hashtag if you’re stuck on things to do. The vibe is a lot less hectic than London or Paris and it was great to hear from expats who’d just pop up the road to do a spot of skiing come Winter. Just imagine having the Alps on your doorstep?!
So that’s it for Geneva! It’s a great destination if you just want to chill by the lake, eat good food and experience a mixture of architecture. The funniest thing is that most people thought that we were catching Pokemon, since there were seven of us constantly on our phones (I went along with Tun, Marina, Gabriel, Joerg, Romain and Joyce). If only they knew!