Sunday October 17

Geneva

The cabin lights came on early, and we were served a small breakfast. We were now over land, probably France. We landed early in Geneva, Switzerland - about 8:30 AM Swiss time. There was no waiting at customs, and they did not even stamp our passports; I rather wish they had. It is fun to show people where you have been, but I was not about to make any fuss.

Just outside the door was the Holiday Inn Express shuttle, waiting to take us on a very short ride to the hotel. We checked in, and to our surprise found that they had a room for us. The hotel must have been very empty. Joe VanOs had told us this was their "shoulder season" between the summer tourists, and the winter skiers.

After putting our things in our room we went down for the included breakfast, which was good. I tried to find a church for Mass, but the only person at the desk (or anywhere else) spoke almost no English, or at least pretended to. He didn't know anything about a Catholic Church, but he did give us the telephone book. The Swiss do not organize their phone numbers by categories like church, cars or physicians. If you didn't know the name of what you wanted, you were out of luck. I was out of options, and unable to attend Mass as I had hoped.

We walked around a bit, trying to find a money-exchanging machine so Marilyn could get some Swiss francs. I had not selected a pre-loaded money card because they insisted on my social security number on the application, and I was not willing to share such important information, which was not necessary to the transaction. We walked over to a casino, which was actually closed! I didn't think casinos ever closed!

Marilyn called her niece, Laura, who had been expecting us, and came over. To my surprise, she had planned a visit to Yvoire,a village in France! I had not expected to visit another country when I had scarcely gotten off the plane. People here think nothing of going across a border, which was, in fact only about 30 minutes away. There was no one at the border post, so we just drove right in, to my total astonishment. It was raining quite hard, so we left our photo gear in the car and armed with raincoats, admired the wall surrounding the town, as it had since mediaeval times. The streets were paved with cobblestones, so I was glad not to be wearing high heels. I don't think women wore such things in those times. The houses of the town had been restored and converted to little shoppes selling quaint things. Marilyn found a darling wooden puppet for her grand-daughter. There were places selling wooden items, embroidered items, dishes, lace , candles and jewelry. We had lunch at a little "creperie." I had never had a crepe in a restaurant before, and found it delicious. The rain continued as we found more and more pretty sights that would have made good photos. The rain gave no indications of letting up, so we returned to the car.

Laura took us to her very modern apartment. It was bright and clean and decorated with items she has collected. She was fortunate to find such a nice place because lodging is very expensive in Switzerland, and difficult to locate. It is in an area of a great many apartments, not very far from her job as a sales manager for Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers, and various types of construction equipment.

Laura also took us on a walking tour of Geneva, which is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman).. The Jura Mountains and the Alps look over the city and the lake. CERN, the center for European Nuclear Research is also here, as is the International Headquarters for the Red Cross.1 Swiss cities are not huge like ours, so a walking tour is a very good way to see things.

Especially memorable was St. Peter's (San Pierre) Cathedral. It was built back in the 12th and 13th centuries, and is magnificent. A vast and austere cathedral, it has been a Protestant Church since 1536. A facade was added in the 18th century.

These three doors in the vicinity of the cathedral, must hold an interesting history.

Without my tripod, most of my pictures did not come out. It was still raining, when we went to see the amazing Jet d'Eau fountain2 of Geneva. It comes right up out of the Lake Geneva, and spurts to a height of about 400 feet. Of course, all the spray comes down on the people on the harbor sidewalk, so they turn it off in high winds. A rainbow appeared very briefly, and was so pretty! The lake water was amazingly clear!

Back at our hotel, we met the rest of our group for dinner. Some were new to me, but I did remember Barbara and John Marmillo from New York, and Jon and Phyllis Pardol from Arizona.

The dinner was good, and was my first introduction to the European style of serving small amounts of food on very large plates. Perhaps this keeps them from gaining weight. I noticed that in our group, no one was obese. So much for the European expectation of "fat Americans." None of our group smoked either. Perhaps this is how we can afford to take such nice adventures.

Both Marilyn and I were extremely tired from our long flight, and adventurous day. Marilyn said she just "melted" into the bed.