Train, Train, Go Away

Thursday, June 09, 2005

This morning I took the train from Nice to Geneva, which took a disproportionate amount of time. I got on at 10:20 and arrived in Geneva at 4:00. I had until 7:45 to look around Geneva, and there were two landmarks I wanted to see.

Normally there'd be a fountain here shooting up 150 ft
The first was the famous fountain, or maybe geyser is the correct word (it shoots 150m into the air). It's close to the end of Lake Geneva, between the two banks where the lake empties into the Rhone river. I walked to the lake to see it, but couldn't find it. I thought I'd read my map wrong and checked another place, but still to no avail. Finally, I actually sat down and studied my map. It turns out that, for whatever reason, the fountain was shut down.

Ferrari's and sports cars everywhere in Geneva
So, I walked along the bank of Lake Geneva, past countless watch shops, towards my second objective, the European headquarters of the UN, Palais des Nations. It was quite a walk given my short time frame, but I did get to walk through a beautiful park looking across at some beautiful homes on the opposite bank and a bunch of sailboats clipping along in the very strong wind. Oh, and I stumbled on a Ferrari dealership and got some pictures for Jonathan. The cars on the road are ALL very expensive cars.

The closest I got to the UN's European HQ
I finally arrived there to find that I'd missed visiting hours by a bit, and so I was able to do no more than stand outside the gates and snap a picture. So, really, the stop in Geneva might've been entirely pointless except that I got to walk in that park. It's funny how the best things tend to never be what you're actually after. I took a tram back to the train station and, quite starving as I'd not eaten anything aside from cookies and nutri-grain equivalents, I wanted to stop and grab a snack. I grabbed my stuff from the train station locker and went looking around. Sandwiches were 6 Franks (1SFr = 1CDN)! Everywhere I looked in the station was that much. So, with 15 mins to my train, remembering passing a McDonalds, I thought that I'd make it there and since it wasn't in the station, maybe pay a little less. Nope. A Big Mac Meal costs 12 bucks!

Less than 10 minutes left till my train leaves and I get to the front of the line (sort of). I had to eat somewhere and I was all the way here, so whatever. I grabbed my meal and ran back to the station, making it on my train just in time. The ride from Geneva to Bern was actually the highlight of my day. Again, the things you never expect. The scenery was just gorgeous, this really is a beautiful country. I churned towards Bern in the highlands, looking over Lake Geneva and mountains and streams and little chalets in the green fields as the sun set, eating my McBacon Meal on the second storey of the train. The height of elegance! I spent a good amount of time on the train today, so I figure I'll make that Eurail pass worth it yet.

The closest I got to the UN's European HQ
On the train, I finished my latest and last book, Time's Eye, by Arthur C Clarke, which was not quite as good as I was hoping from so renowned an author. I much preferred Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov, which I'd finished prior. So I'll need to find some more English books. In any case, without books, I went to my Lonely Planet and decided that given I was using a day on my Eurail pass, I should go as far as possible with it. So I missed my stop in Bern and stayed on the train to the end of the line - Zürich. Which is where I am now. I got the last room in the hostel, which is also quite expensive (38Fr). I know this because someone showed up right behind me and would've had to pay 100 Fr for a single room. The place is decent anyway, and a good deal in Switzerland. Free internet (it's 10Fr/hr down the street), a gym, and semi-private dorm beds (aka a curtain).

Anyway, today I'm going to hang around Zürich, I might go check out the zoo, definitely do some watch and knife shopping (which will come in handy for various fruit-related peelings and sandwich making) on the famous street that supposedly sits atop tonnes of gold and silver in Swiss Bank vaults. I may go to the zoo, and otherwise just stroll the streets. Tomorrow, I'm off to Bern for a few hours and then to Interlaken for 3 or 4 days. I heard about the place from the Red Deerians I hung out with in Montpellier, it's a haven of mountain activities. Canyoning (look it up, it looks like a chance to be on Fear Factor sans the insect eating), White Water Rafting, Hang Gliding, Skydiving (apparently they take you so high you can see Germany, Austria, and Italy), Hiking, Biking, etcc. Also, they apparently have the world's highest bungee jump, which is done from a gondola. Someone else told me it was South Africa, so I don't know whether that's true, but I was shown a video that one of the guys took of his jump and it looks bloody high and scary. I wish I could show it to you so you could see his face as he just keeps falling. Sheer terror.

So, that's the plan, give or take. Who knows when I'll be able to update again, probably not till I visit Yann in France (or if I win the Swiss lottery). See you in a week or so.

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