Some two years ago, I got a chance to work and stay in Netherlands. First time abroad, had lots of excitement and totally took advantage of the situation. What I did? Travelled, a lot. Solo, couple, group, in all kind of combinations.
This is a story of my solo trip to Geneva and Montreux. In the month of September 2015, I bought return tickets to go to Geneva from Amsterdam for the weekend of 02-Oct-2015 to 04-Oct-2015. The flight operator was KLM, the royal Dutch airline. The flight was cheaper (109 Euros) for an airline like KLM. I knew Geneva was a nice city, what I didn’t know it is very expensive too. I booked my accommodation in “Geneva Hostel” for 2 nights (for 35 Euros/per night). It was way cheaper than the other options in the city. A small tip, if you are planning to stay on the French side (outside the city) it will be cheaper too.
On 2nd October after finishing my work in the office, I started for Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. To clarify, I was living a bit far from Amsterdam, in a place named Zwolle. It was almost 1.5 hrs away by train (around 150kms) from Amsterdam. My flight was at 20.55, I reached there with plenty of time in my hand. The flight reached Geneva Airport around 22.30. Geneva has an excellent public transport system, which is very tourist friendly. For most of the European cities, generally, you need to buy a ticket to get to the city centre from the airport. But that’s not the case in Geneva, you get a free ride in the train from Airport to Geneva main station. All you need to do is, find free ticket vending machine near the arrival exit of the airport and press the button to get your free ticket. Amazed and surprised.
After reaching the main station, I had a burger for dinner and started for the Hostel. I already had the Geneva map cached in my phone, so just followed the GPS. In hostel check-in counter, another surprise was waiting for me. They handed me a free city travel pass for the number of days I will be staying. Later found out that is a kind of law over there to promote tourism. Anyway, I got freshened up and got into my bed in the dormitory and had a good night sleep.
Next day morning I woke up early and got ready. From my earlier experiences in Hostels in Europe, it is a good idea to get up early if you can, otherwise, it is hard to get cubicles in the shared bathroom. Anyway, I came downstairs for breakfast, which was btw was included in the cost. There was usual continental buffet breakfast. Muesli with yoghurt was particularly very good. Also had a lot of Swiss cheese. Then I started for the city tour.
It was early morning, so roads were almost void of the tourist crowd. Geneva is situated at the southern end of a very large water body popularly known as Geneva Lake. “It is Yuge, you’d love it”. Jokes apart, the water was calm, the hills and sky with white cloud were creating a nice reflection on the still water. Few people were jogging by the lake-side road, some groups were rowing through the lake barely disturbing the calmness of the water. Even I saw two guys swimming in the ice cold water, whereas I was wearing three layers of clothes including a fat jacket to keep myself warm. Anyway who am I to say, I’m from the Indian subcontinent (previously working from Chennai).
Took a lot of photos around the lake and roamed around nearby streets. There was a small monument named “Monument Brunswick” (1879) looking pretty in golden morning light.
Around 08.00, I went to the station side bus stop to get to the Mont Saleve. Mont Saleve is a small hill (1380m high) on the French side. I met an Indonesian guy, who was on a solo Euro trip, waiting for the bus to get to Mont Saleve. We got the bus number 8, which took us to the last stop Veyrier. There we got down there and crossed Border to enter France. Then we followed the sign to get to the cable car station for Mont Saleve. Return ticket cost was around 10 Euros (don’t remember the exact amount). Then we boarded the cable car to reach the top of the hill.
Came out of the cable car station, and oh my, it was a visual treat from the top. The whole Geneva City you can see along with Jet d’Eau. The “Jet d’Eau” is the famous landmark water fountain, symbolising Geneva tourism (you can google image search ‘Geneva’ most of the result will have this one).
Anyway, there were a lot of hiking trails on the Saleve. We took the most conventional one and wandered around. Beautiful wavy lands, covered in green grass, white furry lambs were walking around as per their daily routine.
Finally reached the point where I got rewarded with my first ever view to the Mon Blanc. Sat down there on the grass, spent around half an hour, watching the distant Alps range.
Then walked back to the Cable car station, to get down. Took the same route to reach Geneva. At that time, I was Hungry. Found a Turkish Kebab shop and had Pita bread and Shwarma (It was 2x expensive than that of in Netherlands).
When I came out of the shop, the sky was getting cloudy by every minute. I started in a little bit hurry towards the city centre before the rain starts. By the time I reached the old city centre, it started raining. It is a very pretty place, with the narrow cobbled streets, with outdoor seating cafes. The rain dampened the mood of the crowd, everybody was looking for shade.
Walking with my flimsy travel umbrella and water resistant jacket, finally, I reached the church “Cathedrale Saint-Pierre Geneve”. The front façade was little unusual for a Gothic church (reminded me of Roman Pantheon facade). I couldn’t take my camera out in the rain, so no photographs.
After coming out of the place I started walking on the other side of the lake towards Jet d’Eau. Though it was raining, still pretty view. Found myself a seat in a nearby shaded café, ordered a beer and enjoyed the next hour by the lake, just chilling.
It was already around 4 in the afternoon, so walked by the lake bit more and reached a ferry stop. Took the ferry to cross the lake and reach the other side near my hostel. I was in a little dilemma whether to roam around bit more in the evening and take photographs or reach Hostel. But a fresh spell of rain helped me to reach my conclusion to end my trip for the day and return to Hostel. The last photograph I took night time Jet d’Eau by the lake.
The trip continues to the 2nd day in charming Montreux, Rochers-de-Naye and Lavaux vineyard terrace in the next blog (Montreux).