I must say that if you go to Switzerland, you must fly at least one segment on Swiss. All that chocolate puts you in a great mood. The service is also always great.
After picking up our car we headed to our hotel, the Nash Airport Hotel. It is an airport hotel and that is all I will say about that. After a little rest we decided to head out.
Since our son served his mission just five minutes outside of Geneva, he was very familiar with the area and served as our guide. Our first stop was the United Nations Palais de Nations. We thought that the sign said that the tours were only held after 2:30 pm. So we walked over to the Botanical Gardens. And it was a lovely idea. There are several beautiful gardens and some cool greenhouses. I really liked the Japanese garden. This garden was a calm and resting spot to visit and it is also free.
Then we headed up to the UN, which is near the gardens. When we got to the UN I was surprised to see the length of the line. I was told that because it was raining there are more visitors than usual because it’s an indoor activity.We were lucky to get in. There were so many people that they closed the tours after us. We went through the security which requires a person from your party to give an ID and going through metal detectors and x-ray machine.
Because it is a working office building you are led through a tour with an employee. We had a very nice young man from Egypt named Mohammed. During the tour we learned about the history of the UN and the palace. It was first built for the League of Nations and it was originally called Palais Wilson. But due to World War II, the League ceased and was replaced by the United Nations. Because of when it was built, the building has some beautiful Art Deco details.
During the tour we see the many works of arts that member states have donated over the years and some of them are truly magnificent. The visit includes seeing the Assembly Hall. This is where up to 1200 delegates can meet to discuss and vote. This is what I think of when I think of the UN. I felt so inspired by the ideals of this worthy organization. I was an International Relations major in college and this is still my dream job working for an organization that has peace and cooperation as its main objective. Being there just made me even more impressed.
On the top tier of the Hall there is an area for all the translators. All meetings are translated into the UN languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Brazil is trying to get Portuguese as one of the languages. But there are translators from the other languages into one of the official languages. It was impressive.
The second room that we visited was the Council Chamber. This was the original chamber for the League of Nations and it has a powerful mural about the effects of war on humanity and depicting what peace could look like. In this room they hold disarmament talks. Hopefully they will be inspired by the artwork.
The final room we visited was the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations room which has the largest piece of donated artwork, the ceiling. It was a gift from Spain and it was decorated by Miquel Barcelo. It is amazing. It looks like you are looking at the bottom of the sea with lots of colors and textures.
The sad part of the tour was the reason why the beautiful gardens are now closed. Ariane Gardens were open until a UN office was attacked in Iraq and workers were killed. This was the first time in its history that the UN had been attacked. Because there are people out there that would like destroy this worthy institution, they need to be protected. So now all UN buildings are secured and visitors are limited. It is a loss for humanity but it is the reason we need institutions like the UN to fight for human rights, peace and security.
Near the UN is the Place des Nations, a nice square with the Broken Chair sculpture. It is to symbolize the danger of land mines.
I thought I had eaten enough tacos. I have lived and traveled in the American Southwest, have been to Mexico and the place where I live has almost 50% Mexican population. That is until I went to Geneva.
Because we were tired after our tour, we decided to take a nap. When we woke up we were hungry but most everything near our hotel was closed with the exception of Supreme Tacos. It was a very busy place. Many young people would stop by to get a bite before going on to their next activity. It is a cheap meal (for Geneva standards) and it was delicious.
So tacos in Switzerland and France have a big flour tortilla and inside it you pick what meat you want, cheese, choose the sauce and they add some tomatoes, onions, green peppers and french fries and put it in the tortilla and grill it (like a panini grill). The sauces are Samurai, BBQ, White, American, Moroccan, Algerian and many others. It was rather yummy. I wouldn’t call it a taco more like a mix between a panini, a souvilaki and a quesadilla. It was great and perfect for a late night meal.
I had the Cordon Bleu taco, my husband the Kabab and my daughter the Oriental. So next time you are in Geneva try some tacos. Yum!!! Plus it’s one of the few places open late.
Another thing that you must try in Switzerland is their pop/soda Ravella. It is made with milk and it tastes like Sweeties.
After a much needed good night’s sleep we were able to go see downtown Geneva. Right now the city is giving away free transport passes through hotels. It is such a great deal because the tickets can be pricey. Even though, you don’t have to validate the ticket when you enter a bus, always have your tickets. If you are ever stopped for a check, they will not only check your ticket but run a complete check on you. The Swiss have a very high sense of civic duty and being honest is highly valued.
The heart of Geneva is Lake Leman and the Giant Fountain is its main artery. Everyone is drawn to it. Everyone is enjoying the views and the sights. Being near the lake is contagious. It is fun. It is lighthearted, which is a contrast to the seriousness of the rest of Geneva.
The Flower Clock is near the water and is lovely. I wonder if there different types of flowers during the rest of the year.
The next stop on our tour was the Reformers’ Wall. It is in the Bastions Park. It is an impressive monument to the men who were brave enough to stand up for their religious beliefs. In the center is the statues of William Farel, Jean Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox. On the side there are other reformers and the motto of the Reformation and Geneva is also inscribed: Post Tenebras Lux- After darkness, light.
In this same park you also have the chance to play with the giant chess pieces. It is such a fun activity. For those of us who don’t know how to play chess, we can play checkers.
Geneva is a beautiful, fun city with lots to see. Enjoy!