Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Geneva - Cars

There were some amazing cars in Geneva and while I did like all of the 911's that I saw, the old one below was my favourite.

I also liked these.

Tuesday 13th November - Geneva

Our last day in Geneva so as usual we were up at 8ish and off to get breakfast. After that, it was time for Ange to pack the cases while Amber and I went for a quick walk to the shops in order to buy more CHOCOLATE.

Wandered back to the hotel and Ange was finished with the packing so around 11 we checked out and headed off to Cirque in order to get a tram to the station.

Below is a pic of the hotel from the front and the tram as it came in to get us.

The plan at the station had been to get a bus to the airport however, there didn't seem to be a bus that went from the station to the airport. There was a notice telling you where you could get a bus from but as it was in French I couldn't understand it.

So, being at the train station, we got a train to the airport.

Getting off the train at the airport we were standing at the exit waiting for it to come in to the platform. A chap who had been in the toilet came out and moving to the side tripped over my suitcase and fell towards the exit, Ange thought he was pushing to get out first so gave him a mouthful - how funny for me?

At the airport Easyjet had yet another different check in system. Basically you tap all the details in to a machine to get your boarding tickets and luggage tags - then you queue up to hand over your baggage.

Running out of time now to spend my leftover currency so I had a mad dash round the shops spending my last few francs - and even some euros - getting coffee, muffins, a magazine, some water and some sweets. Thats left me with less than 1 franc to hold on to.

The plane was called on time and we duly got on, the flight was pretty empty and as we moved down one of the stewards told us to sit at the back to even up the weight, Ange let him know in no uncertain terms that she preferred to sit at the front as its quieter and he acquiesced very quickly.

Smoother flight back to the UK than out and we were home in no time.

Monday 12th November - Geneva

Same routine today and up for breakfast in the hotel for around 9am. And off we headed on the days travels.

First stop was the post office to post our postcards. Again, not too far to walk from our hotel. And typical of most post offices there were at least 10 booths able to serve customers but only 2 were open! As we headed out of the post office we were aware of a beggar sitting on the steps outside and had not got some 10 yards past the post office when we heard this almighty cursing session. Turned round and there was a chap who we'd spotted inside the post office giving this beggar a mouthful and persuading her to MOVE ON!!! Not sure if he was successful or not. For obvious reasons we chose not to take a picture of the pair of them bickering.

It was also a chance for us to head further up the street and do a reccy on a restaurant called Bobba we'd past the previous day. I'd spotted it and thought it would be nice for lunch. Looked at the menu in the window and it did look lovely but just felt there wasn't a lot for Amber to enjoy from the menu. So we crossed that one off our list of suitable eateries.

With some time to spare it was back to Park Neuve and round 2 of the chess game between Amber and Andrew. Clearly still nursing his wounds from his loss on round 1 he was showing no mercy this time and won the game, dodging his way round some of Amber's made up rules and moves.

Quick hop onto an tram and we headed south towards Palettes. There was no reason to go down here other than to see how the houses changed the further you got away from the typical apartment living in the town itself. A few brand new houses which looked very nice.

With an hour to spare it was time for Amber to complere her shopping expedition and we went into the big toy shop on Confederation Street. It was funny watching Amber's face light up at the sheer array of toys. Finally she settled on some plastic soldiers to play with her Viking chariot and soldiers. Think we were quite lucky with her choice since the toy store had some enormous stuffed rudolphs and sheep............ phew......they would never fit into our suitcases!!

We were now ready for the educational part of our trip, our tour of the United Nations building. So back on the tram and northwards we headed. The afternoon tour started at 2pm and we arrived in good time to take in the surrounding area.

In light of the important work done at the UN it came as no surprise to find the large concrete area in front of it was dedicated to landmine victims, in particular children. The giant display was in two parts. First there was this enormous.......... and I mean enormous wooden chair with part of one of it's legs broken off. The second part was a series of metal placards cut out in the shape of a young child with a stark reminder of the number of children killed by landmines. The scale and content of the display left you in no doubt about the effect landmines have and the need to continue to put pressure on governments to stop using them.

Ten minutes to 2pm so we approached the security guards at the UN entrance and we were told to go to the tour entrance some 500 metres up the road. This we duly did. Queued up and were ushered in by a female security guard, placing our bags and camera cases on the scanner to be checked. Collected them at the other side only to have the next male security guard turn and tell us there is another 5 minutes before 2pm so we need to wait outside!! Communication is key at the UN so let's hope that despite the lack of communication between security guards the delegates inside have higher standards! But not wishing to cause a stir I opted to keep my mouth shut and wait for the elusive 5 minutes outside before repeating the whole process again and going through security checks and inside to buy our tour tickets. We also got an official security badge for our tour.

Tour began and we were under strict orders to stay as a group and not wander off or we'd be thrown out at the nearest exit by security. That was us told!! By this stage I was beginning to feel like a criminal. Still the first room we saw was a large conference area. Seating for all the international delegates is in strict alphabetical order so they don't argue. We were then given a history lesson on how the UN in Geneva came into action. The building was gifted to the UN by a wealthy family for the purpose of being used as a centre for the UN. The building has old and new wings to it with the older wings being reminiscent of the 1920's. The corridors and interior were stunning, very ornate in places and just had a sense of grandeur.

After the tour started, 2 late comers were ushered in, two foreign gentlemen who proceeded throughout the whole tour to take photos of........not the lovely paintings or works of art or architectural features............... basically photos of the ceilings, doorways, exits and external grounds!! hmmmm....... make of that what you want!!

One hour later and the tour was over. It was extremely informative and the hour just whizzed past. Really glad we did it and we shall have great memories of the inside of the UN in Geneva.

Back outside, you can see the International Headquarters of the Red Cross opposite the Palais du Nations:

And further down on the 500m walk back to the tram stop were some more interesting buildings:

Back outside and walking through the landmines exhibition site we were startled by the arrival of 2 guys on mopeds who proceeded to kneel over the metal plaques and start cutting and scraping. Wondered what on earth they were doing especially with the arrival of a police car. Were they defacing it? No. Turns out they were engravers updating some details on the plaque. That's ok then! But did they really have to arrive on the scene in such a dramatic way?

Hungry by now we headed back to what was becoming our favourite cafe near the hotel. Seemed fairly empty so no problems getting a table we thought. Ahhh........ that's why....... they have stopped serving food..... just coffee!!! It was rather weird. This cafe seemed to change what they served and when and on what days. I am sure if we were staying longer we would have got used to their schedule but it was certainly confusing right now. But with food firmly on our mind we decided to take the short walk up to the older part of town again and find an eaterie there. We had passed quite a few good looking places on our previous jaunt. And we found just the place at Chez Ma Cousine near St Pierre. Great chicken and potato dish. Thoroughly enjoyed it and very reasonably priced for Geneva.

Outside Chez Ma Cousine, looking up, you could see St. Pierre Cathedral by night.

Our last chance to explore with it being our last evening in Geneva. So hopping back on to our trusty tram we headed out to the beach! Andrew had spotted the signs and was keen to see what Geneva had to offer in terms of a beach. It was getting dark however and we got a little concerned as we headed out of town and the street lights started to fade and the streetscape was getting sparser and darker. Hmmmm. Even Andrew was getting a bit concerned. But some welcomed bright street lights greeted us at the beach stop. In front of us we followed a couple who looked like they were heading towards the beach area. They walked down some steps and then.............. DISAPPEARED!!! Rather stunned we looked to see where the stairway led to and then discovered it was an undergound carpark! Well that's made things clearer. And there was us thinking "beam me up Scottie." But still uncomfortable with the darkness descending on the area we opted to hunt out our trusty tram and go back to the hotel.

Our last night at the hotel. The maid had already been in to turn down our beds and we laughed when we saw she had also arranged Ambers soft bunny toy into a relaxing position. Another nice small touch.

Sunday 11th November - Geneva

They say you should never eat cheese before bed time it gives you nightmares! Well I don't know about nightmares but talk about weird dreams. I blame the fondue.

In my dream we were all sitting having a meal prepared for us by the great Carluccio! Aye, I know!! And no we had not been drinking the previous night!! Thing was the food he was preparing was truly awful and he was the most annoying man on earth. So we were trying to escape from another terrible course but we couldn't. We just had to sit there suffering this awful man and his terrible food! Andrew's dream on the other hand centred around this pot of gold paint and a coat of arms - a coat made from arms that is. Amber said she had a dream that the cheese fondue we were eating exploded and cheese went everywhere. I think she was talking rubbish though and just didn't want to be the only one of us who didn't have a dream. She was welcome to mine I tell you!!

Down to the restaurant for our usual breakfast. As I walked into the cafe I was aware of this older couple sitting a couple of tables down and she was staring at me. I glanced over at her ....... she looked German!! Now Andrew laughs at this........ I mean ....... how can someone look German!! Anyway....... this German looking lady was staring and I glanced over thinking that would be enough for her to take her stare elsewhere. But no. She stared and stared and stared!!! Thinking I'd sprouted horns or something I felt I could do nothing more other than make a strange face at her that said.......... hey lady, tis rude to stare!!! Perhaps it was another symptom of the contents of the cheese fondue the night before. Andrew just told me to chill and said it was a European thing staring. Really? I was one step away from reminding her who won the war! Would be funny if she turned out not to be German!! They left some 5 minutes after, probably in search of another victim to stare at.

The cafe has a lovely atmosphere and seemed to be quite the meeting place for locals and business people discussing things over breakfast. On the table beside us was an artist chatting away to a gallery owner about his up and coming exhibition. She kept saying that this truly was Geneva's art quarter and it was "the" place to show his works. Made me think if we'd actually passed any art galleries on our walks through the town!!!

Still, with breakfast over we headed out for our days adventure. Another gem I'd dug out from the tourism stuff was a clock which chimed out a tune on the hour, every hour and a display of chariots and soldiers marched to the music. This I must see I thought. Especially after the previous day's lacklustre flower clock! The clock was situated in Passage Malbuisson and once again was hailed as being quite the tourist attraction! You can tell we were becoming quite synical by this stage! Of course every famous tourist attraction is well sign posted.......... NOT! Eventually we were led to Passage Malbuisson by small text that had been added to the bottom of a McDonalds shop sign! Yip...... by this stage I was just gagging to see this clock display.

Some history now about the clock. The clock was created by the watchmaker Edouard Wirth [wonder if he was a mate of the chap who did the maps Henri Dafour!!] and the clock's theme is the Escalade. I have no idea what that is by the way other than in French escalade means climb. What chariots and bronze soldiers have to do with that no idea. If anyone can enlighten then please feel free to add a comment! Anyway back to the clock. Every hour 16 bells, which are visible, chime out a tune and 13 chariots and 42 bronze figures come out and parade. First show was 26 June 1962 and its been playing ever since.

Clock chimed on the hour and we watched the show. Click went Andrew's camera and another gem added to our photographic collection from Geneva. By the way, next dinner party and we'll bore you with all our photos!!! What a blast we'll have.

Being very much into design I wanted to head out to see the Corbusier museum. Corbusier is probably more familiar in terms of his furniture but he did stick up some buildings too which in their day were hailed as being quite advanced. Back onto a tram and off to find the museum. By this stage we were having to dodge the odd shower of rain and as I aimlessly searched for the street where the museum was we took shelter under the overhang of a building. Rain stopped and out we headed down a small street with me giving out reassuring messages about it being "somewhere around here" and Andrew sarcing away as usual with my sense of direction. At the point of giving up a police car parked up in a nearby carpark so I went over and asked them. Alas they said there was no Corbusier museum as such but there was a building on the main street built by Corbusier. You can imagine the laughter that descended as we went searching for the building mentioned by the policeman only to discover it was the darn building we had been standing under sheltering from the rain! What do I know about Corbusier eh? To add further to our grief the entire building was wrapped in scaffolding and plastic sheeting since it was being done up under a major regeneration programme.

You cannot see much of the building in the photo but basically Corbusier designed his buildings so that large metal girders spanned the entire floor layout making it possible to have much larger open spaces rather than splitting it up with partition walls. Will be nice to see it when it is finished!

We were heading back onto the trams again, armed with our free tickets. I'd read about an area to the south of our hotel called Carouge. As the tram journey progressed we were aware in particular the height of the buildings were suddenly reducing as you got nearer to Carouge. The area has a main street and the buildings were more akin to Swiss chalet style. The area was developed in 1754 when it was granted to the Kingdom of Sardinia. They say it has more of a mediteranean feel about it but to me the buildings were very much like I had imagined Swiss chalets to look.

There was a main street Place du Marche lined once again with lovely little curios shops and fancy boutiques. Being a Sunday the main street was very quiet so we felt as if we had the town to ourselves. After an hour or so strolling and window shopping it was time to get back on the tram and head back to the hotel.

All that strolling had built up an appetite so we headed back into the cafe close by the hotel. Being a Sunday they had a special brunch menu so we ordered up 2 brunches to share between the 3 of us. Brunch was a mixture of salads, cold meats, smoked salmon, breads and half a dozen tubs filled with jams, honey, peanut butter, chocolate spread which you could just help yourself to.

Brunch "before" we started.

Brunch "after".

Fuelled up and ready for our next adventure. This time we decided to head for some art appreciation. In Geneva you pay to go into the museums but on Sundays entry is free. Therefore today seemed like the ideal day to explore. Geneva's art scene is described as being more "up and coming" than "established." The Centre for Contemporary Art was not far from the hotel so we walked down to it. It consists of a large factory/warehouse type building over 5 floors. Really cool atmosphere. The main exhibition was a collection of wooden chairs covering a range of themes. Quite hard to describe really but the common theme throughout as a basic pine wooden chair......... altered, cut, painted, half demolished.......... to represent different themes. On the third floor we had decided modern art can sometimes just be a bit over the top, so much so that you just don't "get it." Bits of old furniture were stacked up and nailed together alongside an enormous hammock made from crocheted bin bags!! Quite bizarre and certainly not one of the best art shows I've ever been to.

After becoming all "arted" out we stepped back on the tram and headed north of the lake again to take a wander past some of Geneva's very best hotels. There are basically two called Beau Rivage and Hotel Anglais. It was starting to get dark by now so they hotels were lit up in all their splendour. Once I've made my millions I shall come back and stay in the Rivage........ it looked the best!!

Twas getting a bit late by now so we headed back to the hotel stopping off at a local Starbucks for coffee to take back to the hotel. Couldn't believe it when we'd asked for a regular coffee only to be told they were all out of black coffee!! But it's Starbucks we thought........ how can you be out of coffee?

Safely back at the hotel and there is not better way to relax for the night by starting to make up Lego!! Amber's new toy, the Viking chariot, was sitting in pieces and Andrew just could not resist putting it all together. Pretty sure he was ready for his slumber after that!!!

Saturday 10th November - Geneva

An early rise for us in the comfort of our hotel room. I should mention the Hotel Tiffany may not sit alongside the large grand hotels overlooking the lake but it was fantastic value for money. The streets around it were typical centre of town streets with some shop fronts looking better than others.

The hotel as the name suggests was overtly "tiffany" at every opportunity. The lamps, light fittings, furniture, decorative cornicing etc all had a tiffany flavour to them. They called it i think a boutique hotel. It's not in the luxurious league but the rooms were very clean and bathrooms newly kitted out. Fluffy towels and clean linen every day and fluffy bathrobes and slippers there for us too. The usual selection of toiletries as well. Some nice personal touches too with the maid appearing around 8pm at night with a small card indicating the weather forecast for the following day and some night time chocolates for us to enjoy. On the evenings we were not back at the hotel for 8pm the weather note and chocolates were left on our pillows and the beds turned down ready for our return and night's sleep. Nice touches we thought.

Breakfast around 9am in the hotel. The restaurant was sort of double fronted with the front entrance opening onto the street. Hotel guests were joined by non residents for morning coffee and croissants. Breakfast for us was a buffet consisting of croissant, selection of breads, scrambled eggs, sausages, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, and boiled eggs in sand. Yes, in sand. Well they were still in their shells obviously but tossed into a silver bucket of sand to keep warm I presume. Just looked weird. The cheese selection was stinky to say the least. A selection of cheeses were housed in a clear glass dome thing with a sliding door and as you opened the door......... the stench just floated out. I'm sure the cheese was lovely but not for the faint hearted first thing in the morning.

Now when you go on holiday it is always important to remember and get your roles and responsibilities sorted. In particular who is to be the chief navigator. Andrew adopted the position [clearly NOT voted in by myself or Amber] and without question we followed his suggested route only to end up taking a wrong turn and virtually circumnavigating half the town centre and ending up some 50 yards from the front door of the hotel!! Nice one Andy!! The incorrect route took us through the Saturday flea market which was nice to see apart from Amber taking pity on some scruffy looking stuffed rabbit and becoming all tearful at the prospect of not being able to rescue it!!! So we had 15 minutes of a grumpy face on Amber. And before you all shout at me for being the bad bad mum for not buying the rabbit........ it was MINGIN!!!!!

Managed to turn her grumpiness round with a game of giant chess in Parc Neuve. Andrew played to the regular chess rules whereas Amber made it up as she went along. To her advantage of course as she won the game!! Not bad for a beginner. I am sure Andrew just let her win rather than having to endure further grumpiness!!!

Our game of chess was interrupted by two american girls/tourists who approached me and asked me in pidgin French if I would take a picture of the two of them. Reassuringly I responded in English thinking they'd get the hint I was not French but sadly it didn't dawn on them and they continued to converse in the most appauling pidgin French imaginable. It's true what they say....... the Americans never leave their own country and still don't believe other nationalities exist outside! Ssshhhh ........ I won't tell them if you don't. I gave up on the tourists as I handed them back their cameras with a smile and a "merci, au revoir!" Andrew was in stitches. C'mon...... my French isn't that bad!!!

We headed out of the park towards the older part of town and St Pierre's Cathedral. A very up market area judging by the array of little designer shops, chocolate shops and cafes that lined the cobbled streets.

Furniture and design shops were filled with tasteful items for the home. Could have spent a fortune but chose NOT to venture beyond window shopping! Pricey....... very pricey. We did however venture into a small chocolate boutique and bought some treats to keep us going on our walk through Geneva.

We marched up [slowly......... there was a lot of them] the steps to St Pierre's Cathedral and opened the creeky door to see the inside. Not as grand as some of the cathedrals we have been in. There seemed to be nothing overly ornate, just simple pews and windows. Still it was warm and we stayed for a few minutes to thaw ourselves out.

We had hunted through the tourist literature before we left for Geneva and noted down the key places of interest to see. On all the postcards and on the internet, pictures of this giant flower clock lead us to believe that it was one of those joys not to be missed. So off we wandered down to hunt out the clock. We crossed the busy road and strolled up to it and even Amber turned and said to us......."is that it?" So funny since that was exactly what Andrew and I were thinking. It was a big metal clock with basic metal hands painted orange and surrounded by seasonal flowers grown in the shape of the numbers on the clock face. Perhaps it was the wrong season but the flora just didn't seem to quite make the mark if you get my meaning. But dutifully we stopped and took pictures and quickly ticked that one off our list!!! It definitely looks better on the postcards!!

Next was the search for the Jardin d'Anglais. Well us Brits like to check out anything that has our name to it in foreign countries. Eh.......... I wouldn't say it epitomised a typical English country garden unless of course you were wandering down an industrial site at the bottom end of some Kentish town!! We laughed as we stepped gingerly around the site just in case some floral gem lay out of sight. But no, it was a fenced off area of dumping ground ....... but with a lovely informative sign indicating it was indeed the Jardin d'Anglais. Maybe the Swiss too need to travel further and see for themselves what exactly an English Country garden looks like!!

But our enthusiasm wasn't to be dampened as we headed the short walk to see the Niton rocks. The literature told us that these were large rocky outcrops off the harbour front and were symbolic of Neptune and some other gothic bloke whose name escapes me. Oh yes Neiton........that was his name. Well they certainly were 2 rocks sticking out the water. Hmmmmm........ still, a chance to get the old camera out and snap those babies!

Breathtaking........simply.........breath taking. Well they took our breath away as we stood laughing our socks off!! But more seriously, the largest of the rocks was chosen by General Henri Dufour to represent the basis for the land survey of Switzerland and the establishment in 1864 of his famous 1:100,000 map. Could he not find anything more memorable to use as his basis??

But surely there was something amazing Geneva had to offer so once again we lifted our laughed out spirits and ventured further down the harbour front, this time in search of the Jet d'eau. And there is was, a giant jet of water rising tall out of the water like a major burst water main!

OK ok........ it was at it happens one of the better tourist attractions. We walked out the causeway that leads to it and stood for some more choice photographs. Praying of course the wind wasn't going to suddenly change and we'd end up getting soaked.

Then it was back up towards the old town for a spot of lunch. Keen to try some true Swiss food we headed into Amber's choice of restaurants............ the Spaghetti Factory. She was obviously in the wrong part of Europe!!! Still Amber and Andrew munched happily through their bowls of spaghetti and I opted for the Ceasar salad, a lighter choice I thought. And it would have been had it not been for the half pigs worth of fried bacon bits they chucked on top of it. I had to fight through it for the lettuce leaves!! Quite a challenge for me as they sat spinning their spaghetti round their forks.

Tummies full and off exploring again. You can tell we were most keen to fit in as much as possible into our few days in Switzerland. We had got tickets from the hotel to allow us free travel on all the buses, trams and trains. Not that it mattered much to Andrew anyway who was growing accustomed to not paying his fare!! We all hopped onto Tram 16 and headed towards La Gare........ listen to me eh, fast becoming quite fluent in my French. Off we got at the Station in search of our next tourist treat. First we had to find an area of town called Les Grottes........... I mean whatever possessed me into wanting to go to a place called Les Grottes!!! Andrew was beginning to think it was a joke as I told him that once we got there we were looking for some architectural treats of buildings called Les Schtrumpfs. Yes .........as in the Smurfs from Schtrumpfland. They were described as being somewhat Gaudi.....esque.......that's Gaudi as in the architect rather than gawdy as in....... well less than pleasant looking. Then again when you saw them it was really quite hard to decide which end of the spectrum they fell into.

The information about them describes them as being more reminiscent of a town from a comic strip. They were built in the early 80's in a Gaudi style by three unconventional architects. The 3 buildings appear to have no straight lines, just a series of "mouldings, polychrome elements, a profusion of mosaics, wrought iron, arabesques and schtrumpferies of all nature." Bet you cannot wait to see a picture of them now!! Different, very very different.

With the rain starting to tumble down we headed back towards the train station to get a bus back to the hotel. Stopping off of course for a spot of shopping in a fab kitchen shop. Lots and lots of nice dishes and items for the kitchen. I was tempted by a large majolica cabbage shaped salad bowl with matching serving spoons which on the face of it were really quite ugly but there was also something rather charming about them!! Unable to convince myself we walked away from them. Quite glad we did now!!! The things you consider buying when you are on your holidays!! Back on Tram 16 to do some shopping closer to the hotel on the main shopping street.

Globus is a large department store and Amber was keen to spend her holiday money on a toy. She eventually settled on a lego set of a Viking chariot and soldiers. Of course, what else. Walked further round the store looking for toilets and despite asking where they were just couldn't find them! Still, at least Andrew enjoyed having to endure walking through the lingerie department at least 3 times. If he said "hello ladies" to one more manequin I was going to hit him. Sadly he doesn't have any photos from his travels around the store. And yes we did find the toilets eventually, wrong floor and virtually invisible in a far corner of the shop! Handy eh if you are bursting!

Twas time for our tea by now so we headed back towards the cafe we had been to yesterday only to find it was 10 minutes from closing time. Still it gave us the incentive to head down the road to the Swiss Chalet restaurant and sample some true Swiss food....... a cheese fondue. We'd passed the place a few times but to be honest its facade never tempted us beyond its front door. Until tonight that is.

Inside was typical of a swiss chalet, everything wooden apart from the cutlery. The place had only a handful of people in so we were quite surprised when the waiter asked us if we had booked!!!! dohhh......... are you really that busy we thought? We were ushered to a table and ordered up our cheese fondue then waited with baited breath for its arrival. The waiter brought over the equipment first of all..... basically something that resembled a camping stove was placed in the centre of our table. Then he brought over a pot filled with melted cheese and a large basket of sliced bread. And that was it. So we tucked in as best we could. I thought the cheese was somewhat runny....... maybe they had watered it down. Andrew thought the same. By this point there was a sort of smell of burning eminating from the camping stove and as Andrew and I peered inside to try and investigate the waiter started to flap his hands about indicating for us the STIR STIR STIR!!!! oopsss....... darn cheese was sticking to bottom of pot. Well we did laugh and felt really quite dumb. Lo and behold when we did stir the pot the cheese was lovely and thick then!!! Overall thoughts on cheese fondues......... hmmm.......... tried it but might not again!! Felt really quite bloated and full what with filling our stomachs with bread and cheese!!!

About half way through our meal one of the regular customers came into the restaurant and the waiter seemed to indicate his "usual" table to him. It was beside ours. It was a gentleman in his late 60's early 70's. His food arrived and it consisted of an enormous bowl of pickled gherkins and a basket of boiled potatoes. A small plate was then brought over by the waiter filled with a couple of spoonfuls of melted cheese. The chap then tucked into his tasty meal for the evening........ gherkins, boiled potatoes and melted cheese. I bet your mouths are watering now.

Before heading back to the hotel we stopped off at a newsagent to pick up some milk for our coffee and for Amber. I also took the chance of picking up a magazine about homes and design. As we stood by the till the shop owner clocked up the price on the til and told us it was 16 francs in total. My brain quickly tried to convert the cost into sterling and apparently [although I disagree with Andrew's recollection of events!!!] I shrieked........ is the milk really £3!!! My voice he described as pure Scottish and militant in its tone! ooopss.

Back at the hotel and a good nights sleep ready for Sunday, naturally before our heads hit the pillow we had to sample some of the chocolate goods purchased earlier.

Friday 9th November - Geneva

We are fast becoming experts at this travel game so it was another uneventful trip to the airport at 7.40am. As usual that was of course some half an hour after Andrew's stipulated time of departure. Honestly he's such a fuss pot for timetabling our travels!!

Group B on Easyjet welcomed us aboard and regrettably we sat in front of the two biggest blethering woman to walk this planet. Yes it takes a lot for me to say that since I have been known to utter a word or two myself. But yak yak yak they did ALL the way to Geneva. Looking out the windows of the plane we could see the mountain peaks just poking above the clouds. Alas our relaxing view was suddenly shattered by some very bumpy turbulence which had the whole flight wooping and oooooowwwwing all the way up and down the aisles. My stomach was leaping around like a kangaroo. Really didn't care for it to be honest. Bit shaken to say the least. Of course Amber in her usual loud voice was asking me if we were going to crash and "DIDN'T THE PILOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE A PLANE." Very embarassing.

What can one say about Geneva Airport? Well it really isn't anything special or different than any of the european airports we've passed through. Except for one thing. They appear to allow folk to bring their dogs into the airport. How weird. Now I am not talking about dogs for the blind....... I mean dogs of the house pet variety. The large expansive areas around the check in desks were looking a bit like the forecourt of Crufts!!! Ah well, must be a Swiss thing.

Headed down the to railway station below the airport to take us into the centre of Geneva and on to our hotel. Ticket machines for the trains are all automatic and we had 3 attempts at purchasing tickets to take us into Cornavin railway station....... but strangely enough it wasn't listed on the options. So Andrew headed to the ticket booth whilst I went for a wee seat to try and salvage my stomach which I'd lost on the plane a few moments earlier!! We all felt a bit dumb as Andrew headed back with the tickets and we looked up on the digital board only to read the LARGE words....... ALL TRAINS STOP AT CORNAVIN. Dooohhhhhhhh!! Nice trains by the way....... two stories tall. British Rail they are not!!

Arrived at Cornavin in what seemed like only a matter of minutes. Hopped on a bus to take us to the Hotel Tiffany where we were staying....... well......... that's stating the obvious why else would we go to the Hotel Tiffany!!! Being the accountant Andrew always has one eye on the pennies but he took it to the extreme as I enquired about how you pay for tickets on the bus and his response was to shrug his shoulders and I was told to "live a bit." Yip, we didn't pay for our bus tickets.......... hang our heads in shame......... we are the thieving gypsies!!!

Reception at the hotel was very warm and pleasant. The smiling receptionist looked up our booking and then asked to see our passports. My hand headed down to the zip pocket on my flight bag where I keep the passports. Yes, I always keep the passports in there, nowhere else just in the zip pocket. But lo and behold I was faced with an "open zip pocket" and no passports. Whallop there went my stomach again and I'd just regained it after the bumpy flight. There was I at reception flapping about saying THE PASSPORTS THEY ARE GONE, I always put them in this pocket and THEY ARE GONE. I must have said it about 10 times when the receptionist calmly asked if I wanted to take a seat over at the side and have a good look for them. Well I was distraught....... kept telling everyone within earshot of me THE PASSPORTS ARE GONE I ALWAYS KEEP THEM IN THIS POCKET AND THEY ARE GONE!!! I KEEP THEM NOWHERE ELSE ALWAYS IN THIS POCKET AND THE PASSPORTS ARE GONE. Andrew as usual was laughing his head off but also a bit concerned the passports were not where I thought they were. But then............. I found them......... in the other pocket......... OK OK........ so 99.9999% of the time they are always in the zip pocket but this odd time they were in the other pocket. Felt quite a tube!!!

Our hotel room was on the 3rd floor at the front of the hotel so we were soon to enjoy some nice views of the streetscene below us. But only after we crawled up the narrow circular stair case because the lift was broken. At this stage I'd truly lost track of where my stomach was but it was fast replaced by my pair of heaving lungs!!!! What a climb! Or rather............ how unfit I am.

Out we went exploring after that and stumbled across a fantastic wee cafe and had a lovely big cold meat salad with some very tasty rye and seed bread. The cafe was soon to become quite a firm favourite of ours.

After we'd eaten we headed out for a stroll through the streets of Geneva, across the bridges over the river. Weather wise there sure was a nip in the air. The shop fronts displayed what seemed like endless posh watches, clothes and handbags. I was glad I didn't have my glasses on to clock the prices on them but I gather from Andrew they were pretty darn expensive. I think that was his hint to me to not even consider an early Christmas gift from Geneva. Ah well, Argos it is this year.

Several bridges cross the left and right banks, here we are standing on one of them:

A tram system covers the centre of Geneva:

Theres a mix of different types of buildings in Geneva as the following pictures show:

One shop we did head into was the Coop....... yes....... the Coop. Just a few supplies for the hotel room in case we were peckish later. Back at the hotel all we had to do was order up the hot tray with teas and coffees and it was time to head to bed and rest after our day's travel.

Some great graffiti on the wall just down from the Coop:

And a building with intricate wall painting: