Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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!!!

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