Friday, July 3, 2009
random shot of a street in geneva
and another one, from near the catedral saint-pierre
the coolest carosel i've ever seen in my life- in the botanical gardens in geneve
lake leman. it's a massive lake in the center of geneva and reminded me of where the columbia meets the ocean or puget sound or some other giant ocean-like body of water in the middle of a city. the lake was very helpful because-since i like to wander off following my whims and not pay attention to where i'm going- it was easy to get my bearings. it was sort of like seattle- the water is at the bottom of town and everything is up hill from there.
sweet anti-fascist stencil art from geneva. this nice lady is throwing her swastica in the trash. good idea!
i got back to nevers yesterday from a few days in geneva. i had planned on just being there a night and then cruising south from there- but once i got there i quickly realized that if i didn't spend at least a few days there wandering the city, i'd regret it for the rest of my life. it was an amazing place.
there was anarchist grafitti all over the place and i found a really cool infoshop/bike coop/housing space that was covered in all sorts of interesting grafitti and posters. also generally there were lots of socially aware stickers and spray painted things all around and i was very happy about it. geneva is a unique place and very different from anywhere i've ever been. to begin with- switwerland is a pretty diverse place. there is no "swiss" language- people speak italian, german, or french depending on where they are. and most folks have some english proficiency as well- fortunately for me. beyond the international nature of switzerland itself- geneva is home to the world hq of the united nations, unicef, the wto, and a bunch of other international agencies. so there are all these international diplomatic types wandering around everywhere. and students. i stayed in this great hostel that was next door to a grad school for international relations. dude who ran the hostel told me that the place had 130 rooms and there were people there from 55 different countries. seriously- it was like nothing i've ever encountered.
then there are the rich folks. geneva is a popular tourist destination for rich people and initially i hated it there because the rich people were everywhere, in their fancy clothes and shopping at all those crazy expensive places- louis vitton, chritian dior, crap like that. ugh. who cares? oh yeah, rich people. i took pride in my traveler's stench, beat up tennis shoes, and the fact that i'd only brought one change of clothes with me. there were tons of super-fake, magazine beautiful people everywhere and i hated them. but i made myself get over it because geneva is a big place and there was a lot to do and see without getting caught up in that. and just for the record- it is an expensive city to be in, but if you ever make it there, cheap hostels abound. it just takes a bit of research to find them. i had a really sweet set up- a decently priced room all to myself with a little kitchen in it. so i just got groceries most of the time and that saved me a lot of money. plus the hostel had this cafeteria-cafe thing in it that was very reasonable. but it was really wierd to be travling in my style and walking where all these disgustingly rich people were.
um... moving on from bashing the wealthy...
hightlights of the trip-
the botanical gardens. seriously one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen in my entire life. i wandered for hours, smelling flowers, getting lost in greenhouses full of the most exotic plants, and walking barefoot in the grass.
by chance, i got there the year of jean calvin's 500th birthday so there was all this stuff around about the reformation. i learned a lot about it all and hung out in the catedral saint pierre, where calvin preached. i guess he lived in that part of town as well, so i was walking the same streets that he did. geneva was a refuge during the reformation- people were getting burned at the stake and drawn and quartered all over the place in france, germany, and england- but geneva was much more accepting. it was all very interesting- but i was struck again by the total absense of any women in the history of the whole thing. i went to this museum of the reformation that had room after room of historical information- but only about poeple with penises. perhaps i'm beating a dead horse here- but it still annoys me that 500 years ago- "progress" for me would have been being able to read because my husband decided that i should be able to teach the kids about the bible. i mean- it's great that someone decided the bible should be translated so that folks didn't have to rely on the priests to know latin and greek and everything. i just get tired of knowing that i wouldn't have been anything just cuz i don't have a penis. and i was already annoyed about that sort of thing because all the rich people epitomized everything i hate about traditional gender roles- all the women were super dressed up and showing a lot of skin while the men were fully clothed and got to walk around in sensible shoes. pretty disgusting.
all in all, the disgustingly wealty aside, geneva was a great place and i really loved it. i hope some day i can be there awhile longer to really dig into it, but i got a good start. immediately after arriving there, the strange justaposition of anarchist grafitti and rich people told me there was a lot more to the city than the private banks and super expensive hotels for the wealthy. indeed, every direction i went, i found myself surrounded by interesting people and beautiful architecture. there are random fountains, statues, and parks all over the place and ordinary genevans seem to do a lot of kicking it outdoors. the lake was beautiful and there were many grassy park type areas all along the lake. every time i left my hostel, i tried to set off in a new direction and see as much as i could. but in the end, it was time to go and i had to say au revior to unexplored sections of the city.
that's it for now. i had written more but the internet crapped out on me and i lost it, so this will have to do.