Monday, April 26, 2010

Easter Holiday: Geneva, Annecy, Saleve

OK, I can post no more photos. They're just too big for blogger :'(

So instead of impressing you with the visuals, I'll have to rely on good old words. Which is a pity, because they do no justice to these places.

During the Easter holidays, we spent some time in Geneva, with friends from Hungary. I had a hard time planning the whole thing, because I wanted to keep it (relatively) cheap but interesting, while giving them an idea of Geneva and its surroundings.

We ended up doing these:

Amazingly beautiful and enchanting medieval town on Lake Annecy, in neighboring France. If you're staying in Geneva more than 2 days, a must. I'd visited it a couple of years ago, when I spent some days in the region, and ever since I've thought of it as the most beautiful town on Earth (which is something...). I was a bit disappointed now, because there were simply too many tourists to make in enjoyable. Last time I'd visited in October, so it was much better. As the attraction lies mainly in the buildings and scenery, you don't need really hot weather to enjoy the site. So try picking a period when it might be less crowded. From Geneva, take the bus from the Gare Routiere, leaving every 2 hours or so, as this is the easiest (train takes twice as long). In about 90 minutes, you can stroll the old old streets of lovely Annecy.

It's the striped mammoth of a boulder you can see well from Geneva (and farther). There are like a thousand tracks to mount it, so pick yours wisely. The panoramic and half panoramic (lol) views of Mont Blanc and other Monts as well as Geneva city (and on clear days the Jura) are just magnificent. One of the main attractions of the Saleve is its telepherique, a 5 minute cable car ride up/down the northern face. As our guest had seen my video of it and were thrilled by the idea, we took a path towards the station. The hike up can take 1.5-4 hours (I've told you, pick wisely), depending on where you start. You can find hand drawn maps and the like on the web, and we've done OK with those, but now that I have the Kümmerly+Frey Geneva (& around) Hiking Map (#21), I really think it's a good idea to get this one. It's (very) expensive, but practically indestructible and good quality. Also, it shows the track we've taken up the Saleve's northern face: The route "Orjobet" to Monnetier and then the telepherique, and our former choice, through "Le Coin" and all along the ridge. So it's worth it, if you're planning to hike in the area.

The map also gave us the idea to visit Yvoire this weekend, which I'll also post about later.

Besides general Geneva sightseeing (you know, flower clock, lakeside, Jet d'Eau, etc.), we also visited the

UN & Jardin Botanique
You can get all sorts of info on guided tours in the Palace des Nations at the UN website. I believe this is the only way to visit the site, they won't let you just wander about (lol). So we paid the fee (student discount and so on) and joined the group (passport needed), and I even got a little badge :) I was a little disappointed. I'm no activist, I believe in thorough planning and rational and doable plans, so I was really looking forward to seeing and understanding how the UN works. Well, the tour took like an hour, much of which was spent climbing stairs and crossing corridors (so take comfy shoes, chairs are sometimes provided :D). I was expecting more... But I guess, you can always buy the various publications they have in the shop at the end of the tour. Or just surf their website, which I actually find more enlightening. Well, the others loved it, so I guess it's worth it. I do have a badge, so I've nothing to complain about. (lol)

I love Geneva's parks. Parc des Eaux Vives and de la Grange are one of my favorites, but the Jardin Botanique beats them easily. It's really close to the UN buildings, so I think it's a good option to combine the two, if you're visiting. It's actually just that, a botanic garden, with plants from all over the world, and while its totally public (and free) it's in amazing conditions. (But things don't generally get stolen in CH, unlike in Budapest, where flowering cabbages get stolen from parks...) It's stunningly beautiful too, especially in spring and summer (obviously), and is connected to another of the great parks on the northern side of the lake (rive droite). So it's a great place for strolls, which is exactly what we did.

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