Lake Geneva Region
“Western Europe’s biggest lake stretches like a liquid mirror between French-speaking Switzerland (north) and France (south). Known as Lake Geneva by most or Lac Léman to Francophones, the Swiss shore cosets palm-tree-studded Riviera resorts and emerald vines marching uphill.” ~Lonely Planet, Europe on a Shoestring
“Supersleek, slick and cosmopolitan, Geneva (Genève in French, Genf in German) is a rare breed of city. It’s one of Europe’s priciest. Its people chatter in every language under the nsun (184 nationalities comprise 45% of the city’s population) and it’s constantly though of as the Swiss capital—which it isn’t. This gem of a city superbly strung around the sparkling shores of Europe’s largest Alpine lake is, in fact, Switzerland’s third-largest city. Yet the whole world is here—the UN, International Red Cross, International Labour Organization and World Health Organization included.” ~Lonely Planet, Europe on a Shoestring
“In a fabulous location overlooking Lake Geneva, Lausanne is an enchanting beauty with several distinct personalities: the former fishing village, Ouchy, with its summer beach-resort feel; Place St-François, with stylish, cobblestone shopping streets, and Flon, a warehouse district of bars, galleries and boutiques. One of the country’s grandest Gothic cathedrals dominates its medieval centre.” ~Lonely Planet, Europe on a Shoestring
I. Am. In. Love. Switzerland is an amazing country. It’s so beautiful. The lake is beautiful. The towns are beautiful. The mountains and countryside are beautiful. The people are nice. The population is very diverse and always keeps you on your toes. The public transportation is always nearby and easy to use. Switzerland is an excellent place to sightsee, explore, adventure AND relax. I found it so amazing how one country could feel like a beautiful vacation spot and like relaxing piece of home all at once.
Almost every town on the lake has a marina teeming with sailboats big and small. There are competitive sailors and cruising sailors. There are benches every 30 feet or so with an excellent view of the lake and the beaches. This was one of my favorite parts, especially since I’ve been lake-deprived this summer.
Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s actually quite easy to stick to a budget here. Plus, the Swiss Franc bank notes are the most colorful I’ve ever seen, so it’s hard to not want to keep them. Just plan ahead. When do you want to eat out? What kind of food? Where? How much money do you want to spend? The nice thing about the geographical location of Switzerland is that it’s in the middle of all the excellent food and beverage regions of Europe, so it’s easy to find the good stuff at the grocery stores as well.
Holiday Highlights (a peek at The List)
- Mission: Wear Skirts continues after a brief hiatus in rainy Ireland. Once again, this was essential for soaking up the sun and the warmth. I also noticed that, in this region of Europe, it helps for blending in instead of looking like a backpacker tourist chick (I was mistaken for a local five times).
- On Sunday, September 11th I decided I would kick neutral Europe’s ass by driving to the Versazca Dam in Locarno to do the GoldenEye Bungee Jump. This was one of the most amazing days of my whole three weeks of holidays. Driving through the mountains, along the lakesides, through the multiple tunnels (one was 17 km long), and up the mountain-side to the dam was fun in and of itself. Then, I strapped into the bungee gear, smiled at the hot jump master, and plummeted to the earth 220 meters below me. I did it all by myself and although I sometimes wish that I could have shared it with someone—especially when I couldn’t get a good video of the jump because I trusted my camera to a stranger, and when I was singing at the top of my lungs to the only country radio station in the Swiss Alps—I am proud of myself for going big instead of going home. Next time, though, I’m bringing friends.
- I did a lot of reading in Switzerland, but I always coupled it with relaxing in the cultural epicenters of the towns I was in. A bit of fantasy in text, reflection on the past, imagination in present and people watching made for a livelier romantic-comedy-drama than I could ever see in a theater.
- I had an impromptu French grammar revision session at dinner one night when I ordered “Steak du Frommage avec un Oeuf.” I was confused at first as to why I was not asked how I wanted my meat cooked. Then, when the food was brought out, I was reminded that “Steak du Frommage” means “Steak of Cheese” and not “Steak with Cheese”. Whoops. Oh well, it was still delicious!