Geneva and Gruyeres, Switzerland
19.07.2017 - 22.07.2017 80 °F
Our flight-related woes continued as we arrived at the Barcelona airport. Although check-in was easy, I got to learn some new words in Spanish as they suspected that my laptop had an "incendiary device" in it. I give a lot of credit to my Spanish teachers for teaching me how to order at restaurants, how to buy train tickets, and how to ask for directions, but the lessons may have fallen a little short in that I wasn't sure how to explain that I wasn't trying to bring weapons onto the aircraft. After me turning the laptop on, showing the logo of my work, and then having it swabbed for the fifth time for bomb residue, the Spanish transportation authority decided that the balding guy with a baby, wife, and mother-in-law probably wasn't a threat after all.
We got to the terminal with plenty of time to spare, but I kept getting alerts that the plane was delayed. It was first delayed 15 minutes, then 45, then an hour, then two hours, and that's when I concluded that we weren't getting on the plane. We finally boarded the plane three hours later and the pilot explained that the delay was caused by unruly passengers on the previous flight who had to be forcibly removed by the police. After being in an airport with poor air-conditioning, 70% humidity, and a tired child, I thought that I was next if they didn't hurry up and get the plane off the ground.
We arrived in Geneva without further incident, and we quickly learned that no one spoke English. In Spain, I was somewhat useful with my broken Spanish, but I felt my utility drastic decreasing as the cab driver spoke in French. Unlike my adventures in Mozambique, Spanish is not AT ALL similar to French when spoken, and I had to rely on Google Translate to get to our Airbnb. We lugged in the suitcases, and I had the task of walking up two flights of stairs with all the suitcases. The size and beauty of the Airbnb made it all worth it, though.
Walking up two flights of stairs with three fifty pound suitcases definitely gave me a nice workout
But Ethan seemed to like the apartment just fine
The next day we walked around Lake Geneva and got to explore the famous fountain in Geneva (Jet D'Eau), the flower clock, and the harbor. We ordered a few sandwiches to go (in Spanish, mind you) and had a nice lunch by the lake.
Docked on Lake Geneva
Sunflowers were everywhere
Wait, chocolate churos? This is everything I never knew I always wanted
Worth the calories
The flower clock
The fountain in the English Garden with the Jet D'Eau in the distance
When we walked over to the fountain, Danielle asked, "How is it that we are not getting wet?"
"The wind isn't blowing towards us," I responded.
Thirty seconds later, the wind shifted and we got drenched like the first row would at a Killer Whale show. I quickly retreated baby in hand, and Danielle got a few funny shots of Ethan bracing himself in the temporary monsoon.
The Jet D'Eau
Grandma Keri and Ethan
Ethan and I quickly retreating from the fountain after the wind changed and drenched the crowd
The lakeside was nice, but Geneva doesn't have much else going for it besides the picturesque landscape. The next day I decided to rent a car so we could tour Switzerland a bit on our own. I picked up the car at the airport, and went back to the apartment to pick up the family on our way to the town of Gruyeres. If that name sounds familiar, you've probably had their famous cheese. There was a cheese factory, and I decided that it would be a fun thing to do since it was only about an hour and a half away. We had a tour of the cheese factory, and we finished it up with a lunch at their restaurant where I was treated to three very rich courses containing their signature cheese.
Cheese factory in Gruyeres
And said cheese on Macaroni
The town of Gruyeres
A resident making his way to the other side
When I mentioned that I wanted to take a day-trip to Gruyeres, Danielle asked me what was special about it. I told her about the cheese factory which seemed reason enough, but she pressed me for more details. Feeling lazy at the time, I just handed my phone over to Danielle so she could read more about it. She read for a few minutes and then asked, "who is H.R. Giger?" My eyes suddenly widened.
H.R. Giger is the main artist behind the visual effects for the Alien movie franchise. In building my bucket list, I had read that he had a museum and a bar in his native Europe that you could visit. The bar is designed like the inside of the Alien spaceship, and I decided I had to go if I ever got the chance. Time has a good way of making one forget these things, and I had thought that the bar was in Belgium. I quickly took back my phone and read that H.R. Giger was actually Swiss and that the bar and museum was only a 15 minute drive from the cheese factory. I was more excited than a kid on Christmas.
Although pictures weren't allowed in the museum itself, the artwork was incredibly fascinating. If you've ever seen the Alien movies, the style of the paintings depicted those images but it was oddly sexual with one picture displaying floating aliens that looks like condoms, another that had a two-sided sex toy, and others in various positions of bondage. The risque nature of the art didn't take away from it's beauty, but it was definitely something I wasn't expecting. Luckily, the bar allowed us to take pictures, and I have a ton of those below. The best part is that it was every bit as amazing as I had hoped it would be.
The H.R. Giger Museum
This looks familiar
The "Alien" theme bar across the street
And the view from our table
These images look a lot different with and without the flash
With the flash
The android is infected!
What do you get at the Alien bar? Blood shots, of course!
Poor, unfortunate souls
A close-up of the arch
It felt oddly ergonomic
I'll have another
We had dinner at a fondue restaurant back in Geneva called, "Chez Stucki." We had booked yet another table on TheFork (not paid by the company at all, just a huge fan), and the food was incredible. We were the hosts only table for the evening, so they walked us through the best Swiss dishes to order. We started with a salad, followed by two types of fondue with onions, bread, and potatoes for dipping, and we finished up with a potato hamburger. The hosts even showed us how each layer of fondue tasted distinctly different as we worked our way down. The intimacy of the meal made it feel less like a restaurant and more like we were in their home. This restaurant is an absolute must if you find yourself in the Geneva area.
Our host for the evening
And her partner showing us the art of fondue
Keri and Mr. Peanut
This looks like a regular hamburger, but the patties are actually potato. This thing was so good, one of the best dishes I've had all trip.
The last day of the trip we used for rest, relaxation, and well, blogging. Danielle and Keri booked a massage at a local day-spa, and Ethan and I got to tool around the neighborhood together. I had heard that their was a museum dedicated to the protestant reformation, and I decided to make that my last stop on our Swiss tour.
The Reformation was the start of what we call Protestantism today. It started in 1517 when a Catholic Priest, Martin Luther, issued 95 treatises of what was wrong with the Catholic church. His chief complaint was that individuals with money could pay to be absolved of their sins. He also believed that individuals didn't need a priest to be closer to god. He left the Catholic church with the goal of correcting the course of Christianity. One of the goals of Martin Luther and his successors was to translate the bible into numerous languages to make it more accessible to the masses.
About 50 years before that time, the printing press had been invented by Johannes Gutenburg in Germany (it was probably invented FIRST somewhere else, but we'll call it a speciation event). Martin Luther used this invention to distribute the bible widely around the world. The museum prohibited pictures, but I did get to use an ancient printing press in a special exhibit. It wasn't exactly a life goal, but it was pretty neat to see how books used to be made, one press at a time.
If you plan to come to this part of the world, I would suggest only a day for Geneva and to rent a car for the rest of it. Our best adventure was the day-trip to Gruyeres, and when Danielle and I find ourselves back here, I think we'll take a road trip instead. It's off to Paris for the International AIDS Society conference and a few of the city's highlights, more to come on Wednesday.