Our trip to Geneva involved lots of walking and us saying, “Is this even real?” The fact that people wake up every morning and just live normal lives in a place like Geneva is astounding. It was absolutely beautiful, which is really lucky, because we couldn’t afford much more than walking around.
As you might have noticed, I’ve been to a few countries since I left the US. They’ve varied in many ways, but one very important variance is the cost of living. I look into the cost of living before I go somewhere so I know how much I can expect to spend on things like transportation (when necessary) and food. I have been to some expensive places. London was pricey, Paris was too, and Copenhagen was up there as well. However, none of those places have anything on Geneva. Geneva blew every other place I’ve been to waaaaaay out of the water with its cost of living. To give you the general idea, a meal at McDonalds (burger, fries, and soda) was $13. An entree at a Applebees-level restaurant was anywhere from $18-$30. Nicer places had prices that weren’t even fathomable. So, Maya and I mostly lived on the free breakfast at our hostel (which was not bad at all) and Fruit Loops we got at a convenience store (which cost us $5 a box).
Another thing I’ll say about Geneva in comparison to other cities I’ve been to is that it’s definitely not overpopulated. Places like London and Barcelona were just packed with people, but Geneva definitely wasn’t. There was plenty of room on all of the sidewalks and traffic never seemed too bad. It felt kind of empty, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with how expensive it is to live there. If anything, the lack of overcrowding definitely added to the peacefulness of Geneva.
Geneva also looks expensive. Geneva is the cleanest, perfectly manicured place I’ve ever been to. We could see beautiful mountains from almost anywhere, the lake was breathtaking, and everywhere we looked was a mini botanical garden. I don’t think the people of Geneva believe in just green space. If there was grass, there were also gorgeous, perfect flowers, benches, fountains, anything you could think of. There were even little water fountains (that were constantly running – there was no button to push or anything) everywhere so people could refill their water bottles.
As we walked along the streets, we constantly passed extremely fancy restaurants where classy looking people were drinking wine and laughing. The cars parked on the side of the road were worth more than everything I’ll ever own in my entire life put together. Porsche, Ferrari, Bentley, you name it. And it wasn’t just one fancy car here and there – they were everywhere. Shoes also seemed to be very important to the residents of Geneva. There were so many fabulous high heels and boots. They made our sneakers look very out of place.
Additionally, Geneva is incredibly safe. We saw lots of young kids out roaming by themselves, even on public transportation. That was actually really impressive, because we could barely understand how their transportation system worked. It was very easy to use and all, but there were a million different kinds! There were trams, buses, buses that were also sort of trams…and they weren’t labeled very clearly. The transportation map was pretty much useless, as were any other maps we tried to use. Geneva seems to be good at a lot of things, but making maps is not one of them. On the bright side, all of our transportation was completely free. If you stay in a hotel or hostel in Geneva, you get a free transportation card for the entirety of your stay. We didn’t have to use it too often, though. The weather was beautiful and nothing was really too far away, so we walked a lot (my legs are quite unhappy about it today).
Geneva is famous for its watchmaking, so there were snazzy watch stores like Omega and Rolex all over the place. There was also a Swatch gallery that displayed all of its models since 1983. It was so awesome. The Swatch store also had the biggest selection I have ever seen, but I resisted the temptation to buy one. Regardless, I was in heaven. We also found the famous flower clock, which is exactly what it sounds like – a clock made out of flowers. It was really neat, and I’m glad we planned our trip in the spring because otherwise it would have just been a dirt clock. The Jet D’eau (that giant fountain in most of my pictures) made a really pretty scene even prettier, although it was only on sometimes. We couldn’t quite figure out if it was due to wind or temperature or what that decided whether or not it would be on.
We also got to see the United Nations Headquarters, which was way cooler than I was expecting. It was really neat to be there and think about how many important people have met there to decide about simple things like world peace and whatnot. It was also just beautiful, but I guess I should have been used to that since basically everything in Geneva was beautiful. The broken chair was much bigger than I had anticipated, so that was a fun aspect as well.
As we explored Geneva, Maya and I had to stop often to just gaze at the view. I almost forgot how much I love mountains. It’s very flat here in The Netherlands, and it obviously is at home, too. Luckily, I get to visit Victoria in Colorado this summer, so I won’t have to wait too long to see mountains again!
I have just over two weeks left. I’ve been very anxious lately. School has been getting very busy, I’m traveling all the time, and tons of plans keep popping up. I keep thinking of things that I need to do “before I leave,” which is a really painful phrase to say out loud. Time just goes so quickly now. I am incredibly excited to see everyone at home, but I wish there was a way to take Leiden with me. I can’t believe I only have two trips left! This Thursday I’m traveling to Prague, Czech Republic and I am ecstatic. Next Thursday I will be headed to Santorini, Greece for my last trip! After that, the next time I’ll be on a plane is to fly home. It doesn’t feel real yet, and it probably won’t until I’m halfway through that 10 hour flight 😛