For anyone who has been following me, I can only apologise for the state of this blog since April this year. It’s just been such madness and sadness of a year and writing wasn’t something I could really commit to. There’s also always this tendency for wanting things to follow a specific system and order and I knew that ‘travel’ was my next posting category but what travel is there to speak of in this moment of time, and in this part of the world? And there’s only so much of throwbacks one can find in the storage recesses of old photos of bygone days. So this is going to be less of a useful travel anecdote which was initially designed for others to have an idea of what they could see/ do/ eat/ stay at should they be dropping by the same city but a purely self-indulgent and self-reflecting anecdote about Geneva.
I’ve never been to Geneva for leisure but only for intellectual and/ or professional reasons, and in one instance, to visit a beloved friend in hospital who then passed away four months later. So it’s never quite a city I explored through the luxurious prism of fun and adventure but rather through one of deadlines, responsibilities and bereavement. It’s the second city in Europe I’ve lived in, apart from London, so another face of the continent I have some intimacy with. I’ve written before about how the Geneva era was not a happy one for various reasons. But lately, I have started to ease up on my passive aggressive hostility against her and appreciate her for what she is – a very posh place designed for the bourgeouise and who meant well, but just didn’t have the capacity to really empathise with the proletarian. Clean, functioning, small, elegant and beautiful. If you want to sign up here, please upgrade yourself to her level. Fatten your pockets, soften your awkward edges and bring your finest to the table. I used to resist her because it angered me that I was too much of a ruffian to truly embody her spirit but with age, one comes to celebrate one’s aberrations, make peace with it and in turn, wish peace on those that we cannot be accepted by.
The past year and a half has also triggered us to do more technological clean-up and I’ve stumbled on so many old photos of life in Geneva more than a decade ago. It’s amazing how we have such strong memories of feeling a certain way internally, and how we mask it so well externally. I don’t remember most of where I ate, hung out in, did or shopped at in Geneva but the few that I do I still maintain till today.
Cafe Wolfisberg in Carouge – I really recommend this cafe for a Saturday brunch. It was usually where I took friends who came to visit over the weekend. They do great patisseries, hearty Continental breakfasts and rich coffees – cozy and family-friendly ambiance where you can sit, read the paper or catch up for hours without being hurried out. Also a great place to lounge around after a long day exploring Carouge.
Carouge in general – Which brings us to this delightful ‘municipality’ (not sure what that really means) in Geneva. From the Gare, take the Line 18 Tram or Line 7 bus and get off at Carouge. You’ll feel like you dropped in a little Italian village and are no longer within the more traditional architecture of Geneva. Pretty colourful doors and shutters, little boutiques and artisan shops dotted around the town square. I lived here in the first few months of my year in the city with a super delightful Genevese lady who played such an influential role in my ideals of how to be proudly alone and stay enchanted and optimistic by life no matter one’s age. Carouge was actually modelled after Nice, and part of the city’s Sardinian heritage. There is a lovely bohemian patina emanating throughout the district, and which was the only part of Geneva that felt somehow more human.
Flea market in Plainpalais – Every Wednesday and Saturday, a flea market is set up at the Plainpalais square. You can get there from the Gare by taking the Line 15 Tram. You. may land up with vintage brass candlesticks, maps, old banknotes, or some odd war momento (!!) and for the more ambitious of us, if you’re patient enough to weed through the piles of repetition you may be rewarded by some old 18th century furniture that can be upholstered into a more contemporary style and be somewhat of a statement piece. All at decent prices.
Globus – This is not a particularly special proposal – everyone knows about Globus. It’s a shopping department store on Rue du Rhone (where all the retail stores are including the even more fancy Bon Genie) where you can pretty much find whatever you need or want. I am especially fond of Globus because of the cafeteria on the ground floor – they offer global cuisine including hideously priced Thai noodles, but it satisfied my craving for Asia during one of those ‘I long to eat good food from my region of origin’ moments. But in case you want to do some cosmopolitan shopping that doesn’t have to be Swiss specific, then head to Globus for fashionable apparel, house deco and good food.
That’s pretty much all I can come up with for this round of Travel Anecdotes.. looking for more inspiration in upcoming ones…
A vintage memory from the summer of 2009, with a friend from University whom I haven’t seen since that summer. No idea where I was apart from the fact that we were eating cheese in some random restaurant and I looked particularly happy when I recall it to be one of the most depressing summers I’ve ever lived.