Before I arrived here I already had a picture of Geneva in my head. It was that of a rich modern super city organised by Germans whilst being culturally styled by the French. How wrong was I?
In the first 30 mins of arriving I found myself marvelling at the unique beauty of its location,the unique mish mash of cultures which surround you and the bizarre sight of shop signs advertising their wares in both French and English. However it wears off quick enough.
The first thing which wakes you back into reality is the sheer cost of living. It isn’t only that everyday things are inordinately expensive its the fact that they try to charge you for anything they can thing of. Whether its the ‘free’ WiFi or wanting to buy take away food to actually take away,they would charge you for the air you are breathing if they thought they could get away with it.
It set me thinking about why on earth it is so expensive? As a city its not much to look at. The streets are dirty and in disrepair. Many buildings look as if they haven’t had a lick of paint for 500 years. Then the answer came to me. The reason life is so expensive here is that they have to pay for a time machine which keeps them trapped in the 1980’s.
Regarding the internationalness of Geneva. After some time it struck me that I hadn’t seem a swiss restaurant/shop/cafe/bakery/church anywhere. In fact I hadn’t seen a single sign which advertised any aspect of Swiss culture. I am seriously starting to wonder if they have any.
The last thing I shall say is that in my hostel I was delighted to note that they sell Swiss army knives. The reason it made me happy was two fold. First of all it explains why Switzerland has remained neutral through any conflict. It’s not that they are pacifists its that they don’t any confidence in an army which goes to war with a knife, a magnifying glass, a nail file, scissors, a bottle opener but no gun. The second is that it only confirms my theory of the 80’s time machine. Back when kids used to go out and climb trees, when apple’s were things which people ate and not electronic crack for teenagers, a multi-functional out door tool would have been appreciated by any young boy.
Perhaps I am missing the bigger picture. Perhaps the reason I haven’t seen a single teenager in my first few hours here is because they are all up in the mountains practising their yodelling and Swiss armying with their knives. Perhaps life is better here. What I have seen is a mere scratch on the surface. It’s like the star-headed screwdriver on your Swiss army knife. It’s a comforting thought but it isn’t actually any use out here in the wild