Neither old nor new, neither ugly nor beautiful, neither city nor town. Geneva, what the hell are you?
Geneva’s location is as picturesque as it gets. Surrounded by mountains on its outskirts and with a stunning crystal clear lake at its centre, there is no doubting its appeal. However like a lingerie model in the light of day, there is no denying it’s flaws. Whether it rubbish strewn streets or buildings in disrepair it is a jekyll and hyde city.
The people of Geneva are a cosmopolitan mixture which would make London blush with embarrassment. As lovely and liberal as the concept is it inevitably leads to people feeling a greater association with the culture of their nationality than any affinity with their city, and that is visible in Geneva’s unkempt appearance. Generally speaking the people I encountered were a contradiction to normality as there first language is French, yet somehow they have learnt manners and were generally helpful.
I was also surprised to see that they have a national obsession with cheese. Whether they boil it or fry it or fire it from a rocket, pretty much anything goes with cheese. I am all for cheese, however after two and a half days in Geneva I suspect my dna is now approximately 38% cheese.
The stereotypes regarding watches, cuckoo clocks, chocolate and lederhosen appear to be massively misplaced when examine Geneva. There are an impressive number of watch shops and there is even a watch museum however that is it. I saw 1 cuckoo clock, no yodellers and a lot less chocolate than I expected.
I experienced a tiny cultural education regarding the writer JJ Rousseau in an audio visual museum charting his life. Very early in the tour the audio guide proudly recounts a moment when JJ and his dad got drunk with a group of soldiers and his declared ‘that jj would never find any other people like Genevians’. Obviously his Dad being drunk bared no relation to him believing that the soldiers were his best mates. Interestingly enough his work was later banned and burned in home town. It’s a perfect example of this alluring, yet hypocritical melting-pot which is Geneva.
Would I recommend visiting Geneva? It is certainly worth seeing but it is not worth a standalone trip. 2 days is enough to see what’s worth seeing. It’s one of those places which you visit just to say you have been.