The overnight train ride was, frankly, a bit much and probably not something we‘ll repeat. The seats were more spacious than airplane seats, but still no good to sleep on, and the train, an IC, did still stop about once an hour for major cities, and so there was a major hustle and bustle of people getting on and off, and the lights were never dimmed—why I expected that, I am not sure, but it sure didn‘t happen! So by morning, when we had to change trains in Basel for Bern at 6:30, and then again in Bern for Geneve at about 7:45, we were good and tired! But we perked up when the last train route started to follow the coastline of Lake Geneva (just quite a bit higher up on the inclines above the cities and small towns between Lausanne and Geneva, which is on the very Western tip of the lake). The view was beautiful, and we were excited for Geneva.
We arrived at about 9:30 and put our luggage in a locker to go exploring. We went across the Rhone where it exits the lake. It was sunny and already very warm and pleasant. First, we went in search of an ATM for some Swiss franks, and a simple breakfast at an outdoor cafe. I knew this was the French part of Switzerland, of course, but I was surprised how French everything felt and looked—the townhouses, the cafe menus, and of course the ubiquitous French that all but the obvious tourists were speaking. After breakfast, we checked out the Old City and the Cathedral (where Calvin used to hang out). It’s beautiful in the old town with its crooked streets going up hill, but more like Montmartre than like the old town of Prague. The Cathedral is a complete hodgepodge of styles on the outside, with neoclassical columns in front of a basically northern Gothic church, and a crazy little side chapel in „flamboyant Gothic“ that the Calvinists ignored and used as a salt cellar. We climbed the cathedral towers for a great panorama view of Geneva, the lake and the mountains left and right.
Then we crossed back to the other side of the Rhone and walked along the lake shore until just past the point where the public baths are jutting out on a pier. We walked to the end of the next pier, which was part of the marina (where people were swimming although it was prohibited—I did stick my feet in the water, which was not quite as cold as I had imagined), and watched boats and people and swans. There was the obligatory statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and a ridiculous neo-Gothic monstrosity to commemorate some Duke of Brunswick or another. But it was mostly the lake itself, with the enormous Jet d’Eau fountain that was nice to look at. By that time, we were close to the neighborhood where our hotel is located. Since were getting very tired, even though it was not even 2 pm, we decided to retrieve our luggage from the train station to see whether our hotel would take us in a little early. We were in luck, and the Edelweiss hotel, with its somewhat cheesy but very new rustic decor, gave us our room at 2 pm instead of 3 pm. We took much-needed showers and crashed. We had a lot of night time sleep to catch up on, and it had gotten very warm, too, so a cool clean bed was about perfect.
By the time we got back up at 4 pm, the sky had clouded over and it started raining as we were searching for a restaurant. Swiss prices (hotels and restaurants) strike us as painfully high, but eventually we settled on an Indian place near where we‘re staying, and had some very good chicken korma and paneer in a tomato-based sauce. But they charged extra for the rice and were clearly not happy that all we wanted to drink was water. We then walked around a bit more until it started pouring again, had some gelato, got some groceries to have a cheap hotel-room breakfast rather than shelling out 18 Swiss Franks for each of us for breakfast, and headed home for the night. Not a maxed-out day by any stretch, but we need some R&R, and tomorrow will be very busy—we‘re headed to CERN!