This year my mom had some health issues and I had an unplanned trip to Portugal. Since it was not booked in advance, the best option for the return flight was to have a connection flight from Geneva, Switzerland. Last time I was there it was in 2011, to visit my sister. This day-trip definitely brought some memories back!
Interesting facts about Geneva:
Geneva’s English Garden has the world’s largest Flower Clock. Its face is five meters in diameter, and consists of 6,500 live flowers that grow and bloom at different times, making the clock periodically change in color.
Geneva is the birthplace of Internet as we know it today. The World Wide Web was created in a laboratory in the city. Today millions around the world log on to this innovation to get the latest information, news, trends and keep up with their contacts via social media.
With Switzerland being politically neutral, it is no wonder that Geneva is home to the headquarters of the European branch of the United Nations, the European branch of the International Red Cross and the World Health Organization. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed.
With 40% of its residents coming from outside of Switzerland, Geneva is the most international city in the world.
This year I had to fly to Portugal to check on my mom and had to book a connection flight with a layover of 8h in Geneva, Switzerland. I thought this could be a nice opportunity to see my sister who lives there, as we haven’t seen each other since I moved to Malta. However, she was in France that weekend so we couldn’t meet.
The last time I was in Geneva it was in 2011. I was a kid. I remember that I went with my mom to visit her, right after our father passed away. However, last time my sister was working the whole time and we didn’t have a lot of time to see the city properly. This time I did, and it was nice wandering around the city alone. The city looked more bright, as now it was sunny and warm and last time I went it was cold and snowy.
There is never a shortage of things to do in Geneva as the city has a history that dates back more than four thousand years. There are monuments, many museums and dazzling architecture to take in, not to mention the many gardens and botanic sites throughout the green city where nature walks and marvelous views abound.
As the second largest city in the country situated on the banks of Lac Léman, Geneva is home to many cultural, historical and natural attractions while also being the hub of banking, technology and tourism.
The famous Lac Léman claims the distinction of being the largest lake in Europe. This lake brings the drama and awe-inspiring natural splendour of the Alps to the centre of the city. The lake’s beauty has affected the design of the city itself, as a promenade was built around the shore in the mid-19th century. Next to the water are tree-lined promenades with palatial townhouses or serene parks.
In this lake you can find the Jet d’Eau, which is one of the world’s tallest water fountains. The Jet d’Eau is five hundred litres of water per second propelled to a height of 140 metres. This water fountain has become one of the best known symbols and landmarks of Switzerland.
If you do want to get a closer look, take care as the plume is susceptible to the wind and you may get wet. The jet has been at its present spot since 1951, and originally had an important practical use: It started in 1886 as a safety valve for the hydraulic power plant, and became a permanent monument as the city loved the way it looked.
Close to the water jet, you see a big bridge. The locals of Geneva consider the Mont Blanc Bridge, stretching over the River Rhône and Lake Geneva, to be of symbolic value. There are 27 flags of Switzerland’s regions, symbolizing the country’s unity.
After resting next to the water for a bit, I started climbing to visit the old part of the city – Vielle Ville. The Vielle Ville twists around a hill capped by a cathedral and was once enveloped by defensive walls. Getting around on these steep cobblestone streets and stairways is tiring but worthwhile: The old centre is densely packed with intriguing little corners, fountains, terraces with lookouts, as well as places of real historic value.
There I visited the Cathedrale de St-Pierre. This famous cathedral is best known for its historic significance as the church where John Calvin gave his inspiring sermons during the mid-16th century.
One of the oldest architectural structures in Geneva – the Tavel House – has also been attracting curious travelers from around the world for over nine centuries. Today, it hosts a history museum with expositions that reflect the local people’s everyday lives from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
After visiting the shops close to the Vielle Ville, I walked back to the lake shore and visited the Flower Clock, located in the English Gardens. This was first built in 1955 and is an ode to the watch industry, of which Geneva sets the standard.
The centerpiece of these gardens is the fountain, cast at a foundry in Val d’Osne in France in 1862. The park’s curving paths radiate off this monument, out to the promenade where you can get a photo of the Jet d’Eau and contemplate the lake.
After all the walking, it was time for me to head back to the airport and wait for my final flight back to Malta. It was nice to see the city again and to have some time to wander and be alone.