Here we go again! Another business trip and this time ya girl is in Geneva, Switzerland. If you can recall last year I was in Paraguay, so not only a new city but a different continent. I’m always grateful for these trips as one can imagine. Even though I wasn’t solo travelling this time around I got to do a little exploring in between meetings and on my day off.
GENEVA: A Peaceful Lakeside Haven
Geneva is located at the southern tip of Lac Leman and is the second largest city in Switzerland. Despite its small size, Geneva is also home to a wide array of international organizations, such as the UN and Red Cross. Not to mention Switzerland is also known for its swiss watches and chocolate thus a staple in Geneva.
Fun Fact: Geneva is one of the greenest cities in Europe: 20% of the country is covered in green areas.
First off, my flight was provided for given my attendance at the meeting. The route included going from Antigua to New York, then onto London and finally Geneva; same for my return flight. Unfortunately, I was delayed in Antigua which created a domino effect on all my other connecting flights. This was my first time being to JFK International Airport and it wasn’t a favorable experience – from running through terminals, machines not working and rude workers. At the end of it all, we got placed on another flight to London (which was already boarding while we were in security). Similarly our flight from London to Geneva also got changed which resulted in an 8-hour layover in Heathrow Airport.
Despite all my troubles, British Airways made up for it and I got a seat in their “World Traveller Plus” section – wider seats, more legroom, reclining chair, headrest, foot rest, hot towel, sparkling water/wine (not sure if this was for everyone though) and a personal entertainment system with noise-cancelling headphones.
The return flight was even better minus a bit of turbulence, it seemed to be raining everywhere. Oh, we also got delayed leaving London so I got to NY around 12 a.m. and had to wait for the airport to reopen at 3:30 a.m. My flight was at 8:00 a.m. so i decided to just wait on the airport, not knowing there were no chairs around. Thus I did like everyone else and found a corner on the floor until opening time; when in rome right? P.S people were really laying and sleeping all over the floors. Thankfully they had free wifi so the time went by rather quickly as I watched Netflix. When I finally got to the departure lounge I slept for about an hour.
Usually I don’t go into work related details on my blog, but I’m thinking that should change. I learn quite a bit from these proceedings and who would I be if I didn’t share a thing or two? After all this is how we all learn. The meetings I attended in Geneva these last two weeks were the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm joint Conference of the Parties. The names listed are three individual conventions which relate to waste and chemical management. There are between 159 – 186 countries who are ‘parties’ signed onto the different conventions, thus there were around 1700 people in attendance, including observers.
The meeting themselves can be pretty intense as it’s basically representatives making decisions based on their countries stance on waste and chemicals. I’m not particularly versed on this topic so it was a learning experience for me. The topics discussed were an eye opener for many situations I never gave a thought to; i.e the movement of waste from one country to another, how they dispose of that waste and the harmful chemicals found in everyday substances we use. The theme for this year was “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals & Waste.” All I can say to you is to think about the stuff you’re buying and using, recycle what you can and dispose of what you can’t correctly. One of the main features during the meetings were plastic waste management.
Now for the fun stuff! – what I did, where I ate, things to note & alla that
What I did:
I walked a lot! lol. Geneva is a small city, if you head to the town area it’s easy to walk around and visit all the “must see” attractions. Some days I was rather lazy and would ride the bus for one/two blocks.
The sites listed below are a few of the areas I got to check out by chance and actually made an effort to while on break. Even though I was there for two weeks, most of my time was spent in meetings and I was too tired to do anything after.
A walk by the lake:
- Brunswick Monument
- Jet d’Eau ~ Geneva Water Fountain
- Lake Geneva
- Bains des Pâquis ~ Outdoor Bath
- L’Horloge Fleurie ~ Flower Clock
The International District:
- The United Nations office
- Broken chair
- Museum of ceramics
Let’s visit another city:
- Montreux – Chillon Castle
A highlight of the trip. On our day off a small group of us from the Caribbean region decided to take a visit to another city. We took a train ride which was a little over an hour then went to check out Chillon Castle. The surrounding landscape was beautiful and being in the castle itself was giving me Game of Thrones vibes. We explored the castle from top to bottom, walking through bedrooms, bathrooms, dining halls, the keep, the tower and any other room you can imagine.
- Balexert ~ Shopping Mall
*probably not your typical mall, the only two stores I knew of were H&M and Zara. However, in the city itself there are lots of high-end shopping stores, e.g. Gucci, Versace, Prada etc.
*Recommendation –St. Pierre’s Cathedral. Climb 157 steps to see a gorgeous view of the Geneva. (something i wanted to do, but didn’t get a chance)
Where I ate:
Geneva can probably be a foodie paradise for some. There were lots of options located in the city area from different regions around the world – Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, American, Italian etc. Only thing I’m sad about was the fact that I didn’t go to any chocolate cafes or have any gelato. Chocolate walking tours are highly recommended.
- Lebanese – saffron rice & lamb
- Chinese – sauteed rice noodles and beef
- American – KFC, Subway, Mcdonalds, Burger King
- Funky Monkey Room – specialty burgers (I was basic and had chicken)
- Indian – Naan, butter chicken, basmati rice
- Italian – Hawaiian pizza, pasta with prawns, salmon & rice (this restaurant was next to the meeting venue)
*The Indian was my favourite meal, despite me being skeptical about it. How is it i never tried naan before?! Close second is the chinese dish. I also didn’t try any traditional swiss foods; they had finger food at the meeting’s opening reception but everything looked questionable to me.
Things to note:
- Everyone smokes! Okay, maybe not everyone but cigarette smoke fills the air. From leaving the train station to walking around downtown so many smokers. They actually have specific bins for cigarette butts.
- The public transport systems is very reliable and clean. Every stop has a bus schedule for the week, while most have a digital totem with real time display of the next bus and a machine to buy tickets.
- Your best bet is staying close to the public transport station. I was literally across the road from Gare Cornavin; I could catch the train to the airport and bus to the meeting venue, which was less than 15 minutes for each. There’s a good amount of signage, so you can’t get lost. Your hotel will also give you a free public transportation pass that can be used for buses, trams, water taxis and trains within Geneva.
- Their main language is French but most speak english as well. I downloaded duolingo a month ago to learn a few basic things (I didn’t actually have to use them, but i could understand what was being said).
- They use swiss francs (CHF) but a few places may accept Euros. There’s a money exchange center almost on every street, some hotels may even do it but the rate won’t be the same.
- Shops/malls close by 7:30 p.m.; 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays (crazy) and closed on Sundays. They go later on Thursdays (9:00 p.m.) but still a weird schedule compared to the U.S.
*phew* I know the post may have seemed a bit lengthy but it was a long trip! Switzerland on a whole was pretty cool; different scenery and weather from the Caribbean. I enjoyed my time and like any other country wouldn’t mind revisiting to explore more.
That’s all for now folks!