Sunday, 26 May 2013

Big Hair, Big Science & Emily Explore Geneva

Although Geneva will be my home for 2 ½ months, the first week here I was 100% a bona fide tourist. I think that’s something you must do when visiting a new place, get all the touristy sites out of the way at the beginning so that you can pretend to be a know-it-all local for the weeks to follow. I was also lucky enough to have a long weekend the week after I began my internship, and a good friend visited from Croatia (who will from here on forward be referred to as “Big Hair, Big Science”, a descriptive moniker). Together, we hit up enough of the Geneva’s main tourist attractions, and took enough pictures (over 800 between the two of us) to make a children’s story:

“Big Hair, Big Science & Emily Explore Geneva”

On a warm spring day in Geneva, a young adult named Emily waited excitedly on the terrace of her apartment for a friend to visit from Croatia. As a taxi pulled up, she squealed with excitement, and out came Big Hair, Big Science (first spotted by her hair). Their big embrace marked the beginning of a four-day long journey, filled with excitement, disappointment and giggles.

The first evening was spent exploring the Geneva waterfront. Walking from the train station to the waterfront, the friends noticed that Geneva upholds the two main Swiss stereotypes – Swiss chocolate and Swiss watches – as the streets were lined with watch shops and chocolate shops. How delicious, and prompt! 
As they neared the waterfront, the first site was spotted – Geneva’s famous Jet d’Eau. Descriptively named, the Jet d’Eau is a big fountain that shoots out of Lac Leman (or Lake Geneva as it is known to foreigners). Oh the excitement over a stream of water!

 Next Geneva’s other famous and not overly exciting site was spotted, Horlage Florale, or the Floral Clock. The friends realized the Swiss greatly enjoy descriptive names for their tourist attractions. Hooray for Swiss watches (and for the random man who got in the picture).

The next day, the friends had a tightly scheduled day. First a trip to the Palais des Nations, the UN headquarters, for a tour at noon, and then on to the Old Town to explore and visit the Patek Phillipe watch museum, concluding with a dinner at La Plancha, a nice restaurant in the middle of the eatery district. But when the friends arrived at the Palais des Nations, they were greatly disappointed. Despite being twenty minutes early, the tour was already full! And their tightly packed schedule did not allow for waiting around for the next tour which happened two hours later. Instead, the friends spent some time taking pictures of the UN from the outside, and of the symbolic Broken Chair located outside the UN. Would Big Hair, Big Science have the chance to tour the UN in the two short days she would be in Geneva? Only well-scheduled time would tell.

After spending a considerable amount of time exploring the beautiful old town, a very silly Emily was freezing because it was raining and much too cold for a dress, so the friends had to make the tough decision to skip the watch museum and head home to get changed, before heading back into town for dinner. But not before taking some fun pictures of the famous Reformation Wall!
Dinner that night was perfect, the food was delicious, and Emily was finally warm. The friends also decided upon a schedule for the next day that would allow them to still visit the Palais des Nations, see Big Hair, Big Science’s number one attraction, CERN, and go to the Musee d’histoire des sciences for the Nuit des Mussees that was happening in Geneva that weekend.

The next morning the girls awoke early to make it to the Palais des Nations for 10am, to ensure a spot on the 10:30 tour. The tour was quite worth it, as the friends learned about the symbolism of the artwork and architecture of the Palais, and had a sneak peak into some of the impressive meeting rooms. The tour also made Emily feel like a baller, because her WHO badge got her in as a “staff” for free! Three cheers for interning!

 The end of the UN tour marked the beginning of the best few hours of Big Hair, Big Science’s life. A visit to CERN. The excitement could not be contained within her big hair (and actually caused a headache later in the day once the excitement had subsided). Just check out this smile:

And this one:

And this one:

After a few magical hours at CERN, the friends went back to Emily’s apartment for dinner and to relax a bit (ahem, allow Big Hair, Big Science to cope with her excitement), and then headed out to the Musee d’histoire des sciences. But first, an unexpected stop on the way! The girls stumbled upon Les conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Geneva’s botanical gardens! Here they discovered a large beautiful park, with so much waterfowl (including flamingos and a black swan) that it was Emily’s turn to be overly excited.

When they arrived at the Musee d’histoire des sciences after their short detour, the girls found out it was a 10chf admission fee, but that Sunday was free (so naturally they decided to go back on Sunday). Instead they admired the Pearle du Lac park, and took some romantic pictures during sunset.

The next morning they visited the Musee d’histoire des sciences. What an interesting old building it was, with some pretty nifty artefacts.

And with the end of their morning in Geneva, it was time for the friends to part. A quick goodbye, and Big Hair, Big Science was back on the train to the Geneva Airport, and Emily was back on a train to her apartment in the suburbs. The wonderful weekend of laughter, excitement and friends was over and had left the girls with heartwarming memories, and 800 photographs. A true success.

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