26 April 2009

6 Trains + A Long Walk in Geneva

Bruxelles (Brussels)
Genève (Geneva)

These are the cities we've walked through in the course of eleven hours, just to get to Switzerland. The itinerary goes something like this:

1. First LB + I took the tram from the second--read: shitty--hostel we stayed at to Rembrandt Plein. Problem was, the 14 tram had to make a detour around Rembrandt Plein. The 20-minute ride to nowhere now took 40 minutes as the streets erupted with tourists, arriving in droves for the Fair. After we got off, we jumped on another tram headed towards Centraal. We had almost an hour to kill. Evidently, we overplanned.

2. From Amsterdam we took a train that was supposed to be the Thalys but wasn't, from Amsterdam to Bruxelles (Brussels).

3. From Bruxelles we took the TGV to Lille, France, where we had 15 minutes to change from the Lille Europe to the Lille Flandres station. If I hadn't started chatting with this really friendly French guy who happened to be making the same connecting train, we would have walked inside this gigantic mall, filled with horny teenagers instead, and totally missed our train.

4. From Lille, France, we took another TGV to Paris' Gare du Nord station.

5. Once we arrived at Gare du Nord, we had a little less than an hour to take the RER train from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Fortunately, they were a mere two stations apart.

6. From Gare de Lyon, we traveled by train from Paris to Genève, Switzerland in around four hours.

Along the way, I mistakenly ordered two heavy plates of assorted French cheeses + chocolate mousse, thinking they were part of the free food + beverage that Eurail pass holders sitting in first class get for paying a supplément. Wrong. 31 Euros later, after failing to explain my way out of something I would never have ordered in my right mind if I'd had to actually pay for it (one plate of cheese was enough to kill you, frankly), I took it like a man. . . and then apologized profusely to LB for wasting our money. Later on, we checked the Eurail Pass booklet, and the train from Paris to Geneva is the only train of ours that does not come with a free meal + drink. Right then. . .

In Geneva, we've walked around for several days now, slowly exploring the split personality of the city. At first, we found the Northern part to be insipid, empty, too new to have real personality. It was largely unimpressive--UN buildings + all. I mean, I mistook the UNHCR for a gas station for Christ's sake. But, after we took the trolley to Corvin Station, and crossed the bridge to the southern part of the city, then the real beauty of Genève began unfolding before our eyes. The older the buildings were, the prettier the city became.

The Fair in Amsterdam
People Lining up for Some Sugar Variant
We Left Amsterdam at the Right Time
The TGV from Bruxelles to Lille
Small Belgian Towns
Belgian Countryside
LB, Resting Her Chin on Dutch Mineral Water
The TGV from Lille to Paris
French Countryside
French Countryside 2
One of the Cheese Bricks I Got Scammed into Buying
Swiss Francs Might Very Well Be the Most Colorful Money in the Whole Wide World
In Genève (Geneva)
Boo! Hiss!
Translation: A Superdog, That's a Superowner. In Case You're Wondering, These Are Doggie Bags
A Map of Cultural Events in Geneva
I Honestly Thought the UN High Commisioner for Refugees Was a Gas Station
At the Place des Nations Unies
I Know the Symbolism is Important, but for the Life of Me, I Can't Figure out What It Is
Front View of the UN in Geneva
Front View 2
Third-World, Polyglot Professional Bureaucrats, Looking to Leave the Mother Land Permanently, Please Apply Here!
Taking the Tram away from Sadville
Basilique de Notre Dame (Not to be Confused with One of my Alma Maters)
I Loved This Little Van: It's a Safe-Sex + Health Information Van Where You Can Get Check-Ups, Free Condoms + Information Pamphlets about the Pituatary Gland
Street 1
Crossing the Bridge
Street 2
Street 3
Swiss License Plate
As LB + I Were Eating Some Leftover Food from Biomarkt in a Park, I Saw This Statue and Realized I Loved this Radical Georges Favon, Whoever he Was. Translation: No Progress without Social Justice
Street 4
Skate Park
A Farmer's Market
Farmer's Market 2
Farmer's Market 3
The 5 Swiss Franc Coin is Massive. I Felt Like I Was Holding a Goddamn Medallion in My Pocket
These Fountains of "Drinkable Water" Were Everywhere
Possibly One of the Strangest Things I've Seen in Years: If You're Confused as to What You're Looking at, You're Not the Only One. This Is an Old Woman Walking on a Crutch, with a Rabbit, a Live, Bunny Rabbit Scrambling up Her Back. Every Four to Five Steps, the Rabbit Would Fall Halway down Her Back, and Then Kick Its Feet Frantically Up Her Back Again to Get back on to Her Shoulder. LB + I Watched as a Genèvois Followed Along, Taking Pictures with her Cellphone
Street 4
Street 5
Street 6
Swiss Balconies
The Swiss Protestants
Street 7
A Café in the English Park
Chess Players
Rampe de la Treille
Street 8
Street 9
Street 10
Street 11
Street 12
Street 13
Then, We Saw the Snowy Peaks in the Background + Everything Changed
The View Up There
Public Fountains
Street 14
Street 15
Not That It's a Big Deal or Anything, but I Kinda Wondered If This Guy Knew His Name Had Been Placed underneath a Clock
Street 16
Fountain 2
Street 17
The Little Café Where We Drank Authentic Hot Chocolate + Ate a Mouelle au Chocolat (a Soft, Spongy, Chocolate Cake with Warm Chocolate Sauce Oozing from the Center)
Fountain 3
LB Walking Down the Hill
Street 18
The View from the Promenade
Hotel de la Paix
A Duck on Lake Geneva
The Jetée des Eaux Vives
Across the Lake
One of My Last Looks at Lake Geneva

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