If one city on the planet could say that it fits the whole world in its hand then surely that city would be Geneva. Laid out along the shores of the utterly gorgeous Lake Geneva; Europe’s largest Alpine lake, Geneva is about as International as it gets. In Geneva you’ll hear words uttered in just about every language there is and 40% of the people of Geneva are not from Switzerland. It is a city of bankers, diplomats and transients and it belongs not so much to Switzerland but in fact the world. This is evidenced by the presence of over 200 top governmental and non-governmental international organizations like the UN, WHO, ILO and the International Red Cross. But the thing about Geneva that makes it special in my mind is that it’s a wonderful place to be and it has a feel of a place that you could actually live in.
Geneva is actually voted the top or one of the top places in the world to live and has a very high quality of life. The place is also stunning with great alpine scenery and Lake Geneva is just awesome. In the main harbor of Lake Geneva, there is a geyser-like fountain that shoots water up some 200 feet in the air. As you can see in the picture, it is a real thing of beauty and very picturesque.
The city itself is different than many others I have seen in Switzerland and this was in fact my first time in Geneva and French Switzerland. Geneva didn’t have the German gingerbread type houses that you’d see in the center and north of the country and it didn’t have the Italian influenced chicness of the east and south. It was just a pleasant place to be and a nice place to walk around. My only real complaint would be that the prices were ridiculously high but it is Switzerland after all-a Starbucks cost $8 (not that I actually got one but I’m just saying).
The United Nations has its second home in Geneva as I mentioned before which is in the northern part of the city about a mile or so from the main train station. Its European headquarters has a much more impressive façade than the ugly monstrosity that lives on First Avenue in New York City. The UN is flanked by a huge broken chair right outside its main gate which is supposed to symbolize unity in fighting to rid the world of rogue landmines that take many lives each year, even to this day shockingly. It is also flanked by a large outdoor fountain park area where kids from the city go and play. Imagine seeing that in New York in front of the other UN headquarters…no shot.
What else can I say about Geneva except that I wish I could spend more time there. Even on the train ride out of town to Milan we rode the entire circumference of Lake Geneva which gave incredible lake views with stunning mountain backdrops for over an hour. The fitting end to a great place.