Sunday, 16 February 2014

Overdosing on Cheese: Geneva, Switzerland

In July 2011 I had some surgery on my right ankle which effectively left me not able to walk for 3 months and resulted in most of the summer passing me by pretty uneventfully. During this time, I was also not allowed to fly due to my leg being in a plaster of paris cast and certain risks associated with that.  As soon as I was out of that cast, I was desperate to get away for a quick break. So in November 2011 Hamish and I did one of our typical European weekend breaks, this time, the destination was Geneva, Switzerland.

When we arrived I was expecting rolling green hills, emerald lakes, white capped mountains in the distance and general beautiful "Heidi" scenery {yodel-eh-hee-hooooo}, all of which I had seen on previous visits to other parts of Switzerland.  Geneva was however, at first sight, just another concrete urban city. I don't think it helped matters that we arrived relatively late on the Friday night and were staying in a dodgy central area.  I will admit, there were a few moments, when navigating the streets from the train station to the hotel where I thought we may be mugged and/or savagely attacked. Alas, the homeless, drug-taking, street people were far nicer than I gave them credit for and we made it to the hotel in one piece. With our luggage {go us!!}. 

We were lucky to make it to the hotel alive really. 
Now before I completely ruin Geneva's tourist appeal, when we woke up on Saturday morning and made our way out of the central area we were in towards the more touristy beautiful lakeside region, my mind was changed and I realised I had been wrong to judge the city on the previous night’s experience. The lakeside area was beautiful. It really was actually clear emerald water and there were honest to goodness white capped mountains in the distance. I honestly have never seen a body of water, in a city, as clear as that of Lake Geneva. You could literally see individual sand grains in the deep depths below

The clear water below my very white converse. 

Lake Geneva with the famous Jet D'Eau in the background 

We spent most of the weekend walking alongside the lake, taking the water taxis back and forth across the clear water, visiting the Phillip Patek watch museum and generally enjoying all things  Swiss....including of course the Swiss cheese. Anyone that has spent any time with me will know about my love of cheese. I use the term "love" loosely, it is more of an obsessive, all-consuming addiction. In light of this addiction it only seemed fair that we try out a local fondue restaurant. We did some research and found a place that came highly recommended and decided to give it a go. This was a great choice of ours as this restaurant was seriously off the beaten track and, as far as I could tell, there were no other tourists in sight.  I embraced the Swiss culture and only ordered cheese. A massive, extra-large cheese fondue to be exact.  For the first 20 minutes of cheesy bread consumption I was in heaven, but as the night wore on, I began to feel more and more ill. Not one to give up easily, I continued to plough on and managed to get through just about the entire fondue. This was a mistake, a BIG mistake. Fondue cheese is not a creamy, mild cheddar cheese, it is a rich Gruyere and Emmental concoction and I do believe they include alcohol too, so by the end of the night I was feeling pretty ill. This overdose in cheese resulted in a temporary cure of my cheese addiction, I think I steered clear of all cheeses for at least a week month after.  For anyone wanting to experiment in this type of cure, in order to be sure you have found an authentic and cheesy enough venue, you should walk 100m away from the building and close your eyes. If you can smell the cheese (and from personal experience, let me tell you this is in no way a good smell) then you have a winner - go in and indulge away your addiction, you have my permission.

This is the face of a cheese addict before the "cure" has become effective. 
 Fun facts about Geneva:

  • Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe
  • Geneva is the European headquarter of the United Nations
  • The biggest annual complaint of the residents of Geneva droppings. {Hmmm}
  • The Jet D'Eau is one of the largest fountains in the world, 500l of water are jetted 140m into the air and this can be seen from the air up to an altitude of 10km.
  • A pint of beer in Geneva costs GBP 4.35 * 

* Correct at time of publishing. 

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