Switzerland. The cliches abound – Toblerone bars, watches, cuckoo clocks, neutrality, and Nazi gold. I recall that film The Bourne Identity (2001) in which Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne tracks down a safety deposit box in Zurich, unearthing a black bag full of cash, passports, and a gun. I always wanted to open one of those and leave a Freddo bar inside merely for my own subversive amusement.
The reality of a trip there was much different. A building – save the local Lidl – was not set foot in. Geneva was a cracking sojourn; I’ve seldom wandered the streets of such a peacefully serene metropolis. There was no semblance of crime. In the United Kingdom we have a species called ‘Chavs’ – tracksuit-clad reprobates without a talent for public silence or the ability to spell. No such creatures reside in Geneva. This is impressive. So, too, is the free transport. Is this what a rich country consistently hitting top spot on the HDI guarantees? I contrast this with Budapest, where one is confronted by revolting ticket inspectors upon every metro visit. In Geneva there’s not a mutant in sight.
I loved the gargantuan public ejaculation that is the Jet d’Eau fountain. I have no idea why it’s there or how it works, but it is verily amusing, a Wagnerian anomaly amidst the adjacent cafes and kiosks, The climate, too, was conducive to thoughts of grandeur. I sat on a bench by the shore reading A.J.P. Taylor’s The Origins of the Second World War whilst guzzling on Cointreau, a posse of ducks getting involved for remnants of my Lidl-purchased tuna chunks. I considered this productive, for thoughts of conquest swirled around me.
The bars were a triumph, pricey but, dare I say it, gnarly. There’s a repetitive theme, and it’s an addictive dogmatic naturalness of the leisurely – pints are poured like they’re milk, no one is screaming, shouting is non existent, drunkards play chess instead of brawling.
N.B. I neglected to visit the watch museum. This is mainly because I have no interest in watches, or the history of watches, or a museum dedicated to watches. If one day I become a zealous watch obsessive, I shall venture in there. But no, I cannot envisage this outcome.
In summation, Geneva is a belter of a trip. And I’m going back in the summer. I miss that booze-and-book bench already.