Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend wanderings in Geneva

This is a blog, but it's also partly my diary, that I'll look back through to remember what we did in Geneva.  So, without further ado or apologies, here's what we did his weekend.

Friday night there was a potluck for families in Peter's class.  I really like his teacher, she's very engaging and always has a smile on her face.  Plus, she does stuff like this.  There was a fair bit of awkward standing around, trying to figure out who to approach, but it all worked out okay, and we met a few new people, and Peter got an invite to a birthday party.  The teacher had the kids sit down together for a photo.

Peter is the one facing the wrong direction

Saturday morning we checked out a thrift store.  I'm a thrift store fan back in the US (the Mercer Island Thrift Store was my favorite), and so I've wanted to see what they're like in Geneva, too.  I found an article another expat wrote up about thrift stores here, and realized that one of her favorites is within walking distance - the Armee du Salut on Route du Chene.  It was kind of interesting.  I was thinking that the kids might find something to buy here - and Kenny actually did find a toy fire truck that he wanted to buy, but we actually told him he couldn't, it was just such a bad value (10 Swiss francs).  He was VERY disappointed to not have gotten anything, though I know the truck wouldn't have held his attention.  It was just the thought of buying something.  

We hadn't made any particular plans for the day, so I decided we should go look at the Art and Science Museum.  It's one of the many free museums here.  There was a friendly volunteer there who cornered us as soon as we came in, and told us we head down the hall on the left, that's where all the guns and swords were.  Obviously he knows little boys!  We had an enjoyable time there, especially considering that all the displays were only in French.  

A set of medieval extension ladders, that were used for scaling city walls
On our way to Old Town, we passed by an elevator to a parking garage.  But the problem is, you can't excavate for a parking garage in a place like Geneva without hitting something old.  And so we have here a combination parking garage/archaeological site of Saint Antoine.  What they were excavating is the old fortifications of Geneva, that you can see in the map below.  The city was was surrounded by massive defensive walls up until the mid 1800's.

The kids in front of the fortifications

The stonework looked very hastily done.  I guess it didn't need to be pretty, just strong.

We continued on our way to the Archaeological Site of St Peter's Cathedral.  We'd seen this before and were about to go in, when we realized that it wasn't free, so we decided to give it miss.  Ever since then, Kenny has been asking to go there.  So, we went.  And - it was great!  There's a HUGE complex of excavations underneath the cathedral, and extending far beyond it.  The excavations range from a tomb from right around 200 AD to the late medieval period.  And the whole area is covered with these neat catwalks, that actually lead you OVER dug out areas.   There's some Roman era wells that were dug out, cathedrals built on top of other cathedrals. There's lots of little dead-ends overlooking various parts of the excavation, and staircases leading down into little cellars where they found something special.  It would be an awesome (but scary) place to play hide and seek.

Whew...lots of archaeology today! We had dinner at Chez Ma Cousine - a restaurant in Old Town that we went to the first few days we were here.  It's one of the few reasonably priced places here, and has a menu of...chicken.  Roast chicken and roast potatoes.  I tried branching out once to the thai style chicken salad, but that was a big mistake.  Now I just always get the standard chicken.  Fast and friendly, and they don't mind bringing you tap water to drink, as I've heard some places do.

I had told Kenny how glad I was that he pushed us to go back to the St. Peter's Cathedral Archaeological site, even after I originally thought it wasn't going to be worth the entrance fee, because we ended up liking it so much. During dinner that topic kept on coming up, as in, "Mom, aren't you glad that I pushed us to go to the archaeology site even after you thought it wouldn't be worth it?"  It was cute.

Sunday the plan was to do a big grocery run to one of the grocery stores across the border in France.  We'd reserved a Mobility car (short term car rental) for the occasion.  Normally all stores, even in France, are completely closed on Sunday.  But apparently, the Carrefour was open from 9 to 12:30.  At least, that's what their website said, but when we actually went there, it turned out they were closed!  I was SO pissed off.

On the plus side, we had gone by another grocery store on the way that looked open.  We stopped in - it was not that large, perhaps two thirds the size of a normal grocery store in the US.  But of course it's much larger than the stores that we can walk to, so we stocked up on things. We'll probably end up going there frequently.

In the afternoon we took the scooters across the lake with the ferry again, another very rough ride because of the wind.  This time instead of going up the lake, we went down to the Jetée des Pàquis, a little peninsula jutting into the lake.  It was so cold out there in the wind that my cheeks felt like they were burning.  We didn't stay long!  But long enough to see some people...completely naked...jumping into the water!  Apparently there's a sauna there, so they were cooling down.  The rest of the afternoon we stayed in, I napped and the kids watched cartoons.  Hey, it was in French...educational, right?

No comments: