Final Day – Nations Unies

Our final day in Geneva we wanted to catch a train to Montreux…but we still hadn’t done the United Nations tour, and that was, after all, one of the main reasons we came to Geneva! (For anyone who doesn’t know, Paige is majoring in International Affairs and French, and taking a class in human rights violations next semester, so this was something she really wanted to do.) Also, the nasty little bug she picked up was really wearing her down, so we decided to do the U.N. tour, walk around town a bit, and then retire early and get packed and ready for our early start the next day. 




We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and learned so much. We learned about the history of The Palais des Nations. It was built after World War I to serve as the headquarters for the League of Nations. The grounds are quite lovely. It’s located in Ariana Park, which was bequeathed to the city of Geneva in 1890 by a man named Gustave de Revilliod de la Rive, on the conditions that the park always be open to the public and that he be buried there. Geneva honored his conditions. His grave is grave is there, and we saw (and heard) several peacocks strolling by. 

We had the opportunity to walk through a couple of the assembly and conference halls, and were even able to observe a conference on human rights, poverty and access to seeds (I think?) 
We learned about the sculptures in the park, as well. The central piece is the Celestial Sphere, which was donated by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. (President Woodrow Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919 for his efforts to promote and establish the League of Nations.) The Celestial Sphere gilt has eroded and it no longer turns, but it’s still quite impressive. 


Behind Celestial Sphere is Rebirth, three circles of 193 stones representing the 193 member states of the United Nations. The design is supposed to represent the infinity sign, and the three circles represent the worlds of nature, technology, and a world where people can work together to promote peace, bridge differences, find sustainable development and create dialogue. 

There are other sculptures throughout the park, including one dedicated to the conquerors of space and one for Ghandi, which was a gift from the Indian government. And of course, there’s the famous Broken Chair.


The tour was fascinating, inspiring and heartening. It is a bit embarrassing though, as an American, to hear that we still do not have an Ambassador in Geneva. Or Paris…Brussels…well, basically anywhere, really. One would hope, after several months in his new job, that our president would have realized the importance of diplomacy and of the State Department and the United Nations. 

And the U.N. is important. The dialogue between the member states is critical. The work they do on human rights, sustainable development, disarmament, and gender equality are admirable. We’re so happy we did this tour. 

This Way to Annecy 

The other place Paige and I wanted to visit was Annecy. Because Annecy is only 35 kilometers south of Geneva, I had hoped we could just hop on a train to do a day trip, but alas, there are no trains to Annecy. Instead, we took a bus. Which, despite stopping in every single teeny tiny village and despite taking an hour and a half to travel 25 miles or so…was actually sort of fun. It was a comfortable bus, and we got to people watch, and catch glimpses of everyday villages and towns and see cows and countryside and mountains. As Paige said, “It didn’t suck.”  


Gruyère and Ementhaler on the hoof (So to speak) 




When we arrived in Annecy, we walked to The Vieille Ville (old town) and found a market going on. It was packed! I was so jealous that I couldn’t shop and bring all that gorgeousness home with me!



Annecy is nicknamed the Venice of the Alps because of the many canals and bridges. 



The water in Annecy (from Lake Annecy) is an almost uncanny, otherworldly turquoise color…but crystal clear. It is known as Europe’s cleanest lake. It’s amazing. (Fun fact: Paul Cezanne painted several watercolors of Lake Annecy.) 





Annecy is vibrant and fun, filled with history, but with a youthful (and touristy) vibe. We loved our day there and only wish we’d had more time to explore! 

Eau Potable

One of our favorite things about Geneva (and Annecy and Yvoire) was the plethora of water fountains, most quite ornate and often surrounded with delightful flowers, and usually with a placard stating “potable water.”  We took frequent advantage of those fountains, using them to refill our water bottles at every opportunity! The water was delicious – clear, cold, and tasty. This is definitely one thing we will miss!


Yvoire

One of the things Paige and I really wanted to do was visit Yvoire, a medieval village on the shores of Lac Léman. On Monday morning, we got up and bought tickets on the CGN ferry from Geneva to Yvoire. It was a relaxing boat ride, a gorgeous day with clear blue skies and spectacular views. 


On the way out of Geneva we had beautiful views of Château de Pregny aka Castle Rothschild and also of the Palais de Nations. 




Up close and personal with Jet d’eau! 


The views….and then coming into Yvoire! 




So, Yvoire. It’s old. Medieval. Those of you who know me know that I kinda get a little giddy over old stuff. Like, the older the better. Cobblestone streets? Old stone walls with moss? Old churches? It’s nirvana to me. So Yvoire was basically heaven. It wasn’t quite tourist season, so a lot of the little shops weren’t open yet. But that was okay because…it wasn’t quite tourist season and so hardly anyone was there! It was quiet. A few people were walking around. You could hear birds chirping. Cats were strolling around nonchalantly and sunning themselves. It was peaceful. 





Paige and I happily wandered, and explored. We shopped, and ate lunch. We loved the charming village of Yvoire. But…we still had the return boat ride to look forward to, and even more spectacular, breathtaking views…




The sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest medicine…

When we arrived in Geneva, Paige was coughing a bit and had a stuffy nose, but we thought it was just from being so tired and that she’d be fine after getting a good night’s sleep. 

We were wrong. Apparently, at some point, she’d picked up some sort of bug. And she was sick. And we were in Europe…raring to go! Before I continue with my tale of our Swiss adventure, let me mention that for the rest of our stay we began searching out pharmacies wherever we went, looking for medicines. The pharmacists were all extremely helpful- even when their English was not so great, we’d pantomime until we, mostly, probably, understood each other (between their poor English and our poor French, we mostly did okay!) We ended up amassing quite a collection of Swiss and French medications…and, they were okay…but I can assure you that Paige would’ve given her first born child for a bottle of NyQuil and a decent night’s sleep. Actually, by the end of the week, I would’ve too. 😳 (Sorry, Clay.) #desperateforsleep




Mom/Daughter Adventure ✈️

Paige was supposed to do an exchange with a French family this summer, but because of a lack of communication from the French family, we resolved that we would have our own mother/daughter adventure instead. After Paige returned home from Tallahassee, she spent several days running around filling out applications and interviewing and got a summer job…and when she found out she didn’t start until May 20th, we decided to hop on a plane!

When you are part of an airline family, you learn to be flexible and you learn to be spontaneous- this trip was certainly that! It was planned and executed in about 24 hours! After searching flights and hotels, we settled upon a destination, and off we went!





We had a pleasant flight with fabulous, attentive flight attendants. We arrived in Geneva, got an early check in at our lovely hotel, and promptly took a much needed nap! Once we woke up, we started walking towards Lac Léman and Jet d’eau.


It’s hard to tell in the photos, but the water is amazingly crystal clear. It’s absolutely beautiful. 

The first day was mostly just us stumbling around, jet lagged, but ooh-ing  and aah-ing over how pretty everything was, until we started fading and decided to grab a sandwich and a shower and collapse in our beds…

(Day one)

Lazy Days of Summer 

It’s officially summer vacation in the VK household!


After slogging through finals week, the kids have finished their semesters. Clay is happily leading paddleboard tours nearly every day and Paige will start her summer job in a couple of weeks. 


Since she has a bit of time before she starts her job, we thought we’d take off for a mom/daughter trip in a couple of days. But in the meantime, we’re all enjoying the slower pace of summer  😊.