All goes well with planning the Arona to Geneva trip with only one change of trains at Stresa. The wait is slightly over an hour so we take the opportunity to walk down to the lake. The day is clear and we can see the snow on the mountains ten or fifteen miles away. It’s a reminder that we’re still in spring and it can get chilly up there. It also initiates a look at the weather in Geneva it’s variable but not as cold as it was predicted a week ago but there’s a threat of rain. All’s well though, we packed waterproofs for Ireland. It seems longer than the two weeks since we landed in Belfast and we’ve covered a few miles since then but the waterproofs have certainly proved their worth. They were needed more for warmth in Ireland but very necessary for the extreme rain in Naples and Pompeii.
The connecting train is classed as international and I’m disappointed that it’s full and our seats are the type where you face each other over a table which means that anyone of normal height (me) has to tuck their legs under the seat area to avoid the embarrassment of playing footsie (or leggsie) under the table. Can be fun if you know the person opposite but not so good with a stranger.
The trip through the Alps is fabulous and surprises me with some flat areas and some terraced vineyards as well as the steep and often craggie slopes.
We’re met in Geneva by Rudina who takes us for a couple of beers at the Britannia. It’s great to catch up and invaluable when she shows us the rudiments of getting bus passes from the machine at the bus parade.
Rudina has kindly agreed to host us whilst we’re here although my stay has been shortened by an offer of tickets for the Costa Festival whilst C decides to continue the travels with a journey to Interlaken, a beautiful route referred to as the ‘Golden Ticket’.
Geneva is typically Swiss with busses that turn up on time and food that’s eyewateringly expensive. One of the Interrailing tips is if you’re planning a visit to Scandinavia and you think it’s expensive then you should replan it in Switzerland and you’ll immediately think it’s cheap.
Our evening consists of a fleeting visit to where we think the Old Town is (and some very expensive designer shops) then a return to the Britannia which has some pleasant food that’s affordable and Guinness – job done.
Lovely end to the day with a bus ride and we even get off at the right stop!
In the morning we open the blinds to a fabulous view of the Alps. Now I know what a picture window is.
My flight is not until 1850 so we spend the morning with an old colleague of Cecilia’s who is in charge of Support for the students at the International School. Coincidentally, it’s near the apartment and we’re there in five minutes.
Mike shows us around and explains the teaching languages are French and English but the student languages consist of 180 different ones. It’s a magical institution that rekindles my love of teaching. The students are enthusiastic and polite with a clearly excellent relationship with their teachers and especially Mike.
As we leave, the weather is turning so we return to the apartment. We’re discussing eating arrangements and we have a final stroke of luck in that C is reviewing some contacts on her phone and inadvertently dials Mike and he invites us to eat with him at the World Council of Churches which is next door to the school. It’s a delightful place that concentrates on what brings churches together rather than the opposite and it’s not all Christian. The Pope has had lunch here and preached in the chapel all wonderful information that brings the building to life. I’ve included some snaps.
Our final outing is a good walk to “The Broken Chair” A colossal sculpture of a wooden chair with one of the legs broken off that movingly symbolises the following:
AGAINST THE USE OF ARMED VIOLENCE ON CiVILIANS
Broken Chair is a symbol of both fragility and strength, precariousness and stability, brutality and dignity.
Originally conceived by Handicap International with the aim of urging nations to ban anti-personnel mines (in 1997) and cluster munitions (in 2008), Broken Chair is an ongoing symbol of the desperate cry of war-torn civilian populations.
Broken Chair is a reminder to the world’s nations to protect and aid our civilian victims.
It invites each one of us to denounce that which is unacceptable, to stand up for the rights of individuals and communities and call for their rightful compensation.
The fact that it’s sited in front of the United Nations should not go unnoticed.
We call back at the apartment for me to repack my trusty rucksack and both us make our way to our respective bus stops. Mine’s taking me to the airport and Cecilia into town. They’re on opposite sides of the same road and the number 5 into town is already at the stop so there’s no protracted goodbye a quick kiss and she’s gone and two minutes later so have I.
Thanks Cecilia, it’s been a wonderful adventure xx
Enjoy the snaps. G x