Today was a wonderful day with my own personal guide to show me around Geneva.
It begins with a natural move in bed, just changing position and my toe rubs the sheet, just a tiny rub you understand, barely a rub really, more like being caressed by a butterfly wing but the result was pain so excruciating that it really requires me to hurl myself out of bed and writhe about on the floor clutching my foot; however, I’ve been here before and I know it’s gout!
I need to move that sheet that’s ‘nearly’ touching my toe and it needs to be done ‘without’ touching my toe. No sudden jolts, and definitely no contact with anything, not even a butterfly wing. This is not a good opener for a long walk. I manage to extract myself very carefully from the bed without contact with anything whilst keeping a keen eye out for butterflies. Putting my left foot on the floor is done with Swiss clockwork precision and at the speed of an hour hand having a rest. I hobble to my toiletries bag for the colchicine. They’re tiny pills the size of a pin head that doctors prescribe reluctantly and only after giving dire warnings about possible side effects and where to present yourself if any of them make an appearance. I’m lucky in that they only make me feel crap after a couple of days and by then it’s usually under control. As I’ve got this very early in its manifestation there’s a bit of a chance I might have it in control (not cured but at least not getting worse) by lunchtime and just need to limp a lot through the afternoon. The ‘wise ones’ seem to be divided regarding whether to exercise with gout. On balance it would seem about 70% feel that it’s a good thing as it helps break down the crystals that have formed in the joint.
So I neck the colchicine and hope I’m on top of it for later.
Later arrives and Rudina (Frank’s lovely partner) comes into the room and I’m given a lift immediately by her smile. I explain the limp and she responds with some thoughts that will still enable most of her plans but massively aided by the amazing bus and tram service in Geneva. We might even see more.
First move is the important one and we go to eat. It’s not cheap to eat in Switzerland but this lovely place is reasonable and very friendly to boot. Rudina does most of the ordering in one of the multiple languages that she has and in this case French. I am used to at least doing a bit in Spain but French is a mystery to me but I do try with the odd oui and merci along with smiling and nodding a lot. It’s a great Thia salad that I’ll be trying at home.
The cuisine here is very much international as is the city. The United Nations, International Red Cross and Red Crescent, World Council of Churches, and more financial institutions than you can shake a gold-bullion-bar at together with many more huge international institutions are based here and all recruit from around the world. It makes it a vibrant and wonderfully interesting city.
So, fed and watered we head for the town centre and special surprise as we catch a trolley bus to there there’s a confluence of two rivers. Rudina’s kept it a secret so as I peer over the railings down at the two water flows, one from the mountains and one from the lake, it’s completely absorbing. The two flows maintain their respective currents for several hundred metres downstream. One is completely grey/white presumably from the chalky hills and the other is virtually clear but deep and so appears dark and forbidding. It’s fascinating and well worth the trip to see it. However, the surprise isn’t over yet as she takes us around a couple of blocks of beautiful apartments to a railway bridge that has a walkway attached. It’s about 30m (hundred feet) above the river and gives us an unimpeded view of both the physical flows of the two rivers and we can even see the eddies as the two environments start the process of mixing to become Le Rhône as it meanders its way to Lion then to the Mediterranean. Apparently, it’s over 800km long and discharges the largest proportion of fresh water and nutrients into the Med – now you know as much as me!
I’d urge you to make this little trip for its fascination value but also combine this with a warning that sometimes (I’m told) the tributary Le Arve is not as silty and the demarcation is not as visible as today.
Off we go back to the town centre and after a gout assessment, we’re off to the old town via the Russian Church. The trip is accomplished by bus but this time it’s a mini-bus and when we get into the Old Town streets we know why. It drops us at the Russian Church and whilst it’s not big, it really is impressive.
Cathédrale de l’Exaltation de la Sainte Croix, (Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – in English)
It has the onion domes which are the ‘trade mark’ of St Basil’s in Moscow but nowhere as big. They’re shining in the sun and are testament to the huge renovation that took place fifty or so years ago. It’s another great find and I’m not sure I would have seen it without my ‘guide’.
…but there’s more to see and we catch the little mini-bus again – bang on time and it wends its way through the narrow streets and up a hill to a cobbled area and the magnificent if plain St Peter’s Cathedral. Sometimes a building can be magnificent even when relatively plain and inside the main emphasis is the stained glass windows which cast multi-coloured sunbeams in the suspended dust in the still atmosphere of the huge nave.
It’s used regularly for music concerts and I can see why – magnificent.
The way back is via some cobbled back streets where we discover the building where the Red Cross was first established, now there’s a bonus.
More descent and we’re back in the main shopping area where busses and trams run regularly and the bonus is there is a pharmacy. I’ve been keeping an eye out for one to get Ibuprofen for the gout. When colchicine starts to poison me I need another anti-inflammatory to finish the job. I’m walking in the Lakes with the ‘boys’ next week so it needs to be right by then and in fairness it feels like it’s going in the right direction. Anyway, the pharmacist speaks excellent English and my request for generic Ibuprofen for gout results in a box of ten, they’re 400mg so double strength but you need to save up – In Britain, we’re talking about 60 or 70 pence, here they’re just under £10!
Rudina knows a special place on the banks of the Rhône where we can relax and order some drinks. The sun has been out for most of the afternoon so this will be welcome and within a few minutes we’re semi-stretched out on some chairs that encourage relaxation and the gently swirling Rhône is doing its bit to add to the city centre tranquillity, what’s not to like?
After an hour or so and well tranquillised by this little oasis we head out towards Rudina’s apartment to an Irish Bar (they get everywhere) where a couple of Guinness see the day to an appropriate end.
Thanks, Rudina. Magic!
Enjoy the snaps G x