Playing the tourist

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Things have been busy over the past week, and with pretty much all awesome things. Yes, I’ve been looking for houses to rent, but there’s also a lot of downtime (between going to the park and napping, of course). X and I are taking the opportunity to explore our new home, checking out new neighbourhoods and making discoveries. Z joins us when he can too, of course. As we explore areas, we’re also discovering more about the pace of life here. Obviously it’s different for me at home with the baby rather than Z at work, but we’re both seeing how life here is a little less strenuous. Things move a little more gently and time seems softened, maybe by the fantastic weather we’re enjoying. For example, we met for lunch on Friday. I thought we might grab some sandwiches at a mall. That would have been the extent of our lunches back in Calgary, when Z was working. But instead we settled in and split a bottle of wine. As I wandered the flower-strewn streets home with a red wine buzz, all I could think is pretty much life is fantastic.

One thing that’s alternatively wonderful and frustrating is how everything shuts down on Sundays. I’m now prepared to not be able to shop for groceries (although there’s always SOMETHING open if you’re having an emergency), but it’s more the enforced downtime we’re having to deal with. After the past year we’ve had, downtime seemed like something out of a fairytale. Any time off of work meant trips to the hardware store, or dealing with contractors, or painting ceilings. If it wasn’t renovation stuff, then there would always be other errands to run. Here, there’s just … nothing. Today’s a little grey, otherwise I think we’d go to the park for a picnic.

But over the past week we’ve had lots of fun adventures and got to know Geneva a little bit better. Some highlights included wandering through the antique shops in Carouge, the artsy, bohemian neighbourhood. There’s a market there on Saturday mornings, we swear we’re going to try to get out of bed for that next week.

We’ve had some time to explore La Vieille Ville, the Old Town. It really is the heart of an ancient city, including millions of churches, twisting back alleys and an archeological site that goes back to the fourth century. So, cool. Also very cool, if you are a book nerd like me, is the amount of ancient book stores there are. I’ve included this more for my sister, a librarian who loves all things really really old.

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La Vieille Ville is where you find the famous Cathedrale St.-Pierre (located above the archeological site). We went to check it out this week. X spent a good amount of time admiring the architecture, a really weird mishmash of Renaissance and Gothic, which on this scale can be nothing but incredible.

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Inside was just as grand, although you can really see the effects of stripped-down Protestant values here. A Catholic church of a similar age would likely be as gilded and decorated as a medieval birthday cake. Here, in the heart of Calvinist reformation, we like our walls to be bare but are so massive and majestic you get an emotional reaction.

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We got to climb the bell tower (and a big thank you to the guy who let us go up even though we didn’t have any francs on us!). I found the staircase to be disconcertingly steep as we got near the top, especially since Z was carrying X in his arms. Seriously, the railing went straight up and down. But the views made it entirely worth it – absolutely spectacular.

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This is our new city. I still can’t believe it sometimes.

Other things that have been interesting finds here is the totally random midway set up at the Plainpalais, a central square near where Z works. It didn’t seem to be related to anything, just … an old-school midway, with the fun houses, rickety rides that fling you around and bored looking carnies not trying that hard to entice you to throw your money away on a rigged game for a stuffed animal. It was pretty cool.

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Maybe our favourite find was a new restaurant, devoted to all things chicken, called “Chez ma cousine.” Before leaving for Switzerland, Z and I became a little bizarrely obsessed with Swiss Chalet, and wondered if there was any relation to our new country. And yesterday, we found potentially the inspiration for that amazing dipping sauce. Chez ma cousine’s specialty, which everyone gets, is a half roasted chicken with house roasted potatoes and a special dipping sauce. Just like Swiss Chalet … only better. Oh my goodness, and you can take out. We are set forever over here.

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X’s favourite thing to do is not eat chicken, though. His favourite thing of all so far has been to ride the carousel, located at the centre of the downtown shopping district. He takes the responsibility of driving these vehicles, whether it’s an airplane or an old-fashioned fire truck, with abject seriousness. There is no messing around. He’s not playing. This is for real and he has to get it right. And it’s absolutely adorable.

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That’s been the past week here. Yes, it still blows my mind that we live in a place like this.

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