Exploring Geneva: tomato parties and alpenhorns

It’s been three months and I still can’t believe I get to live in a beautiful, European city, a destination for many and a truly international location. I have been noticing we’re getting more comfortable in our adopted city, and are behaving less like tourists and more like locals. We attend local festivals, we go to the cheap supermarkets, we are starting to figure out where the freshest food is located (still around the corner at the local farm – Marche de la ferme, Veyrier).

I thought I’d start sharing with you some of our interesting finds in Geneva, in terms of restaurants, shops and events, as well as some of our travels that are taking us around Europe. For a starters, this past weekend we went to the fete de la tomate, which translates to The Tomato Party.

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Our day started as we went about our usual Saturday business, which means heading into Carouge for the farmer’s market to get our weekly supply of cheese and meats. Afterwards, before heading to the festival, we had lunch at a beautiful wine bar we’d had our eye on for awhile – qu’importe: bar a vins. It’s in the Carouge neighbourhood and has a lovely patio that always makes us want to sit there and waste a few hours in the summer sun. What attracted us in particular on this afternoon was the nearly entirely empty restaurant inside – ideal for a toddler who’s gonna run around. Yes, I’m sure the staff was thrilled to have a baby making their stunning main level his playground for an hour, but I didn’t care. The issue with going out in Geneva is that when there’s a baby with you, it’s usually much nicer to just not. When we do go somewhere, it’s usually stressful and rushed, and Z and I don’t get to eat together because we take turns chasing after X. Somehow, this worked out perfectly.

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How gorgeous is this place? I adore the floors. All the detailing is really well done here. And romantic. Qu’importe has a wine cellar vibe, even when the bright sunshine is only a step away. This is on our list of places we’d like to visit without a roaming toddler (this list is getting out of control – it just gets longer and longer, and our opportunity to go anywhere is limited, to say the least!)

Afterwards, it was on to the Tomato Party. This was the most random festival. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Tomatoes, sure, but to do what. Will they throw tomatoes at you? Why are we celebrating the tomato, besides the obvious fact that they are delicious?

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The whole thing was kind of crazy. There were midway rides for kids, an inflatable tomato, a lumberjack demonstration (?? connection to tomatoes tenuous at best), and lots of booths selling tomato-related products. And then an enormous farmer’s market under a tent, as well as a huge beer gardens. We were kind of kicking ourselves because we could have totally eaten there for a great deal less money (but secretly I wasn’t kicking myself because I got to have a quasi-relaxed meal at a beautiful restaurant).

One thing that I adore about being in Europe is when I compare a festival like this to how it would be back home. Back home, you would pay to enter the festival (leading to anger-inducing lines). Then, you would have to pay separately to get into the beer gardens, which is intensely policed by roided-up bouncers who think they are gods for the day and will do everything in their power to ensure not one drop of liquor passes over the barbed wire fence that separates the drinkers from the non-drinkers. As parents of a toddler, we would be left out of the proceedings entirely.

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Here in Europe, it’s all just a big love fest. You can walk in at any access point, because you don’t have to pay to go to a festival where the whole point is to buy things. Everyone can go into the beer gardens, and as far as I know, NO CHILDREN DIED. In fact, you can take your glass of wine or beer and wander with it, enjoying a refreshing alcoholic beverage as you peruse the stalls. This is true of everywhere in Geneva. I especially like the bar set up in one of my favourite parks. Z and I will sometimes meet for lunch or after his work there, grab a drink and let X play while we unwind. It’s just all so … civilized here. And despite all this open boozing, there are WAAAAY less drunken people on the streets. Go figure.

I’ll end this blog on a high note, my favourite moment of the weekend. You know you’re in Switzerland when …

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… the alpenhorn is the genuine entertainment! I love it so much here!

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