15 January 2010

Genève - it's French for 'closed'

Francophone Switzerland, I have to report, trails its Germanic neighbour in a number of important areas, the most striking of which is the apparent inability of the Genevois authorities to clear snow from streets and footpaths; a near second would have to be the overwhelming lack of open museums. Our few days in Geneva left us with little impression of the city as almost all the things I'd planned on visiting were closed: there was the Patek Phillipe watch museum, which is closed for a month at the moment; the UN complex, which is almost always closed, so that's less surprising; the International Committee of the Red Cross museum ('one of the best museums in Europe' according to the guidebook), which, according to the plaque on the front door, is 'open every day' ... except, as it turns out, Tuesdays (clearly the concept of 'every day' has a somewhat different meaning in Geneva). So, there is actually very little to report from a Geneca sojourn, other than we were just a little bit relieved to be heading back to Zurich and the heart of Germaic Switzerland.

One aspect of Geneva that does deserve a special mention in dispatches was the hotel. 'Hotel Kipling' is, as the name suggests, a hotel built on a 'Rudyard Kipling' concept. The means that all the halls and rooms are decked out with photographs from the Kipling family album (including some lovely snaps of Kipling as sahib with a retinue of native servants) and a breakfast served based on a 'glory days of the Raj' theme - kedgeree and chutney as far as the eye can see. The reception even featured a little pot burning Indian incense, so stepping into the lobby was a little like stepping into British India circa 1930. Quite fantastic, really.

And now, some photographs of the many things that were closed in Geneva during our stay.

1. A frozen plant behind the closed Patek Phillipe Museum.

2. The United Nations complex featuring, in the foreground, some of the muddy slush which found such an accepting home in the streets of Geneva.

3. A frozen Ghandi near the closed Red Cross Museum. If you squint, the snow almost looks like salt, a fitting tribute to the man whose Great Salt March revolutionised non-violent protest.

4. Over in their very own Quartier Américaine, 'Restaurant' McDonalds and Starbucks (in the background) were beacons of open trading in the city. God bless America.

No comments: