After a strenuous three day week, this past Thursday and Friday we took a field study trip to Geneva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva). I spent the vast majority of my time trapped in meetings at the United Nations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNOG). Most were interesting, however, the representative from the human rights commission was extraordinarily condescending and her presentation seemed to be geared toward local fifth graders than college upperclassmen well versed in international relations subjects.
Free time was limited on such a short trip. On Thursday night, the program took all the students to a traditional Swiss fondue. I've never been a huge fan of fondue, but this was definitely done correctly. It was incredibly rich, but it was paired with very good wine, so it balanced out nicely. We ended up having our bus driver at our table, and he turned out to be a really interesting man. He usually drives musicians around; his first client was actually Dizzie Gillespie. He also served as the impartial arbiter of the mandatory punishment for dropping one's bread in the fondue, which ended up being very important indeed.
By day, free time was even more limited, but we did get two hours before we had to leave to explore a little bit very quickly. Unfortunately the duration of the trip necessitated that I had to pay for food in Switzerland. Geneva is even more highly priced than the rest of the country, from what we were told. Switzerland again did not disappoint, as I got to have by far the most expensive lemon chicken I will ever eat in my life at 40 francs. I really liked Geneva, despite its extraordinary cost of living, and I definitely would have preferred having more than two hours to see the sights.
Today, a few friends and I returned to Staufen, which you might remember as the small town involved in the hike. We received some moderate snowfall over the past few days, so we went hiking to many of the same areas, including the castle above the city, in the snow, which gave it all a much different perspective. We also ran into some shepherd's shrines up in the Black Forest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Forest), which were interesting to see.
It will probably be a while before my next update, because I will be incredibly busy traveling before I get a break to fill you guys in. Next Friday to Sunday, I will be in northern Italy visiting Milan and Turin. We get back late Sunday night, and then Monday morning we depart on our Western European field study trip, with visits to Brussels, Luxembourg, and Paris. Unless I bring my computer with me, which I believe is unlikely, there might not be another update until March 2 or 3.
Here are some scenes from Geneva for now though:
The United Nations always manages to get really nice land for their buildings. Their complex in Geneva, as you can see, was no exception.
The UN buildings in Geneva are a little less imposing than their huge complex in New York, but the Palais des Nationes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palais_des_Nations) does the job nicely.
Geneva as a city definitely revolves around its waterfront lake. The fountain you see in the center is one if the city's landmarks, a huge geyser, the Jet d'Eau (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_d%27eau), shooting right out the center of Lake Geneva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Geneva).
Another view of a small corner of Lake Geneva. This was taken from a bridge featured somewhat prominently in Under Western Eyes, a novel of Joseph Conrad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_Western_Eyes).
A partial view of Geneva's skyline as taken from the top of their cathedral
The Swiss give their UPS drivers Mercedes-Benz to drive. What think you of that?
The flower clock in the English Gardens. The clock changes frequently in its design. This one was strange because of the irregular positioning of the numbers - the four is way in the corner of the picture, while the 1 is almost in the center of the clock.
Just a rather nice Geneva streetscape.