Switzerland Love Affair: Summer Sojourn to Geneva
I am a lucky little lady. I say that because I have had the pleasure of living in one of the most picturesque lands, one that has been chiseled to perfection by natural forces, for three and a half years. Yes, I am talking about the ‘it’ holiday destination of Europe and probably the world – Switzerland. On our first ever sojourn through Swiss Alps, we will go on a whirlwind journey to Geneva and other glorious cities that have been hallmarks of beauty and charm since time immemorial.
The Swiss Affair
Popularly known as a dream destination, Switzerland or ‘La Suisse’ gained popularity in India after the king of Bollywood directors – Yash Chopra – introduced the idea of romance in the idyllic Swiss Alps. From the epic Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to Dil Toh Pagal Hai, India’s love affair blossomed through the 90s and is now closer knit than ever before.
Be it sunny summers or icy cold winters, thousands flock to the land of Lindt chocolates, Gruyere cheese and beautiful cuckoo clocks. But are famed attractions and pretty souvenirs the only mark of Switzerland?
The country, whose beauty is unparalleled with that of any other, has a lot more to offer as long as you are willing to go beyond the regular. So come with me as I take youon a unique adventure over the mountains, across the Suisse Riviera and give you a fresh look on what Switzerland is really about!
My first stopover – Geneva
This is a chic and cosmopolitan city better known as the centre of international relations but there is more to it than meets the eye. Think things that warm the heart – serene surroundings, blue azure lake waters and elegant shopping avenues – and you find them all here.
One of the most prominent landmarks in Geneva is Jet d’Eau’, a majestic fountain that stands tall at 140 metres in all its beauty on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). With five hundred litres of water jetting out per second, this iconic beauty is one of the largest fountains in the world. Although Jet d’Eau has become THE must-see attraction in Geneva but believe me you, it is not the only one.
Beyond the gentle ripples of water lie lush green parks that had once formed a part of magnificent estates and are now spread across more than 25% of the city. Covered with blossoming flowers and buzzing with activity, these areas are the perfect refuge for tourists and locals alike.
Parks and Recreation
At the Bastions Park, near Place Neuve, the city comes alive over exciting games played on life-size chess boards. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned chess player, a one-off challenge will surely give you a heady dose of excitement!
Overlooking this park, a Reformation Wall has been built on the grounds of Geneva University to honor individuals closely connected to the Protestant Reformation. From statues and bas reliefs to the motto Post Tenebras Lux (After Darkness Light) engraved in the wall, dive deep into Swiss history as you walk along the 100 metre stretch.
Sweet summer times in Geneva are incomplete without a visit to the picturesque Park La Grange, spread over an area of 1200 sq. metres and located 3.5 km away from Bastions Park. With towering trees more than a century old and a bed of white, red and pink roses to greet you, these opulent gardens are one of the most beautiful Swiss treasures.
When Music is in the Air
As the Alpine valleys become warmer and late evenings are filled with sunshine, the city transforms from a shopping and tourist destination to a musical haven. In the month of July every year, global artistes take to the grand Summer Stage at La Grange Park where more than 100 concerts are lined up as a part of the Musiques en été, or Summer Music Festival.
Global sounds float through the air as you sip a glass of local wine and enjoy a picnic amidst greenery with your loved ones. What can be a better vacation than that?
Besides the musical extravaganza, Geneva has another summer treat in store for you – the grand Fêtes de Genève (Geneva Festival) held from late July to mid-August. This fest kicks off on 1st August, the Swiss National Day, with a magnificent fireworks spectacle put together by countries such as France and Australia, and many more, along the shores of Lac Leman.
As this momentous day unfolds, streets are lined with colorful national and cantonal flags. From crowding around huge bonfires to feasting on fresh breads and playing alphorns, the locals surely know how to live it up!
Food for the Soul
If a picnic basket is not your style of celebration, then escape to the next door sloping hillside Eaux Vives Park resplendent with an 18th century castle that now serves as a world-class restaurant. On the first floor of this magnificent chateau, L’Étage offers the ultimate gourmet food experience with local flavors.
Round and Round the Big Fat Maze!
With so many enthralling festivals and activities, Geneva will definitely keep you busy as the summer unfolds. To add to the fun and frolic, there is one more magical retreat for you and your family – the Labyrinth Adventure Park.
Step out of this buzzing city for a quick getaway to the biggest permanent maze in the world, spread over an area of 25,000 square metres in the Valais canton. Aimed at people of all age groups, the 3 km long labyrinth is perfect for adventure enthusiasts and thrill seekers.
And with a pit stop at the world’s largest natural maze, I bid adieu to Geneva and its enchanting sights. Although this blog has come to an end, I am absolutely certain that the memories of your sojourn will last a lifetime!