The News From Geneva

A month ago, Geneva (and Europe) was in the middle of a giant cold snap.  Pictures of a frozen car in Versoix, Switzerland made headlines around the world (and was featured on this blog).  Waves and spray from Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) covered the lakeside with ice.  While it isn’t exactly warm here, it is much warmer.  The owner of the storied car made headlines when he finally retrieved it this week.

The front page of the paper 20 Minutes with the headline “The frozen car leaves without coughing.”

He had to wait for the ice to melt because chipping it off damages the paint.  We still see little bits of snow here and there, but it is melting fast.  Boats are going back into the lake.  I even saw a girl sunning herself in a bikini top.  She had to have been freezing, but no one was complaining.

The title of 20 Minutes article is “My notoriety is to have poorly parked my car.”

Problems with the weather and natural disasters continue.  Sion and Zermatt experienced avalanches.  Luckily, no one was injured or killed.

Also from 20 Minutes

Also in the Alps, a helicopter crashed near Les Diablerets.  The two people on board survived, but were injured.  This is the second crash there in as many months.  As much fun as the mountains have been, there are daily reminders of their dangers.

In other news, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the former Swiss President, received a pie in the face after attending  the opening of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights.. Actually, it was a Black Forest Cake.  She is not pressing charges.

Also from the paper 20 Minutes

a photo of the article in 20 Minutes

A 66 year-old Swiss retiree gave birth to twins. She was artificially inseminated at a clinic in the Ukraine.
In Switzerland, just like just about every other country, women make less than men for doing the same work. Today is Equal Pay Day, the day women break even with men… for the work they did last year. The average woman worked all last year through to today to make the average salary that a man made from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.

from 20 minutes

From 20 Minutes

From 20 Minutes

Finally in sports, Swiss superstar athletes (Roger Federer and Fabian Cancellara) continue to win.  Skiing is big.  Quel surprise.

 

How Do You Pronounce Ouchy?

How do you pronounce this?

 

Ouchy is a town on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) near Lausanne.  It is known for hosting Byron (and Shelley), the Olympic Museum next-door its castle and its beautiful lakefront.

 

Ouchy fontaine

Ouchy fontaine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When we went with Pitbull, it was gray and freezing cold.  Last year, we were able to enjoy the beautiful waterfront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooo-she? Ew-she? He likes to pronounce it like a minor injury, ouch-ee.  I’ve been trying Ew-chi.  After a bit of research, I found out Ouchy is pronounced ūshē‘.  How would you pronounce it?

 

Getting even more advanced, how would the French pronounce this?

 

 

 

More Pictures of the Versoix, Switzerland Ice Storm

Last week, I posted pictures of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)’s ice storm.  I took them in  the Eaux-Vives area of Geneva, Switzerland.  The post included a picture that was widely circulated (it went viral) of a car covered in ice after the ice storm in Versoix, Switzerland.  Versiox is about 20 minutes up the lake from Geneva.  I couldn’t resist going to see and take some more ice pictures.

Courtesy of the Telegraph and AFP

I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see it.  There were adults with cameras and children sliding on the ice.  Other bloggers have also posted pictures.  Clearly, I am not as talented as the AFP photographer who took the shot above.  Nevertheless, it was impressive.

Car covered in ice after the Versoix ice storm

Apparently, ice storms like this are not a regular occurrence here.  You can find pictures on the internet from one in 2005, but this could very well be the only one we see.

Someone placed a mannequin on the dock

 

Geneva (And Europe’s) Cold Weather

It is the middle of winter so I wasn’t expecting warm weather in Geneva, but I wasn’t really expecting this either.  Europe is experiencing extremely cold temperatures.  The weather forecast: more severe cold.  The bitterly cold weather will continue  through the weekend thanks to a dip in the jet stream that has allowed a large area of high pressure to move west from Siberia.

freezing in Geneva

Cold weather gear, check.  Hats, scarves, sweaters, coats, gloves, mittens, long underwear, wool socks, boots, I have been wearing it all.  At once.  While drinking hot tea.  Sitting underneath a blanket.  With the radiators blasting.

The Jet d’Eau is off until further notice for obvious reasons

This weekend,  it was -12 C (10.4 F) when we got on the chair lift to head to the much colder mountaintop.  While the chair lift wasn’t warm, we are lucky because the cold snap hasn’t created major problems for us.  Others have not been so fortunate:

  • Occupy Geneva has been disbanded, not because the government is broke it up, but because someone froze to death.

A Death In The Stronghold Of Occupy Geneva

An Eccentric Distantly Related to Occupy Geneva Dead At The Camp

Courtesy of World Bulletin.net

  • In Hungary, people combed through a disused mine’s refuse pile with their bare hands to get coal.

Courtesy of MSNBC/AP

Courtesy AFP/Getty Images

There have also been some more (and some less) humorous stories about people’s experiences with the cold.

  • Our friend from Poland told us that they are leaving their cars running overnight because temperatures are so cold that they won’t start.
  • Bosnian snowboarders took advantage of a record snowfall and snowboarded down the streets of Sarajevo. People also snowboarded next to the Colosseum.

  • When I opened the paper yesterday, I saw a story about someone who went swimming in Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)!

courtesy of You Tube

  • In Belgium, temperatures of -10 C kept intoxilyzers, machines to test motorists’ alcohol levels, from functioning.

    courtesy of BBC and AFP

  • Cars parked by Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) have frozen in place.  They are stuck because scraping ice off can take the paint with it.  Today, someone told me a story about this happening to an expensive sports car.  The owner elicited professional help to melt the ice so he could get his baby to a garage.

 

A Sunday Drive

With the exception of a visit to Evian, we’d never spent much time on the French side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).  Everyone had told us that there wasn’t much there.  Last Sunday, we took a drive up that side of the lake.  It’s true, there aren’t any really large towns.  There were a few places we would like to visit again.
carte tour du lac leman a velo seminaire seminaires evian les bains
We started out in Hermance, the last town on the Swiss side of the border.  It is a cute, old town.  On a Sunday morning, it was very quiet.  They have a beach and a playground that could be very child-friendly in the summer.
Next, we went to Yvoire.  It was our favorite stop.  We walked around it’s historic walled town checked out the lakefront.  We will probably take a ferry there for a late afternoon meal, stroll around the town and take a boat back around sunset.
Yvoire was surprisingly busy.  It’s very steep and built into the hillside.  As a result, it’s a bit more difficult to navigate.  The beaches on the east side of town are rocky.  We stopped and picked up tons of beach glass.
Evian can be quickly seen in an hour or two.  We continued all the way to the Swiss border at Saint Gingolph.  During the drive, it became clear why the French side of the lake is so sparsely populated in comparison to the Swiss side.  It is bordered by steep mountains.  There is very little land that is suitable for building.
We need to clean our windshield, but you get the idea.
We joked that Switzerland (which needs as much farmland as it can get its hands on to feed its citizens) took all the farmable, buildable land around the lake and said to France “you can keep the mountains, we have enough of those.”
 

No Body Bags in this Morges

 
Sorry for the bad pun, I just couldn’t help it.  I’m also sorry for the excessive “Cute Swiss Towns” posts.  You might have guessed.  We’ve had visitors and have been busy showing them around.  As a visitor, I really appreciate anything my hosts do to show me or teach me about where they live.  I, perhaps erroneously, assume that the rest of the world appreciates this as well.   As a result, staying with us can be a sort of boot camp.  If you give me the slightest indication that you want to see and do things, it’s on.  You were warned.
 
When my mom was here, we went to Morges.  It’s located between Geneva and Lausanne, near Nyon, on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).  Some people commute from there to Geneva (the housing is so tight in Geneva that some people don’t have a choice, others like this adorable town).  
It is adorable and while it doesn’t have lots of fancy museums, it has cute streets, nice cafes and beautiful views.
 
 
Boot camp looks really rough

It’s Switzerland.  Of course they have a castle.  He, as always, liked the cannons best.

Don’t plan on attacking Morges; they have at least two cannons.  Vaud is the name of the canton (the Swiss version of a state).

St. Saphorin

St. Saphorin, one of the towns in the Lavaux Vineyards (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is known for its white wine, terraced vineyards and its beauty. It is not false advertising.  This place is insanely beautiful.  They weren’t lying about the terraces or the wine either.  

Lots of things have to come together to make a town this cute.  They include: winding streets, gorgeous views of the lake and mountains,  stone buildings, cute decorations, adorable fountains, narrow alleys, Roman ruins and, of course, free wine.   

Winding streets? Check.
Gorgeous views of the lake and mountains? Hmmm.
Yeah, that’ll do.  Check.
Stone buildings?  Check.
Cute decorations? Check.
The cute decorations were everywhere.
Adorable fountain?  Check.
Narrow alleys?  Check.

St. Saphorin is built on a Roman site.  In the basement of the house where I grew up, there are canned goods, potatoes and onions.  In St. Saphorin, they have excavated Roman ruins in their crypt. 

Roman ruins?  Check.
Free wine?  Check.
The town was handing out free glasses of wine and bread sticks.   It was really good.   Okay, so free wine doesn’t actually make a town cute, but it doesn’t hurt either.   They receive bonus points for the bread sticks.

Geneva Expat 101 Lesson 3 – The Best Fondue In Geneva

Finally, I have gotten to the really important things for expats in Geneva.  The Buvette at the Bains de Paquis has the best fondue in Geneva.  As much as I want to bring you the scoop, I am certainly not about to eat every fondue in Geneva.   Regardless, I stand by my statement.  Here’s why.  It is really good fondue.  At 20 CHF, it is reasonably priced.  The best part though is the location, its wonderful view and relaxed atmosphere.  This is your view.  Outstanding.  I rest my case.

It is a great place to bring out-of-town guests.  When my mom was visiting, we brought her here (by boat from Eaux-Vives) for a very memorable evening.  She ate it up.  Heck, I ate it up.  Literally.

 

Surprising Vevey

Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey.  You can easily see why.  It is a cute, calm, old town with breathtaking views and nice surprises.

 
 
 

The older area near the water is filled with belle époque era buildings.  They have covered the town in flowers.  There is a nice, lengthy lakeside promenade with many parks.  This makes it a perfect place to slow down, walk around and be pleasantly surprised.

This looks cool during the day
…and at night.
Definitely unexpected
 
The Museum of Alimentation (food) had an awesome vegetable/herb garden out front, definitely a nice surprise.*
 
Seeing kids jumping from the pool area into the lake was definitely surprising. Although if you saw the bridge jumping post, it is, perhaps, less so.
It would have been surprising if he had actually caught something.
 
A surprisingly good place to chill out,  we wished we had brought our suits.
 
 

This game was another surprise.  Please let me know if you know what they were playing.  It looked like fun.

 
It would have been surprising if we had jumped in the fountain.  We wanted to, but the kids wouldn’t get out. 
 
 
What?  You don’t see this every day?
 
 
 
Okay, the DeLorean wasn’t too much of a surprise, but the rest of the cars at the car show we stumbled into were.
 
* Nestlé is headquartered in Vevey.  They sponsor the museum and might have had something to do with the fork too.

Lovely Lausanne

We like living in Geneva, but keep hearing about Lausanne. People have told us that it is more Swiss, there is more nightlife and that it is prettier. There is a better view of the alps on that side of the lake. I had to check it out for you and  set off on a road trip with Andrés, Wildcat, Hokie and another yankee.
The obligatory cow picture

Lausanne was definitely pretty. It had beautiful old buildings, nice parks, plenty of statues and lots of flowers.

 
We went to the climbed the huge hill* from the lake to get to the old town. We stopped by a couple of old churches. It was definitely worth going to the Lausanne Cathedral. The views from there were amazing. If it were Disneyworld, they would have one of those little camera signs telling you it is a good place from which to take a picture.
 
The Lausanne Cathedral
Inside. It was built as a Catholic Cathedral, during the reformation, they took out some of the ornamentation.
The streets of Lausanne were adorable. You could have a wonderful afternoon, just walking around, shopping or having a nice bite.

We hear that Lausanne has more of a night life than in Geneva. They definitely seem to get more live music acts. We are hoping to  head there to see a concert sometime.

Lausanne has the International Olympic Museum. They have a really nice park and the view doesn’t suck. We didn’t go in because the weather was too good.  Since it is someplace I would like to visit again, I’m saving it for a rainy (or merely freezing) day.

The Olympic Flame
Oh yeah. I almost forgot…here’s the view. It’s a bit of all right. That makes it official, we are at the ugly end of the lake.
*If you come, be prepared, Switzerland is not flat.