What’s the best place to watch a French victory in the World Cup? A French bar!

As you may or may not know, there was just a month long soccer tournament hosted by Russia called the World Cup, in which the 32 best national soccer teams compete every four years for the world championship.  This tournament is a huge deal over here. Geneva is an international city, so there are die-hard fans for virtually all of the European teams, and many of the South American teams.  People support their teams by hanging flags from there apartment windows, sporting those little car window flags, and by wearing their teams jerseys.  I’m a sports fan, I enjoy the game of soccer, and even though I had no particular rooting interest (the US team failed to qualify for the tournament) I tuned into several games and along with everyone else, got a little caught up in the whole deal.

Before I go any further, I have something I need to get off my chest regarding the state of soccer.  The point is to score more goals than the opponent. This is accomplished through two strategies.  The first is to play better soccer, make good passes, feed your goal scorers, and create scoring opportunities.  The other strategy – which is employed throughout the entire game – is to deceive the referee into thinking that the other team committed a penalty.  So every game involves players constantly sprawling to the ground at the slightest contact and rolling around in fake agonizing pain in order to get a free kick and/or to get an opposing player tossed out of the game. That bugs me.  End of rant.

Last weekend was the final game, the championship featuring the favored French squad against the upstart and underdog Croatia.  My friend Rodger called me and suggested we drive the 45 minutes over to Annecy, France to watch the game! I was all in!  Here’s a picture of Rodger and me in Annecy at halftime.

Rodger and me in Annecy

Halftime on the main street in the Old City.

I knew of a really cool bar in town, called Beer O’clock… as in “What time is it?  It’s Beer O’clock!” We stepped inside and made our way to the bar, and found a spot to stand and watch the game, have a drink or two, and make friends with the French fans.

France took a quick 1-0 lead and then forfeited the tying goal just a few minutes later.  As I was planning this blog post, I was thinking to myself, “wouldn’t it be great if I could record a reaction to a French goal in a French bar??”  But goals are hard to see coming, with one notable exception: the penalty kick.  If a defensive team commits a penalty or “hand ball” in their own penalty area, the offensive team gets a free penalty shot from 12 meters away that only the goalie can defend.  It is not hyperbolic to suggest that throughout the entire history of soccer, hardly anyone has ever missed a penalty kick.  So, as fate would have it, Croatia committed a hand ball inside their penalty area, setting up a penalty kick and sure goal for the French squad. That’s when I fired up my phone and shot the following video.  Be patient, the shot comes about a minute in.

Near the end of the game, with France protecting it’s 4-2 lead, we headed back through town toward the car.  I shot this video of the raucous crowd celebrating the French World Cup championship!  (My apologies for inadvertently videoing one dude with no shirt, rendering this video a bit risqué.)



European Christmas Markets – A great way to get in the holiday spirit!

The idea is being “borrowed” in the U.S. and elsewhere, but to me, the traditional Christmas Market will always be a uniquely European custom. According to my research, the Germans first came up with the idea back in the late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and across the former Holy Roman Empire including modern day regions of France and Switzerland. Today, virtually all large European cities – and many small ones – open Christmas Markets that last the entire month of December. Continue reading

Join me for the 7.3K Course de l’Escalade run in Geneva’s Old City

I’m going to admit right from the start that I plan to put a lot less effort into writing this post than I did in producing it. I ran a 7.3 kilometer race earlier today, called the Course de l’Escalade. Regular followers of this blog might recall a previous post in which I explained the historical significance of the Escalade celebration.

Another event of the week-long celebration is a running “race” through the Old City. Continue reading

I finished the Lausanne Triathlon! (…and came in 310th place…)

About three months ago, as incentive to keep working out, I registered for the Lausanne Triathlon. And not for one of those wimpy “sprint” triathlons, either. This one is classified as the “Olympic Distance”: 1.5 kilometer swim (in Lake Geneva); 40K bike ride; and a 10K run. It’s the same distance that Great Britain’s Browlee brothers went gold/silver in Rio.

It was a beautiful day for a race, temperatures in the high 70s, light breeze, partly cloudy. Continue reading

The Fête L’Escalade: Geneva commemorates its defeat of the Savoyards in 1602

Never let it be said that Les Genevois (the residents of Geneva, en français) don’t know how to celebrate a military victory. Some 413 years after turning back the Savoyards in a surprise attack on the then city-state of Geneva, this town goes completely nuts! But first, a little history on the conflict itself. Continue reading

Watch me risk life and limb (and have some fun) at the Fête de Genève

Every summer for two weeks, Geneva hosts a festival (“fête”, en français!) down on the lake in the heart of the city. Anyone who has ever been to a state fair can imagine what there is to see and do at the Fête de Genève, but I figured it would still be fun to go down and experience it for myself. Continue reading

The “Coup de Soleil” is the most awesome light show ever!

Sadly, there is no way that justice can be done in this post to adequately convey the sheer awesomeness of the light show currently being performed three times a night at the University of Geneva. The show, called “Coup de Soleil” (a clever double entendre whose literal translation is “sunburn”, but has the double meaning here of “sunburst” or something similar.) What makes this show so unique is that the “screen” is the Administration Building of the University of Geneva. Continue reading