I ride public transportation in Geneva virtually every day. One of the things that users of the system soon learn is that they will frequently be “entertained” and subsequently solicited for donations by a variety of musical acts while riding the trams (Geneva’s light rail network). These acts typically involve some combination of guitars, accordions and/or stand-up bass fiddles, along with some vocal accompaniment. I’ll be honest, when I see a group filing onto the tram with their musical instruments, I generally groan, but I do reach into my pocket for a franc or two figuring that if someone has the stones to wake up in the morning and decide they’re going to spend the day riding around town on the city tram playing an accordion for donations, that’s worthy of a small donation.
So I’m riding the tram to work last week, and two guys climb on board, one with an acoustic guitar, the other with an electric guitar. Now I’m somewhat intrigued. Continue reading →
Meet my good friend and notoriously-slow-Snickers-candy-bar-eater Pat M. He was just here for six days. I’ve known Pat since we were teammates on a powerhouse third grade boys soccer team back in the late ’60s. These days, Pat spends much of his time working outdoors as a wetlands scientist so I knew he would be up for a solid week of hiking and exploring in the Swiss and French Alps. He did not disappoint. Continue reading →
Winter weather in Geneva can be a little depressing. With the alps to the south and the Jura mountain range to the north sandwiching Lake Geneva and the city, it’s not uncommon to go two or three weeks without seeing the sun as a thick, impenetrable fog settles in over the city.
It’s beautiful… at 4,000 feet!
So what can one to do to escape the dreariness? Throw some skis into the “boot” (that’s what they call car trunks over here) and head up into the mountains! Continue reading →
The Swiss Sojourner generally avoids political commentary, but with world leaders gathering right here in Davos for the World Economics Forum, I’ve decided to include a brief post on an event that took place here in Geneva as the meetings in Davos were getting underway. (Similar events were held across Switzerland in Lausanne, Zurich, Basel, and Bern.)
My friend Rabea told me that there was going to be a demonstration at 7:00 PM in the commercial district of Geneva along the Place du Molard. Continue reading →
I am asked from time to time, “what’s your favorite European country?”
There’s something to love about every country we’ve visited, but I never hesitate in responding: It’s Italy. Italy totally rules. It’s got everything: coastlines on two seas, magnificent architecture, the art, the fun-loving people… I could go on and on, so I will for a minute: the food, the historic cities both large and small, the wine, the scenery… So when you decide to visit Italy, there are lots of really good options.
If wine and scenery are your key criteria, I recommend visiting the Piedmont wine region in northwestern Italy. Continue reading →
Followers of this blog will recall my affinity for the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the mountains of the Bernese Oberland region, including the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains. I’ve taken virtually every visitor we’ve had to Lauterbrunnen, usually incorporationg the hike between Grutschalp and Murren, then down to Stechelberg and back to Lauterbrunnen through the valley.
But every time I’ve been there, when the weather was clear, I’d glance up the valley to the highest peak, called Schilthorn and say to myself, “Some day I will hike all the way up there.” I mentioned this to one of my favorite hiking companions, Patrick, who was in town for a visit, and the two of us decided it would be a great adventure and a lot of fun to hike it together. Continue reading →
One hot summer day a couple years ago shortly after arriving in Geneva, we were wandering around town and had a hankering for some good ice cream. So we googled: “best ice cream shop in Geneva” seeking hints on where we might go to find some. Up came a place called “ArtyGlaces”, located right in town, a few blocks away from the junction of the Rhone and Arve rivers. We put away our phones and made our way there.
Three years and much incredibly delicious ice cream later, I can honestly say that it was the best recommendation I’ve ever received from Google. This is a fun story about friendship and making delicious ice cream. Continue reading →
About three months ago, a friend of mine happened to mention that he had registered for a “race hike” up a mountain near Montreux, on the east end of Lake Geneva. I was like, “Seriously? Mountain race hiking? That’s a thing?” and when he replied yes, I went and registered for the race. Continue reading →
I’ve written before on hiking the Cinqua Terra trail along the Mediterranean coast in northern Italy, an adventure I’ve done twice – once with Patrick and again with my friends Ken and Jane. This time, on a trip to Italy with our most frequent visitors Cliff and Ellen, we had the opportunity to explore a new stretch of the Italian Mediterranean coastline, the Portofino peninsula. Continue reading →
One feature of many European cities that I especially enjoy and that distinguishes them from a typical American city is the craftsmanship that goes into paving the streets and walking surfaces. Wander around virtually any American city, and what do you see? Concrete and asphalt mostly. But wander around any European city, and the the streets, sidewalks, boulevards, plazas are very often characterized by beautiful stonework that is itself an art form.
We visited Lisbon a few months back and since we love to explore every city we visit by foot, we discovered that Lisbon is a city where virtually all of the sidewalks and plazas are themselves works of art. Continue reading →