Sunday, June 14, 2009

Retroblogging: the first few days

To get to Geneva, I had a connection in Amsterdam, and was pretty impressed by the airport. It resembled South Korea's airport in frequency of cool blue and yellow graphics as well as the number of shops. Most of the Amsterdam merchandise was swathed in marijuana leaves and other such celebrations of localized Harold and Kumar. I'm not sure why I was surprised, but it was nice to have stores that were run by type of merchandise, and not brand; of course, the food ones were the most interesting:

Cafe Chocolat sold pure chocolate by weight, as well as hot chocolate, though it wasn't open when I was at gate.

I wish I could take meat and dairy products from one EU country to another.

Upon arriving in Geneva, I took a large swath of the afternoon just to wander through the streets and to check out the major landmark, the Jet d'Eau. The city is crowded during the majority of the day, which means that people are sitting out on cafe patios throughout all hours (until early closing around 8pm). The pace here is such a dramatic change from how I usually do things; although I do walk rather fast here (and because relative distance is shorter here, I can usually do more than a handful of touristy activities in a day), it's pretty ridiculous how long I take to eat lunch now. Forty whole minutes, haha -- even by myself.

The Bourg de Four is a neighborhood where a lot of people go for food; because it's in the vieille ville (old town) of Geneva, it also looks especially Disneyland-like. (I shudder for what I just said.)

I went to Chez ma Cousine for lunch. It's popular with Americans for the large quantity of food it serves at the price: half a baked chicken, with Provencal roasted potatoes and a salad, for about $14 US. It was a nice load before walking ten miles up the Geneva hills and around the lake; as you can probably tell from this photo, I was really hungry and nearly forgot to document the meal.

It was much better than my first lunch here at Migros, the grocery-cum-mall-cum-cafeteria, which I was told by the Harvard study abroad team was fairly reasonable. Can you guess how much this lunch cost?

That's right. $17 US for less than a half of pound of food from the vegetarian salad bar and a 7UP.

Now, a token picture of Lake Geneva, with the Jet d'Eau in the background:
All around the lake, there are a few cafes, but also many ice cream and sandwich stands. Although all of the ice cream stands are run by seventy year old ladies and seem family-owned, they all carry the same ice cream brand, the same signage, and the same price: US $2.50 for a scoop. Having endured Ben and Jerry's tyrannical $4.50 a scoop in Harvard Square (I ran out of my Herrell's dollar-off coupons, since they actually collect them now...), I willingly shelled out a few Swiss francs for a scoop of rose gelato. I couldn't simultaneously lick the cone and take a photo, but rest assured, it was delicious - and one-third the portion of a scoop in the States. That said, I'm under the impression the ice cream stands on the lake carry a relatively less gourmet brand, but it's been hard to find rose gelato anywhere else in Geneva (and I am sick of hazelnut gelato, thanks very much) and it is rather refreshing and less sickly sweet than other things. Next on the list: blood orange ice cream -- not sorbet.

To all you yuppies and quirky Juno lovers in Williamsburg: please consider rose gelato the new basil ice cream trend. In the meantime, here's a photo of the coolest trash can ever, near one of the ice cream stands. How space-efficient is it not?

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