Monday, March 28

Living in the Suburbs

Here are some pics of our new place. We have been exploring the area on foot and realise that if we walk 20 minutes in one direction we are in the countryside, close to the French border. 20 minutes in the other direction has us almost in Geneva’s city centre. If we could get rid of the late-night-partying upstairs neighbour, this place would be absolutely perfect!

Front Garden

Front garden looking back to bedroom

Back Garden

Kitchen / Dining area

View from Kitchen 


We spent two nights in Zurich over the Easter weekend. It’s a gorgeous city and we enjoyed wandering around the Old Town, the area where we were staying. On the Saturday we went on a full day tour to the equally gorgeous city of Luzern, and then up to Mt Titlus, a 3020m high ski resort. 3000 metres is the permanent snow and ice level, so there’s skiing there all year round. The advanced slopes look incredibly dangerous, and are, with some visitors apparently not realising that schnapps and snowboarding aren’t a good mix.

We took the train to and from Zurich, a trip which took just under 3 hours and cost about 130 Francs each. 1st class is certainly comfortable and we almost had the entire carriage to ourselves. But, if we’re going to be able to afford frequent trips away, we figure it would be wiser to go 2nd class and save our money for when we get there.

Next weekend? Maybe a better look around Lausanne (about 60kms around the lake from Geneva) or perhaps a walk into neighbouring France.

On top of Mt Titlus (3020m)

Chapel Bridge, Luzern

Limmat River, Zurich


Sunday, March 20

Moving House

It's been a busy weekend. We have moved into our groovy new apartment - it's even got a garden! Our furniture doesn't arrive until end of April so we've had to get a few things to tide us over. So it was off to IKEA (30 mins on the train from Geneva). It was my first IKEA experience and I was blown away! We managed to rush around the massive, packed shop and fill up our trolleys in under an hour. We got an outdoor setting (currently being used indoors), sofabed, lamps (as there are no light fittings in our flat!), crockery, cutlery, towels, sheets, etc! We then hired their van and raced down the motorway to drop it all off. Peter did a great job of driving - when he remembered to change the gears!

The weather's been great. It has been hovering around 20 degrees for the last few days. Incredible to think it was below zero and covered with snow only 2 weeks ago.

Andrea & Gabi (Peter's work colleagues from Adelaide) have come to stay. They arrived yesterday amidst our moving mess, and were fantastic help to put together all the IKEA stuff. They are with us for a few nights as part of their year long trip around Europe. It's been great to hear the stories of their travels so far.

Too tired to type more tonight - will post some pics of the new place soon!

Sunday, March 13

Do they ski in Switzerland?

Do they what! The skiing here is incredible - incredible to watch anyway! Our first trip outside Geneva was to Gryon, about 1.5 hours drive from the city. Our new friends Bob & Zydre, invited us to stay at their place (a 400 year old chalet). They are fantastic hosts and have really made our first few weeks in Geneva terrific.

On Saturday morning we drove up to Barboleuse, took the telecabine to Les Chaux then walked 10 kilometres (!!) down the cross country ski track. It was absolutely stunning as you'll see from the photos below.

Thursday, March 10

My New Office

This is the main entry to the Palais des Nations and where I walk in each morning. It’s then a 5 minute walk to my office up on the 4th floor. As you’ll see from the photo below, it’s very spacious and has lots of natural light. Unfortunately I can’t boast about the view, or the furniture for that matter. Views of the lake are reserved for the more senior staff and are truly fantastic. Good thing I haven’t got one as it would be hard to keep myself from gazing out the window.

Work is going very well. I’ve met with all of the other teams in the division and am starting to understand what it is we do. This seems to be quite a lot, so I expect to be busy - always a good thing!

Sunday, March 6

Sunday Lunch

Today we decided to head out into the snow to explore Geneva’s Old Town, and have our first Swiss restaurant meal. The Old town is absolutely gorgeous – it is surrounded by large fortified walls and has a maze of narrow cobblestone streets. Due to the cold, snow and hungry tummies, we only spent a short time exploring the area, but we definitely plan to return for a better look.

Lunch was a wonderful experience. After much searching we found a small restaurant on the banks of the River Rhone. We settled into the warm room for our first fondue meal and bottle of Swiss wine. The fondue was CHF 24 per person and we were encouraged by our waiter to also order an ‘air cured beef’ accompaniment for CHF 28 (yes we fell for it!).

Although expensive, the meal was great, and the refuge from the cold was most welcome. We were briefly entertained by a very drunk, cigar smoking man across the other side of the room who was tossing back the drinks. After smashing a couple of glasses and generally running amok, he left the restaurant, jumped into the BMW parked out the front and drove away!

We rounded off our meal with a fantastic cafĂ© au lait (best coffee yet) and berries with icecream. After parting with CHF 135 (approx AUD$155), we ventured back out into the heaviest snow we’ve seen so far. We are now safely tucked away in our lovely warm apartment and feeling very relaxed.

Internet Experience

Jess and I are avid internet users….it is worthwhile outlining our experience in terms of getting internet connection in Switzerland after leaving the familiarity of Australia.

We bought ourselves & our family webcams before leaving, intending to make extensive use – it is wonderful seeing the pictures. We have found the sound is not too good. We suspect one needs broadband at both ends for this to be effective (we will get this when we have somewhere permanent to live). We also discovered a groovy sight called – free computer to computer conversations or very cheap computer to phone…..again frustrating without broadband.

Also before we left Australia we looked for a provider – not that easy if you are not fluent in French or German (we aren’t). Jess found a ‘global roaming’ company that claimed to be cheap!!! What a bad experience. We bought some credit (euros) & essentially got ripped off, paying the equivalent of around $12A/ hour as well as exorbitant telephone connection costs (from our temporary accommodation). After a period we finally gave up….as well as being frustrating, the experience cost us $150A with unbelievably little return.

We then decided to go Swiss….we visited a Swisscom shop…an experience in itself. We nearly broke the automatic door getting in, didn’t take our number & then had trouble communicating with the Swisscom staff member. Anyway we bought a dial up package called ‘Bluewin’ & came home to install. It claimed to have English, but we soon found ourselves needing to install in German. Quite a challenge….but Frau Gardner and I got there with some intelligent guess work (it wouldn’t let you proceed if things were wrong!!).

Anyway, we have the system working and while it is a little slow, it seems relatively cheap (time will tell on this!!). I guess the moral of this story is to go straight for the national carrier, and while one can get by with very limited French in Geneva (that’s us, but we intend to correct this) having reasonable knowledge of French is a real bonus.

It is great being able to see and talk to family back in Australia & it is worthwhile persisting……we also had huge issues with our email - but that is another story. Boy am I glad I married an IT guru!!

Tuesday, March 1

We've Arrived

We arrived in Geneva this morning and have now been here for about 7 hours. It's very cold here but sunny and still. Our apartment is excellent - central, roomy, nice furniture and very comfortable. I am most pleased about this as we will probably be living here for a couple of months.

Here is a photo of the lounge and entry way. The entry is where the kitchen is too (behind that wall. There is a doorway (obscured by the entertainment cabinet in this photo) which leads to a reasonable size bedroom with built ins and bathroom.

This is the view from our window - note the tram stop out the front goes directly to the UN. We haven't been on it yet but will do a trial run tomorrow before I have to start work on Thursday.

Finally a shot of the mountains taken from about 50 metres down the road.