While I did get a good chance to explore Geneva on my recent trip, I did also spent most of my time inside the International Labour Organisation. There were various art works around the building, this stained glass art work was near some of the conference rooms and is known as the German window, showing different sectors of work.
The carpet on the floor starts at 1919 when the ILO was founded. There was a photography exhibition launched at the conference entitled ‘So we exist‘ – the work of a very talented photographer, Ismail Ferdous, who has managed to capture the working lives and experiences of communities from often places all over the world.
I was walking through the hall, looking at the photographs when suddenly a man stopped in front of me and looked at the floor. He apologised for stopping abruptly but then explained that he had stopped at the year in which he was born and looked back a long the hall and said that he was just thinking about all that has been achieved by the ILO in his lifetime. Now this gentleman was rather more senior than I, and when he asked where I would be a long the timeline I had to point quite a bit further along the hallway. So much in the world has changed even in my life time, not just in the world of work, but in everything – and talking to this gentleman was a timely reminder that sometimes it’s important to stop, take stock of things, and recognise what has been achieved, even if there is still a long way to go.
My reason for being in Geneva was a conference at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which is in the area of Geneva where all the other UN buildings and other international organisations are located. So this was the sight I had on my walk to the conference every morning. The United Nations Palais des Nations seen here in the background with the giant chair in the foreground. The chair is an art work that symbolises the campaign against landmines – you can see that the left leg of the chair is splintered half way up.
This was a great little spot near the lake, the Brunswick Monument which was created to commemorate the life of Charles II, Duke of Brunswick. While the monument was interesting, and I liked the reflection it had on the pools either side, it was actually the Cottage Cafe behind it that made this a great spot.
As the name suggests, the Cottage cafe, actually looks like a little cottage, but it had lots of seating outside next to a little pool with a fountain. It was a lovely little tranquil spot in the city, a perfect place for writing early in the morning (it gets really busy later in the day so more of a social spot later on). And as you can see here the breakfast was almost like a work of art – I ordered muesli and this is what I got – there is some muesli at the bottom. If only my breakfast always looked like this. What was interesting that this, plus the espresso cost less than a latte and a yoghurt cost me in Starbucks the day before!
And when I had finished I was joined by some of the local wildlife. The birds around here clearly know they have a never ending supply of food, there were a few of these hopping around most of the tables with people at them – one gentleman trying to read the morning newspaper with his toast was getting quite frustrated by the birds attempts to get the crumbs from his plate.
I was the Plaine de Plainpalais area picking up some bread and fruit from a local market (a great way to learn about local food and produce) and I came across this statue which at first I thought was some kind of zombie statue. It turns out it was a statue of Frankenstein – much of Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein took place around Geneva.
On my last night I discovered a Mövenpick cafe – and rather than head back to the hotel to pack and start making a list of things I needed to do when I got back, I decided to sit in the sun, read my book and eat waffles and ice cream (white chocolate on the waffle and maple and pecan to the side – both delicious)!
More blues skies in Geneva…
Geneva is a city where you certainly want to spend a lot of time outdoors, and the city provides the spaces to do so (not to mention the beautiful landscape around the city which you could spend weeks exploring), there were a few of these spread around the park and clearly being made use of.
Wandering around the old town, near the cathedral, the city had a very different feel to the contemporary cosmopolitan area that I had been staying in. I was there quite early in the morning and the streets were more or less deserted, it was great being able to wander about and explore what felt like a little maze.
I watched to see how close boats would get to the jet, often surprisingly close – if the wind had changed direction I’m pretty sure these guys would have been soaked.
One of my current research projects at work is about the development of the coffee house industry, and one part of this explores the growth of specialty (or ‘third wave’) coffee, of which cold drip coffee is associated with. It seems this trend has also reached Geneva. This was in a small coffee house called Boréal. I’m not a fan of cold coffee, although their single origin Colombian espresso was excellent.
As you would perhaps expect there was chocolate everywhere in Geneva. I didn’t get a chance to try these slabs of chocolate as the shop was shut at the time, but I did manage to try a selection of others from other stores.
I’m lucky my job allows me to travel to interesting places, most recently, Geneva. When I arrived it was hot and sunny with beautiful blue skies.
It’s a city that caters well for cyclists, as well as other more interesting forms of getting around.
At the end of the first day, through my hotel window. a sunset sky.
For one of my research projects I’ve been visiting a lot of coffee houses, cafes and tea rooms, and often they have some quite amusing signs like this one – Decaffeinated coffee: Useless. Warm Brown Water. I would tend to agree…
This was a great little coffee house in Geneva called Birdie Coffee.