Eat, shop, parasail? The travel guides encourage you to do all three in Geneva, Switzerland. Along the city streets in this international hub of agencies, embassies, and banks, the mail carriers navigate their scooters, overloaded with enormous yellow bundles of mail past the World Health Organization headquarters, the International Red Cross, United Nations, and many more.
On a perfect September afternoon last year, I didn’t feel like parasailing. Instead, I found the Geneva Botanic Garden with stunning views overlooking Lake Geneva, the largest glacial lake in Europe.
A sloping hillside of summer flowers in oranges and yellows planted in a ribbon contrasted with the lake’s brilliant blue.
People-watching in this international city could occupy an afternoon. Lake Geneva is a popular place to be.
Gardens offer bonus surprises beyond the grand views and interesting plants, and this garden delivered.
A Victorian-era double-decker carousel was spinning round and round, attracting excited children who were not interested in the lake. Imagine you are five years old and you have a chance to ride on a leaping, flying frog, a high stepping stork or a red lobster; how would you choose? The two tiers of the carousel spin in opposite directions, and the fascinating mix of animated characters makes for quite a show. Dazzling.
Lake Geneva’s shoreline extends far beyond the city of Geneva, bordering other well-known cities of Luzern and Montreux. An exceptionally comfortable and convenient ferry system travels the lake to take you wherever you want to go. From the ferry, you can enjoy the views of the vineyards along the lake, watch the trains run by, and fantasize about life here in the Alps with an endless supply of delicious cheeses, local wine, and the best bread I’ve found anywhere.
We took the ferry to Montreux, located on the northeast shore at the foot of the Alps. Since Roman times, there has been a settlement here, and it is a very exclusive address still today.
The Montreux jazz festival is an international phenomenon annually (though not in 2020) celebrating music since 1967. A bronze sculpture of Freddie Mercury of Queen is a highlight for many visitors.
In September, the flowers were glorious. It seems the national flower of Switzerland should be the red geranium as they are found everywhere, but it is instead Edelweiss, a short, fuzzy shrub growing only at the higher altitudes with a star shape cluster bloom. Known to most of us only through the very hummable song from the Sound of Music, it has little to offer in a garden. It also has a controversial history as it was said to be Adolf Hitler’s favorite flower, symbolizing purity in noble white.
Montreux has the most beautiful lakeside walk I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing with the most remarkable combinations of flowers in bloom.
We arrived here at the golden hour, that time of day just before sunset when the light is soft and colorful. The walk is punctuated with sculptures against the backdrop of the lake.
The lakeside walk is a work of art with flowers, sculptures, and ice cream shops. Since I’m not able to travel now because of the virus, I am happy to share these memories with you, and I hope you will join me in having an ice cream. They have really happy cows in Switzerland.