Monday, December 28, 2009

Geneva to Paris

From Barbara

Mom described above our experience since DC. I slept so well on the plane and was ready by the time I got to Geneva. I had zero sensation of being sleep deprived for over 30 hours. I was so excited to be in Geneva. But yeah, there was no snow. We saw lots of snow on the mountaintops, which is a good sign for my ski trip. But I was really hoping for some snow in the city. Oh well.

Travel tip:
When flying into Geneva, once you get to baggage claim, there is a big sign that has a nondescript button that will give you a free train ticket which takes you to downtown Geneva. Very helpful!

It was a really short trip to downtown and a very clean train. Everything was going so smoothly! After dropping our bags off in the locker at the train station, we had about 4 hours to run around Geneva. My main goal was to try to get my bearings so that when we come back, we have some kind of idea where to go. I needed coffee right away and we found the cutest little coffee shop called “The Cottage” ( in front of a huge monument called the Mausolee du Duc de Brusnwick, an Italian tomb on the South Bank. Mom’s posting shows the coffee shop. I was really hoping it would be my “local” for the week I’m here by myself, but they are closed from December 24th until January 14. So sad! It reminded me of Spider House in Austin or Revolution CafĂ© in San Francisco. A guy was sitting there painting peacefully and the coffee was amazing. And, they served it with a piece of amazing Swiss chocolate. PERFECT. I love you Switzerland.

We walked around a while and found some chocolate to bring back to the family and I was on the hunt for some Swiss wine. I read that there are vineyards in Geneva and they make decent wine but never export. After searching for quite a bit, we finally found the supermarket – Globus – which is actually part of huge department store like Macys or Nordstrom. The entire bottom floor is a grocery store that puts Whole Foods to shame. We bought a couple bottles of Swiss wine to bring back to the family and walked around the store a bit. Since Switzerland is German, French and Italian, you get foods from all three regions. My mouth was watering the entire time. The cheese counter alone was divided into 3 sections. Dry cheeses, Italian cheeses and French cheeses. Salami and ham was everywhere and the olive oil section was bigger than my apartment. We had to leave immediately to save our pocket books. I’ll definitely be back.

On our way, we walked by the EA European headquarters…… sigh….

Mission accomplished. Saw just a bite-sized version of Geneva so we could see more when we come back on January 2. Off to Paris and then Voves to meet the family!

I was so excited to take the train to Paris on the TGV. I’ve seen the TGV, but have never taken it. It’s one of the many high-speed trains you can take within Europe, mainly France, and I couldn’t wait. We got our tickets very early and got a window seat so we could take pictures and movies. Yeah right. When we finally got in our train, we had the “window” seat that was actually a wall. We had the seat with the window divider. Grrrr…

Anyway, I took the opportunity to take a 3-hour nap, which wasn’t so bad. We finally get to Paris at the Gare de Lyon. It’s pretty calm and there are people giving out free coffee and cookies. If you are French, you know how rare that is. The French don’t usually give anything free, but I gladly took the coffee and quickly we ran to our next train station across the bridge, Gare D’Austerlitz. Absolute chaos. This was the France I knew and expected.

My family lives in the countryside of France about an hour South of Paris in a tiny village called Ormoy. The train we needed from Austerlitz was supposed to take us to Voves, about 20 minutes from Ormoy. Some drunk 29 year old got in an accident a couple days before causing major damage on the rail tracks and caused delays for every train going south. Our train wasn’t even listed on the board. Apparently that’s how you are supposed to know it’s cancelled. No need to actually tell people that it’s cancelled. You’re just supposed to know if it’s not listed, it’s cancelled. Geez…..

It took a lot of pushing and asking to find that out. It was a mad house. For whatever reason, I thought it was funny. Mom was stressed out and running all over the place. I somehow found time to twitter and was in total vacation mode. We’ll get there somehow or another.

Our next option was to take a different train to a city a little further away from Ormoy, but still acceptable for my aunt and uncle. However, we had to go to another train station, Gare Montparnasse. This would be our third station in Paris within 1 hour. AWESOME. So, we get on the metro/subway which has no elevators and only stairs and finally get there. We easily get on this train and we finally meet my aunt, uncle and cousin Valentin. 30 minutes later, we arrive at Ormoy and have champagne, cheese, pate and salami waiting for us. My other aunt, cousins and kids surprise us and we’re finally here! Over 50 hours of traveling and I’m still not that tired. Let the champagne flow! We ended the evening with my cousin’s 5 year old daughter dancing to her new favorite singer, Michael Jackson. Fantastic!

Delicious coffee at The Cottage

Our train snack

Mom stressed in the train

Champagne welcome

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