TP#104: Geneva: Cars, Cathedral, and Home

Trip Start Sep 26, 2005
Trip End Jun 2006

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Monday, March 13, 2006

We woke up refreshed and ready for a day of cars and walking and whatever adventures came our way!

We had a good Swiss French breakfast of breads, juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cheeses. We checked out of our room, stashed our packs in the luggage room, and went off in search of the Geneva Car Show at the "Palexpo" near the Geneva Airport. K studied the tram/bus map and did all the navigating on this part of the trip. We were there by 9:30 am along with throngs of other people. We stayed until about half past noon (people were still streaming in), so we were glad to have been there before the largest crowds of the day.

We had fun seeing the many cars on display including concept cars, novelty cars, sports cars, and regular sedans. Of note was the absence of vans or mini-vans, so we asked about that. The market here in Switzerland for large gas-guzzlers is just not that great. We do see some vans around where we live in Zurich, but possibly that is because people bring them in from other parts of Europe.

Now we really want to go to the annual Detroit Auto Show next year! But, can we relax and take a train there?????

We left about 12:30, caught the #5 bus back past our hotel and the Gare (train station, remember now we are in the French speaking part of Switzerland) and on over the bridge to the Geneva old town. Here we walked through a park with large outdoor checkers and chess sets, and on up to the hilltop where the "center" of Geneva has been located for the past 2000 years. We had lunch outside in the sun along with other folks all bundled up in blankets provided by the local eateries in a square surrounded by history.

After finding St. Peter's Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Pierre, en Francais) we went first under the cathedral to the archaeological dig museum. It is a marvelous place and shows what they've found and how they found it. In many cases things have been left as they were found. There was a self-guided audio tour so we could all go through at our own pace. We loved it!

The use of this site for religious purposes goes back more than 1500 years. We could easily go back there and spend more time under the cathedral. It is amazing how they piece together information about the buildings on this site from the last 1700 years of Christianity. There are also archeological finds from earlier inhabitants at the site. Remarkable and fascinating!

The cathedral also has a marvelous tower that is open to the public. It was very cold as we climbed the 160+ circular steps higher and higher, but we were impressed with the beautiful sunny and clear day, and the view from the top was wonderful!

The cathedral itself has marvelous stained glass windows, and there is a tomb of a duke from around the 16th century. We learned that at 5 pm there would be an organ concert in the cathedral, but as tempted as we were to stay, we knew we had to get going in order to get everyone home in time to get up for school the next morning. Ahh, time....

On our way out through the courtyard we passed the Maison Tavel (Tavel Home), so we stopped here for a short visit. Here one can get a sense of life from several hundred years ago, but it was at the end of the day for us and our younger children had clearly developed severe cases of museum legs by now, so we did not stay long and fully appreciate what was here. Maybe next time....

Leaving Geneva by train we had the most beautiful sunny views of the lake: white caps on crisp, blue green water, and sunny, snow-streaked mountains in the background. It was breathtaking. But not long after turning away from the lake we hit snow showers, and the ground was covered with snow! The climate here is amazing!

There's still so much more we'd like to do in Geneva: visit the UN (closed weekends until April), the Red Cross Museum, the car museum, CERN, and take a boat trip on the lake. We need to come back!

For more touristy information see:

76th International Motor Show, 2-12 March 2006 (Geneva Car Show):

St. Peter's Cathedral, Geneva:

Maison Tavel:
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