The upside (sometimes the downside) of living in Geneva is that you get many many visitors. These people are known as Temporary Tourists and are usually delighted by our little city.
Normally they pop off into the sunny streets, enjoying the lake (Bains des Paquis), the views (Mont Blanc), and the al fresco sophisticated city-sidewalk dining. They gather back in the countryside for an evening BBQ, stories, and reminiscences. It’s lovely.
However, this June in Geneva the swimming pools have been cold and depressing, Mont Blanc foggily lugubrious, and the sidewalk cafés damp and dismal. Alternative plans have had to be made; here are the results.
- First of all, find a hole in the clouds and go up the Salève. Delightful (perhaps fleeting) views of Geneva and the lake surprise and delight. Note: the Mont Blanc massif will be completely invisible, but you can ask your tourists to stand very still and see if they can hear the glaciers cracking.
- Find a lakeside restaurant, and, in the pouring rain, ply them with perch fillets and white wine. This is a game-changer as they are so grateful to be inside rather than out, and dry rather than wet, they begin coo-ing at the subtle manifestations of the colour grey over the lake and the motionful multi-layered clouds.
- Go to a Sunday market and buy one of every sort of cheese and mountain sausage that you can find. If you take umbrellas with you, it usually does not rain during this activity. Come home and enjoy a cheesy lunch on the sheltered back porch with delicious unpasteurized products that they moan that they just cannot get “back home”.
- Drive over to Lavaux on the way to the Chateau de Chillon. At one point, the fog will possibly blow away and the sight over the grape fields in their little stone encasements tumbling down to the lake (a UNESCO world heritage site) will seduce them completely and they will immediately forget their Burger King Lunch with its complementary Whoop Swiss red cardboard crown.
- Next day is serious shopping day. In bad weather Manor is the ultimate one-stop place for this: watches, knives and chocolate all under one big solid dry roof. Note: don’t even mention the Geneva Fountain as it’s been turned off.
- Then comes Geneva History Day—Maison Tavel (the model of the city) and St Peter’s Cathedral (the tower climb and the Chapel of the Maccabees). This can include such delightful impromptu events as two Geneva policemen herding a mother duck with her four little ducklings down the Grand Rue towards the lake, or a trio of swarthy Spanish troubadours singing their hearts out on the tram.
- The last day is when the faulty watches have to be returned, last minute Swiss army knife purchases made, and the mountain chalet with its smashed walls (don’t ask) thoroughly examined and marvelled over.
My muddy-but-happy tourists have left with their wet shoes packed in plastic bags. They report to be safely back home in Canada, but, unfortunately, it’s far too hot and sunny for a cheese fondue.