Working for one of the world’s largest PR agencies has led to some amazing opportunities and trips (e.g. visiting some of the manliest cities in the US and moving to London). As someone that loves to explore, an itinerary packed with meetings or events requires me to embrace my small windows of free time.
A little over a week ago my schedule took me to Lausanne, Switzerland and the trip was a great opportunity to test my resourcefulness.
Flying from London to Switzerland is a relatively easy process (only 1:35 flight from Heathrow), and your ticket to exploration starts before your leave the terminal. I didn’t see it but a colleague informed me for future trips that there is a place in the terminal that dispenses temporary Geneva transportation passes valid for up to 80 minutes. I don’t think the ticket allows you to go beyond the city limits, but it will definitely get you to the city’s main train station (only 7 minutes away) and onto the city tram from there.
During my night in Geneva, I stayed at the Hotel Epsom which is about two hundred meters away from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Lake Geneva’s wrap around walkway. The interior of the hotel is modern, chic and a great space for business travelers. The free Wi-Fi, late night bar, in-room Nespresso machine and welcome fruit platter were great touches that any traveler would appreciate.
After leaving the hotel and passing the UN’s Human Rights HQ, walking along the lake’s river path is a wonderful place to relax and people watch with a view of the city in the background. If you follow the path towards the city center and Mont-Blanc Bridge, it leads you to Bains Des Paquis – a public spa and restaurant with a 360 degree view of the city and a lighthouse at the end of the point.
As a glimmer towards summer, the spa’s restaurant and bar were already filled with people enjoying the brisk evening. With such a short period to explore, I had to move on, but if you visit Geneva during the summer, this looks like the place to be for sun and fun.
The Old Town
En route to Old Town, the Mont-Blanc Bridge takes visitors from the north bank and delivers them to the English Garden, Jardin Anglais, which is known for its massive flower clock – a landmark to commemorate the city’s rich heritage with the watch industry. Beyond the clock and garden, Geneva’s Old Town is a pedestrian zone featuring a maze of antique shops, luxury stores and memorable restaurants.
As the sunset, my focus transitioned to dinner and returning to the hotel for a night cap with my colleague, but there’s so much left to explore… Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
What to visit next time…
City Hall – a great example of 16th century architecture, the building supposedly holds a paved ramp that allowed mounted horsemen to go up three stories without dismounting.
European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) – a bit on the nerdy side, the CERN laboratory is home to the world’s particle accelerator and scientists trying to recreate the Big Bang.
Grand Theatre & Opera House – influenced by the Paris Opera, the building dates back to 1879 and is the focal point of Geneva’s musical life.
Palais des Nations – with a view of the lake, this area is home to the League of Nations building and the European UN headquarters.
St. Peter’s Basilica and its archeological site – built on top of a hill, the only original features in this 12th century Romanesque cathedral are the stain glass windows. (Note: During the 16th century Reformation, the interior walls were whitewashed and the ornaments were removed.)