After spending a day in Basel, I had seen everything there was to see in the small town. So I decided to head to Geneva this afternoon. Most of my group of backpackers had left already. Before he left, Zane gave me his Swiss SIM card, which he didn’t need anymore. It still had 12 Swiss Francs of credit left, and I could finally start using my phone.
I tried to book a hostel in Geneva online before I left Basel, but I could find nothing available. Moreover, I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to stay in Geneva and where I should go next — Marseille, France or Barcelona, Spain? If I went to Barcelona, I could take a night train all the way. If I went to Marseille, I would have to spend at least a day or two there, which would cost me that many nights of hostel fees. Finally, I decided to just go to Geneva. I would figure things out once I got there. So what if I didn’t get a room at a hostel? It was about time I slept at a train station anyway.
I arrived in Geneva late in the afternoon. I stored my backpack in a locker at the train station while I set out to hunt for a hostel. I found a tourist information booth and asked the agent to point me to the nearest youth hostel. Interestingly, while the Swiss in Basel speak a dialect of German, the ones in Geneva speak French. In southern Switzerland, the people speak Italian. There is no “native Swiss” language. Trying to talk to the information booth agent, I felt like I was back in France. The man was quite helpful though, and as soon as he figured out I was looking for a youth hostel, he told me where to go.
Walking down the avenue to where the agent had directed me, I saw a variety of people, many in their native, cultural attire. In a bout of nerdiness, I felt like I had arrived in some futuristic Star Wars-like world, and this was the capital where the representatives of all the worlds gathered. I found the International Youth Hostel on Rothschild Street. I spoke to the receptionist and a few minutes and 34 Swiss Francs later, I had a room for the night. I decided I would see how I liked the place before I booked any additional nights.
This hostel is much bigger and has a lot more people staying here. I’ve seen many Americans, most of whom appear to be high school kids. This hostel doesn’t have the cozy feel that the hostel in Basel did. The room, however, is quite nice. There are six of us in the room. I retrieved my backpack from the train station and then took off to see the city.
Roaming around the city, I ended up at the Jardin Anglais (English Garden) where the Geneva Music Festival is kicking off in a week. To warm up for the actual festival, there are free concerts every night. I walked around for a bit, checking out the scenery. The place is quite beautiful. You can see the Jet d’eau (literally, water fountain) from the gardens as it shoots up 140 meters into the air and splashes down into Lake Geneva. It’s really just a bigger version of the fountain Pepsi has at its headquarters in New York, but heck, this one’s in Switzerland.
I noticed that the park had hired people to sort through the garbage bins and separate recyclable items – glass, PET (plastic), biodegradables, and papers. Large canisters stood around the park, each marked with the type of material it was meant for, and the workers went around making sure the right type was deposited in each. What an impressive commitment to recycling!