Wednesday, February 09, 2011

1. Geneva

For the journey from Graz, I decided to take the train during the day (which would serve as a comparison later for the journey by night train). Didn't end up sleeping very much at all and I wasn't feeling my best due to battling this crazy chest cold, before my 5:45am departure on a train bound for Frankfurt. The train wound its way through some beautiful snowy Austrian countryside before arriving at Salzburg. I enjoyed this in my dazed state.


Transferred there for the longest leg to Zürich, where I got chatted up by some really outgoing retirees from the US and Austria. They were totally cool ladies. The Zürich to Geneva leg was comparatively short and I arrived with enough time to check into my hotel, get myself together, and head to the informal mixer of Lift conference attendees.


Geneva. I have concluded that cities like this are the reason I went to school. Finally, all those years slaving away at textbook French in high school seemed to come to fruition, because I certainly did not practice French living in Vancouver, nor had I spent enough time in Central Canada to pick up the type of French spoken there. Maybe I was just thrilled I even understood anything and was able to communicate at some intuitive level deep, deeep down. Familiarity with German was just a cool addition to the whole Swiss Geneva United Nations atmosphere. French is definitely the default language in the majority of everyday transactions there though, so kiddies, stay in school! It's worth it.


The hotels in Geneva generally give guests a complimentary public transit pass for the duration of their stay, which is super nice. I was able to take the tram directly from the central station Cornavin to the United Nations area, where the conference took place (CICG) each day, including the trip to CERN on my last day, which is quite far from the city centre.


My stay in Geneva was all too brief with regretfully minimal sightseeing (usual for conferences), but I think it's safe to assume I'll be back. It's central, there are a wide range of interesting things going on at either end of the spectrum (not the least of which are politics), and I can say that I love the Swiss train system. Took the train back from Geneva to Zürich, where the transition from French to German occurred when I was poked awake by the conductor asking for my passes. Then, a direct Zürich to Graz night train, where I slept more in my cabin than I had the previous 2 weeks. I ate my breakfast, chatting in the dark with my cabin-mate, and watched the sun rise as the train pulled into Graz at 7am.


Next up: the Lift 11 conference.

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