Posted on 10-07-2007
Filed Under (Switzerland, Disaster, People, Adventure) by admin

Well, I am writing this sitting on the cold marble floor of an underground metro-shopping mall in Geneva at 1:30 am… But we’ll get to that in just a bit.

I haven’t really mentioned it, but Sam had been pretty down about this whole thing since the mugging, and has been wanting to go home pretty badly. Finally, even though she got back her bag, she decided to go back to the US.

We got her flight booked last night and, this morning, went with her to the subway that would take her to the airport. It was sad to see her go, but it was definitely what she wanted…

And then there were three.

So, Mike, Hayley and I have been trying to figure out where we’d go next. Geneva was next on our original itinerary, but we decided to try to get to Interlocken first.

We had some time to spare, though, before heading out so we decided to do a quick run through some of the sites in Paris. We checked out Notre Dame, then did what I realllly came to Paris for…

We had a delicious meal at Le Relais de L’Entrecote… My favorite restaurant in the world. I was a bit nervous about going there though; it is a fairly fancy restaurant and we were dirty, in old clothes and carrying huge packs… I really just expected to be shunned away.

But, we walked in, I asked if we could have a table for three in French, and they gladly seated us. Not only that, but they found us a spot to put our packs out of the way and a group of waitresses came over and tried to lift them up and joked around with us.

I’ve said it a few times already, but the extent that people go out of their way to be helpful and friendly here is astounding… Especially in a place like Paris that is stereo-typed to be snobby and anti-american.

Anyway, at L’Entrecote, there is no menu. You sit down, and they immediately bring you their salad to start, which has walnuts and a delicious dressing. Then, they bring a plate of their famous steak & french fries, with their secret sauce. The best part is that, soon after you’re done with you’re first serving, they bring around another serving and you can start all over!

So, the food was incredible as usual, we had wine and our waitress was a cute French girl… Life in France was finally going well. We gave her a good tip, and as we were leaving she stuck her head outside the door to thank us.

We were taking our train to Switzerland from Gare de Lyon, so the Louvre was on the way. It started drizzling on the way, but it felt good. Once there, we had to keep it quick, so we just took some pictures of the outside, hung out a bit and then continued on to the RER.

We walked for quite awhile aiming for a particular subway entrance on the map. When we finally got there, we mysteriously found no way to buy tickets. It was one of those moments that’s just like, “Whhhhat is going onnn?”

Eventually we saw a sign that said it was an entrance only for ticket holders, and that there was a ticketing station a few blocks more, so we had to continue on a little longer. We got to Gare de Lyon soon after that, at around 2:00 pm, and had to reserve tickets from Paris to Bern, and then from Bern to Interlocken.

Of course though, after speaking to a woman at the ticketing counter, we found out that all the seats on trains to Interlocken were booked until 7:00 am the next morning. We were weighing our options, and found that we could get on a train to Geneva that afternoon, so we decided to just do that.

Sitting on the ground by the ticketing area, waiting for our train, a little, 3 year old Indian boy ran over to us laughing and screaming and sat next to us. He had apparently also came over and sat on Mike’s lap while I was away getting food. He was so funny, and his 14 year old friend would come over and apologize.

This happened many times, and the 14 year old boy knew English pretty well, so we started talking with him, and playing with the 3 year old who had now brought over one of his toy cars. It was fun to talk to them in French casually, instead of in a situation where I was actually trying to accomplish something. At some point I asked how to say some word that he wasn’t sure of, so he asked his mother over, who was an English teacher in Marseille.

We spoke to her for awhile about our trip before leaving the three of them to hop on our train to Geneva. It was a really nice way to close out our experience in Paris.

The train ride was beautiful, so we were looking forward to moving out of big cities and into something a bit different. This turned out to not be at all what we got.

So far, Geneva has been by far my least favorite destination. At least in Epinaye sur Seine interesting things were going on! As soon as we got to Geneva we began looking for a place to put down our bags and relax. We knew Geneva wasn’t the most easy place to find a hostel, but figured just going to a hostel, instead of booking one online, proved to be better in the case of the guys we’d met on the way to Paris.

We walked about a mile or two to a hostel we heard was good, and found out it was completely full. So, we went to another one that was in one of Hayley’s books, but it was also full. So, we checked out a hotel that was down the street, but it was also full… So, we checked out another hotel we saw down the street some more, but it was also full…

After checking 15-20 hotels, ranging from hostels, to small hotels on backroads to large 4 star hotels, we decided it was totally hopeless… There was no where in Geneva for us to stay. Literally, no where. It was a truly surreal feeling to be searching for a place to sleep for an hour and a half, going door to door and finding absolutely nothing, no one willing to help. We were homeless.

We went back to the train station we came into and found lockers we could leave our bags. I’ve been finding my pack surprisingly comfortable to carry around considering its about 50 lbs, but no matter how comfortable it is, getting it stored away somewhere else safely being free from its straps feels incredible.

Now less weighed-down, we went back into Geneva to find something to do. We went to a bar/restaurant to eat our second meal of the day, and waited around for awhile, until I asked a waiter if we could sit down and eat. The general thoughtfulness of people between Paris and Geneva was incredible. Here, few people really seem to care at all about each other, let alone us.

When we first left the train station, we’d seen a waiting room with some chairs, the only ones in the entire train station, so we headed there. It was really difficult to find the room, so it was a relief when we finally did. About 3 minutes after I got my computer out, a Swiss police officer came into the room and told us and a few others that the train station was closing until 4:00 am, so we all had to leave.


We asked him if there was anywhere we could go, and he seemed to understand we were planning on staying in that room for the night. He asked us where we were going, and we told him Interlocken, since we wanted to get there as soon as possible. He told us there was a train there at 4:26 am, and that it would be safe for us to stay on the floor in the shopping mall below the train station until then, as long as we stayed away from corners.

We were the first in our little spot here, but since 3 others have joined us, so maybe we’ll just get a few beds and start our own hostel here… Geneva obviously needs it.

Anyway, I’ve been incredibly positive this entire trip, and I really still am… We came to figure out what parts of Europe we like and which ones we don’t like… I can safely say, I do not like Geneva at all. The people are cold and the city primarily comprised of hotels that are all full.

The trip so far seems to be filled with mistakes and challenges and lessons learned… There is definitely a secret to planning ahead so we get the train we need, and a good cheap hostel that is safely and centrally located… We’re still working hard on figuring out what exactly that is.

Anyway, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve added, by request, some of the pictures I’ve taken. Select the city/place on the left, and then click through the pictures. Clicking the thumbnail will pop up an enlarged image. Right now, you can only click through big images 8 at a time, but I’m working on changing that and some other things.

Sorry for such a long post, but I have nothing else to do and it’s nice to write about something besides muggings and police officers.




Ma on 11 July, 2007 at 9:53 am #

Nicky, did you see Nancy Heikin’s post on your mugging entry? Malcolm is in Paris now, and he could have been a great resource for you - including telling you where NOT to go. You could all have gone out together at night & Malcolm could have given you lots of ideas about where to go (Nancy said he used to get mugged all the time when he was 14 & 15, and then learned the ropes so it doesn’t happen anymore). So you might start thinking about who you know in the various countries you’re visiting. Also, I hope you’ll either check online or buy a backpackers’ guide to traveling in Europe, so you’ll know places to avoid for the rest of your trip! I’m SOOO sorry that Sam has left your adventure. Enjoy your day!

jill anyon on 28 July, 2007 at 4:32 pm #

hi sweets…i didn’t forget your birthday..glad to hear you were finally having fun…love you lots..aunt jill

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