View from our hike near Beauregard-Baret, France.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Saint-Côme-et-Maruéjols, France.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Towards Andorra.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

It was a great day in Geneva, up until...

A few stories to tell you today!

The letter we are waiting for still hasn't arrived (!!), so we decided to go into the city of Geneva just for something to do. Also, we had one more of my dad's photos to match up there.

My cousin's daughter Tehya's house is in the village of Versonnex, in France but walking distance to the border of Switzerland, and in total about 12 kms (7.5 miles) from the center of Geneva.

There is a direct local bus that goes from a nearby road, but it's not that easy to walk to the stop so Tehya volunteered to give us a drive over there.

View from the bus stop. 

Here is a map of where we are located just to give you some perspective...

We are staying at the red dot.

So, the bus arrives, and we try to pay the driver, but he motions towards the back of the bus and says we have to use the machine.

So we stand there trying to figure out the machine. It's done by touch screen, and the first thing I did was to change the language to English. But it's still very confusing, with payment options for different zones, but nowhere does the system tell you which zone you might be going to. We eventually asked a young guy for help, and he got us the right ticket. I tried to watch what he was doing, but the first thing he did was to change it back to French, so it was a bit tough to follow. 

Cost was €2.70 ($3.75 CAD, $2.80 USD) each, and I paid by tapping my Visa card and the machine spit out a receipt.

About 50 minutes later we arrived at the train station in downtown Geneva. The weather was kind of iffy, and they were calling for showers. But it wasn't raining yet so we figured the first thing we would do is try to match up that photo.

Geneva 1954.

We don't know why, but this is the only photo he took in Geneva. He had the name of the boat written on the slide... the Paddle Steamer, MPV Geneve. We figured the actual dock would be long gone, and the boat might be as well. But based on the buildings on the opposite side of the lake we figured out where we could stand in the same spot that he might have stood to take the photo.

Geneva 2022.

But I did some research of the name of the boat and it turns out that it is docked on the opposite side. It's not used as a ferry any longer, it's used for parties and corporate events.

We found the same boat!

Side view of the MPV Geneve.

So, with that done, we went to do some exploring of the city.

The Brunswick Monument.

Kevin, with the famous Geneva fountain.

Scenery along the way.

We came across the Geneva Christmas market.

It was kind of odd, because although everything was open, there was nobody around. It's probably busiest evenings and weekends.


The Canada booth.

It was actually more of a Quebec booth than a Canada booth. It was actually a bit odd, because there were no other country specific booths.



Officially called Le Jet d'Eau de Genève.
The Water Jet of Geneva.

Originally, the famous fountain was actually a safety pressure release valve for a hydraulic power system. But when that was dismantled in 1891, they built a pump and fountain just because people missed the fountain. It has now been there for over 130 years. 

500 liters (130 US gallons) of water per second is flowing through the pumps, and are jetted 140 meters (460 ft) into the air. The pumps are electric, and cost a half million Swiss Francs per year to operate. 

But there is lots of money in Switzerland.

Scenery on the south shore.





Bentley GT Convertible.
Starting at about $240,000 USD.
Did I mention there is lots of money in Switzerland?

Notice Ruth in the background. What is she doing? Well, reaching down to pet a cat, of course!

We wandered up to the old section of town to the cathedral. 

It's really hard to get an overall photo of the building itself.

The front of the cathedral.

We came across a model of it to give you a better idea.

Geneva's St. Peter's Cathedral was built between 1150 and 1230. Archeological excavations in the 1970's revealed another 1,000 years of history beneath the cathedral itself with Roman floors and walls and coins. 

You can access the site, but it costs 8 CHF ($11.30 CAD, $8.50 USD) each, so we took a pass on that.

To visit the cathedral itself is free.

The organ looks fairly modern, in fact it was installed in 1965.

Beautiful stained glass in the Chapel of the Maccabees.

From there, we went to the Tavel House Museum, a free city history museum that is located in the oldest residential building in Geneva. 

Tavel House, built in 1335.

Ruth, trying on some armor.

Street view outside Tavel House.
Notice the ornamental heads on the wall on the right.


The original heads were brought inside because they were starting to deteriorate.
The ones on the outside wall are reproductions.

Fantastic model of the city as it would have looked in 1850 before the removal of the fortifications.

It was getting time to where we should be starting to think about getting back home. But we had some money to spend.

Remember when we were at the Montreux Christmas market with Yves and Katja? I ended up with 7 Swiss francs in my pocket as a refund on the deposit I had paid for the glasses when we had that hot wine drink. And it was all in coins, so we might as well spend it. 

Swiss city tram system.

Another view of the fountain.

Ruth figured we should try some expensive Swiss chocolate, so we popped into a Läderach Swiss chocolate shop. 

Yum!

'Tis the season.

This box of chocolates costs 58 francs ($82 CAD, $61.50 USD).

So we said to the girl "you are going to laugh, but we have to spend 7 francs ($9.90 CAD, $7.40 USD). Can we choose a few loose chocolates, and you can tell us when to stop?"

So we chose 4 chocolates, and she said "that's enough". LOL... Too funny.

Our goodies.

Yes, four little chocolates.

Oh well, sometimes you have to splurge in life! My hazelnut one was good, but I wasn't overly impressed with the rum one. Ruth says hers were good, but not anything spectacular. Tehya says that the lower priced Lindt Swiss chocolates are a better deal.

And then it was time to hop on the bus. We went back to the train station which was the end of the bus line when we arrived, but do you think we could find where the bus departs from to go back? The bus route we were looking for was route "F". Google maps listed the route perfectly, but where it said to get on the bus simply didn't exist as a stop. 

We ended up doing a fairly short walk to the next stop where we actually found a bus stop marked "F".

So the bus arrives, and we get on. We knew the drill to go to the back and use the machine, but do you think we could figure out which ticket option to choose? I ended up picking the one that said "all of Geneva", and it was a slightly higher cost than the one we had paid for arriving. 

So we paid €3 instead of €2.70, but at least we had paid. I stuffed the ticket in my pocket and off we went.

But then we noticed on the destination screen that the bus wasn't going quite as far as we wanted to go. No worries, we just figured we would get off at the end, and connect to the other "F" route bus. It turns out that there are two. They follow the same route, but one goes further than the other.

So we get to the last stop, and get ready to disembark. 

But as we're doing so, we see an army of bus inspectors (like maybe 8 people) swarm the exit doors and block people from leaving while they check tickets. 

I happily produce my ticket, and the guy immediately says "oh, this isn't right", and he proceeds to get out his fine book and asks for my passport. Of course, we argue that we have the ticket and have paid the required fare. Even though we didn't choose the right option, the fare itself was paid. In fact, more than. But he was adamant. We had to pay a fine.

So we kept arguing, and we're still on the bus because they had the doors blocked. So the bus couldn't leave while this was happening. Eventually, an older inspector intervenes, and his English was actually a little better. He hears our story, and says okay, we will only charge you one fine instead of two.

But we're still adamant that we're not paying anything. Eventually though, I realize that they are also adamant, and they threated to call the police. And they say that if they have to call the police, the fine will increase by €150. (We have no idea how much the original fine was going to be).

This was all reminiscent of the time we were using the public bus in Bucharest and ended up paying a fine.

I get it... we did not have the correct ticket. So technically, yes we were in the wrong. But rules are made to be enforced with some common sense, and it was obvious that we had tried to do the right things, and ultimately we had in fact paid the fare... we just didn't buy the correct ticket. On top of that, we are tourists who have never used the system, and it's not easy to understand, with no guidance as to how to use the system.

By this time, three or four other inspectors had gathered around and even though I was still arguing, I handed over my passport. At this point, they let us leave the bus, and we all walked over to a nearby shelter where there were some other people waiting as well.

The guy opens his fine book again, but we are still arguing, saying that it's not right. They know that we tried to do the right thing. As we are arguing, a lady standing near me tries to grab my arm, and falls to the ground! She's a fairly big woman, and would have been difficult to catch. But it all happened so quickly, I didn't quite know what was going on. I actually thought she was trying to attack me at first, and checked for my wallet. There are signs everywhere warning of pickpockets trying to distract you. She lands on the ground, and Ruth and one of the the female inspectors try to give some assistance. Eventually, she came to, and they helped her to a bench. While all of this is going on, it was a bit of a circus. Some of the inspectors were on their phones calling emergency. 

The woman says she is okay. Just fainted, I guess. Things settle down, and I went back over to the guy who was going to write the fine. It was a very odd moment, but he looked at me, didn't say a word, and held out my passport. I took it, and said "We can go?" He said "Yes". I said "Thank you", and shook his hand.

And that was that. No fine! I guess he figured we had had enough. We headed off quickly before they got a chance to change their minds!

Now the problem was that we were still 5 kms (3 miles) from home. And I didn't want to take a bus, because we were going to have to go through the whole circus again... we still didn't know which ticket to buy!

So we walked. It turned out to be a nice walk through a forest path, part of which followed the border. It was raining, but not hard.

Walking home on the border. 
France on the left, Switzerland on the right.

What a day. Just another travel adventure!

And so we are still waiting for our letter. The latest tracking update from Tuesday says "Your item has arrived in France and is transiting through our logistics platforms to be delivered to you as quickly as possible.".

We are pretty much stuck here until it arrives.

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And in Canada...

4 comments:

  1. My first thought she somehow fell to diffuse the situation, but then I wondered if someone else got pick pocketed in the melee? :)

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    Replies
    1. That thought had crossed my mind as well but we honestly think it was legit but yeah it would have been a good time for someone else be pickpocketed, at least it wasn't us.

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  2. Wow, what a crazy adventure. Really glad you didn't have to pay the fine. Reminds me of the time we got scammed in Mexico and had to pay a large departure fee to get back to Belize, where we lived. There wasn't supposed to be a fee if you just came for the day, but the official was NOT going to let us get on the ferry until we paid, and it was not cheap. We even had to go to a nearby bank to pay it, as there was no way to pay it directly at the ferry terminal. We were so pissed we weren't sure we would ever visit Mexico again. But of course we did and ended up living there for nearly 2.5 years. Things can be crazy at the border, though, with rules changing willy-nilly, and they do try to take advantage of tourists at times.

    Good job with matching the photo and even finding the same boat - amazing!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, that would have been frustrating. I know that we have crossed the border from the US into Mexico just for the day and never had a problem and yeah, I thought it was the same going from Belize to Mexico. That's a shame that you had to pay a fine for that. As you said, they sometimes take advantage of the tourists.

      We always have fun matching up Kevin's dad's pictures and this time was not different, although it took a little more research to find the exact spot where we think the picture was taken and we are pretty sure that we got it right, it was just a shame that the ship wasn't in the same spot.

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