HOW TO SPEND AN EPIC 48 HOURS IN STUNNING SWITZERLAND (PART ONE)
Welcome to a winter wonderland & Country Number Thirteen. First stop Geneva!
CROSSING OVER THE BORDER
Hello, and welcome to my post on how to spend 48-hours in Switzerland. I didn’t really know much about this country before I arrived. I’d tried Swiss chocolate when I was seven, and it was delicious, loved Cuckoo Clocks, and I’d seen it’s epic scenery in magazines and on TV, but it was never really at the top of my bucket list. But that all changed upon my visit here. One day I’ll get to go back, but for now I just have my wonderful memories of this fairy tail-like country. Read on to find out How I Spent 48-hours in Switzerland. Oh, and one more thing, this is part of of a three-part post, so look out for part two in the future.
My Switzerland adventures began around halfway through my honeymoon coach tour of Western Europe. We had departed early that morning, and passing over the border from France meant that I was now entering my thirteenth country. An unlucky number for some, but definitely not for me! We arrived in Geneva around lunchtime, and I was immediately taken with the absolutely epic scenery. The lush green forests, dramatic snow-capped mountains and bright blue lakes all make for impressive Instagram photos, and the little villages look like something straight from a storybook. Despite being a destination that tourists can visit all year round, I was excited to be visiting during autumn so I could witness the stunning Swiss landscape changing colour right before my eyes. Coach tours run on a tight schedule, so we only had around two-and-a-half hours here before heading off to Wildersvile for the next two nights. I was just bursting with excitement to get off the coach and start exploring.
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OUR ADVENTURE BEGINS
We finally departed the coach, and so began our epic 48 hours in Switzerland. This was a time when mobile phone data was a precious commodity, so with no map or internet service, my husband and I set off on foot, relying solely on our wits to aid us in our travels. We thought it would be best to initially follow the crowd into what seemed like a busy part of town. We needed to find a place to get some money changed, which was our top priority, but as you would expect, the first shops we came across dealt strictly in cuckoo clocks, Swiss-army knives, and some of the most delicious chocolate I’ve ever seen! Although I’ve always liked them, I’ve never wanted a cuckoo clock as much as I did when I was here! The only thing that puts me off buying one is knowing that one night it will wake me up at three o’clock in the morning and frighten the life out of me with its little, ‘Cuckoo, Cuckoo,’ noise.
As we made our way further into town, we found a money exchange place pretty quickly. I really enjoyed the brightly coloured banknotes, as they reminded me of Australian notes due to their vibrant colours. They were much more fun to carry than my boring Euros. Next on our list was to find some cheap, yet delicious, Swiss food. Preferably something that involved copious amounts of cheese. It wasn’t long before we came across a street vendor selling some kind of flat pastry filled with lots of the yummy gooey stuff. Now I really felt like I was in Switzerland. Oh, and the cold! Let’s not forget how cold it was, but experiencing the crazy Swiss weather only adds to the experience.
We walked and ate while admiring the Genevan architecture until we happened upon Le Jardin des Alpes Geneve (Garden of the Alps), home to the stunning neo-gothic Brunswick Monument. It reminded me of a medieval church tower, yet instead of the typical darker colours associated with this period, the structure was made from white and stone-coloured marble. It was beautiful. In front of it were manicured gardens which were home to artistic patterns that had been created with different coloured flowers. I was suddenly reminded of the one item I desperately wanted to try and find in Geneva that day – The Flower Clock! What’s the flower clock? It’s exactly just that. A large outdoor clock, with its face made from around 6,500 flowering plants and shrubs, which are changed throughout the year. I first saw it on TV in the UK, and I fell in love with it straight away.
Our stroll continued across the Pont du Mont-Blanc, an attractive bridge that takes you over the huge Lake Geneva. We stopped about halfway across to admire the Jet d’Eau (Water Jet), which you won’t be able to miss, as it’s Geneva’s most prominent landmark. It’s one of the tallest water fountains in the world. The story behind it, though, is quite unremarkable. Built in 1886, its original purpose was to control and release excess pressure that had come from the La Coulouvrebiere (Hydraulic Plant). It soon became a symbol of the city and eventually was relocated to the centre of the lake, with the jet now soaring to even higher heights.
OUR HUNT FOR THE FLOWER CLOCK
After reaching the other side, we arrived at the Genève Jardin Anglais (Geneva English Garden) to try and find my Flower Clock. We toured the small but lovely gardens, where we saw the beautiful Fountain des Quatre-Saisons (Fountain of the Four Seasons), with its water jets and statues, as well as some more stunning views of Lake Geneva and the jet stream. The Swiss really do like spraying water! Once we’d walked through the gardens, I realised that I hadn’t seen my clock. I was gutted. Maybe it was just a temporary exhibit and was no longer here anymore? With only a short time in the city, we had to crack on and do some more exploring.
EXPLORING THE PRETTY STREETS
As we continued to traverse the streets, I suddenly realised we’d entered a somewhat upmarket area. All the shops had become high-end luxury retailers, the most noticeable of which was the Rolex watch store. If only… But we did still enjoy doing a spot of window shopping. It was at this point that we spotted a cathedral in the distance on top of a hill, so we decided to walk up and check it out. We learned that it was somewhat of a famous landmark called Cathedale de Saint-Pierre (Cathedral of Saint-Pierre). The church had some stunning features, including rose windows and a beautiful, pillared entrance. As we were tight on time, we opted not to look within, but we did manage to glimpse some gorgeous white sculptured flowers and a blue coffered ceiling. I will definitely be sure to head inside if I ever make it back to Geneva.
WE FOUND IT BY ACCIDENT
It was now time for Zac and me to have our daily argument where he says it’s time to go back to the coach, and I explain to him that we still have time to take 400 more photos while walking back at a slower than usual pace. Since we were already cutting it so fine due to our walk up to the cathedral, we were bickering with each other a little more intensely than usual as we made our way back down through the pretty medieval-style streets. We were so absorbed in our argument that we both nearly walked past my amazing Flower Clock, which Zac luckily spotted on the other side of the road from where we were stood! It was just as awesome as it was on when I saw it on TV. Looking back, I would say that yes, I’m still comfortable with the fact I risked my life by running across several lanes of busy city traffic, just to get a few close-up photos! After all that, we still made it back to the coach with a few minutes to spare, and, for once, we weren’t the last ones on board!
Before saying goodbye to the lovely city of Geneva, our tour guides drove us to the Broken Chair Monument. I instantly loved this statue. One of the chair legs looks as though it’s been snapped off, and you will look at it, almost scratching your head as to how it can actually stand up straight! I walked underneath it a few times, and I couldn’t figure it out. With its broken leg, the Big Chair is said to represent those who have been mutilated by landmines in war-ravaged countries. It was created by Handicap International to raise awareness and public opinion, with the ultimate goal of banning anti-personal mines. Its placement is quite significant as it’s situated opposite the United Nations building. I’d seen this building about a billion times on TV before, so it was great to finally be able to see it in person. The structure itself is well known for its art deco design, but the most iconic part for me is the flagpole-lined avenue leading up to the entrance, where every country is represented.
Back at the chair, you’ll find a square that has more jetted water shooting up in the air at cleverly timed intervals behind the sculpture, which makes for a rather pretty photo opportunity if you’re quick with your camera. Some daredevils on our tour had taken to running across the square, seeing if they could make it to the other side without getting wet! I looked on in horror, as it was pretty cold, and being autumn, there was no chance I’d be running through it!
BYE BYE GENEVA, HELLO NEXT ADVENTURE
Sadly, our few hours in Geneva had come to an end. Still, I was pretty excited to head to our next destination, Wildersvil. Even the drive didn’t bother me as it simply meant two hours of being surrounded by stunning scenery and fairy-tale villages, my idea of heaven! Although, I still remember falling asleep at one point as we started winding down from our whirlwind afternoon.
Thanks for reading my post on How To Spend an epic 48 hours in stunning Switzerland, with my first stop being a whirlwind visit to Geneva. This post is the first in a three-part series, so keep a look out for number two and three in the future. Despite only having a very short time here, I really enjoyed my time in this Swiss city. With the beautiful lake running through the city, and having the sun shinning as a pretty backdrop, it really did help to show off Geneva in it’s best light. There’s also lots more to see and do here, such as galleries and museums, as well as exploring more of the lovely medieval side streets. Also, we didn’t have long to check out the foodie scene either, other than eating a yummy cheese pasty, so I would love to spend more time here, and sampling the delights that Switzerland has to offer. Have you been to Geneva before? Where would you recommend I visited on my next visit? Let me know in the comments section below.
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