Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day 63 – Sun at last!

Aha, there is a glimpse of sun, so it is time to go explore: First I had to figure out the bus and tram system, and found with some delight that there is a daily ticket good from 9 am to midnight for “only” $7. * So I jumped on the local bus, intent of seeing as much of the city as I could in one day. Highlights included: (1) Nice walks through the old little towns that have now coalesced into the grand city of Genève, with just about everyone being outside shopping at the farmers market or simply taking the sun. (2) Discovery and surprise visit to the Marche de Pouces (the flea market) of Plainpalais, where I bought six very cheap books and drooled over beautiful antique surveying instruments. (3) A dash into France. Indeed, one of the tram lines brought me to the French border, and I figured that I was too close not to take a stroll through the farmers market there. I should have bought lunch there, but I was not quite sure I wanted to deal with two sets of currency so I missed on the opportunity of having roasted duck. Quel dommage! (4) A nice walk through the Perle du Lac, a very handsome park along the shore of Lac Léman where in addition to many promenading Genevoises I also found the very interesting Museum of the History of Science.

By this time I had figured out that having unlimited access to the fabulous system of public transportation was the only way to go, so I went back home to pick up my passport and returned to downtown to buy my monthly pass for $70 (not cheap, but not expensive considering that the daily ticket is $7).

To celebrate I took a bus to the far southwest end of the city. I was having a good time playing tourist when I suddenly realized that is was quarter to six, and on the nick of time remembered that all stores are closed after six and all day Sunday. So I got down from the bus, ran to the nearest supermarket, and grabbed a few things while the lights were being turned off. Success! I will have something to eat tomorrow.

To finish the afternoon I took a bus that made a big loop through the countryside and back to the city. With the background of the snow-covered mountains the vineyards shone like gold under the setting sun, and reminded me how lucky I am to be able to visit Switzerland in this time of the year.

* The dollar and the Swiss franc are at parity right now, so its is really easy to figure out how much things cost. The conclusion is that everything here is very expensive: Newspaper $2.50, one ride in the bus $2, “cheap” fast food like a gyros sandwich $15, main courses at a restaurant $25 to $35 dollars, potato chips $5, a small to medium size cut of meat $10 to $15, a package of sausages $8, a pound of coffee $10, a six pack of beer $11, and gasoline $2 per liter or $7.50 per gallon. Ouch!

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