Sunday, September 17, 2017

Swissfolk: Eclectic And Egalitarian

Landing in Geneva early on Sunday, our hosts at the Edelweiss Hotel explained that our room wasn’t quite ready, so we had time to peruse the Lake Geneva waterfront (above and below). We almost had the place to ourselves, which was great because we had arrived during the biggest summer party of the year: the Fêtes de Genève.

With most locals still in a state of slumber, we had the opportunity to examine this sleek, cosmopolitan city up close and unfettered.

The people here chatter in every language under the sun, though French predominates, and Geneva has an international flair represented by the presence of the United Nations, International Red Cross and other organizations.

As we circled the promenades lining the sparkling shores of Europe’s largest Alpine lake for two hours, the denizens of Gevena arose slowly but surely from their slumber and activity gradually blossomed in the summer sun. Returning to the Edelweiss Hotel, we focused on rest and recuperation so we could party with the locals at the evening’s festivities on the final day of the Fêtes De Genève.

Located on quiet residential square, the Hotel Edelweiss featured charming Swiss décor with well appointed rooms, just two blocks from Lake Geneva and an easy stroll to old town. Our hosts Pierre, Fanny and Maximillian were eager to help and facilitated our far-flung tours. This three star hotel could easily pass for a four star facility.

We took advantage of walking tours through the old town (right) and the United Nations complex, including the headquarters for the International Red Cross (below), provided by volunteer guides. The tours are free but tips are always welcomed, and most participants, virtually all of us tourists, accommodated our gracious and well-informed guides at the end of each tour. All had day jobs but gave tours on the side. One was a social media manager, the other a draftsman at a local architectural firm.

The old town featured a number of street vendors like Allan (below) who make their living selling exotic exports, in his case mostly women’s clothing, and I became a regular customer. A native of Geneva, Allan peddles his colorful wares locally in the summer, then sets up shop in India during the winter.

The festival was a hoot: the waterfront pulsated with a party atmosphere that was infectious. The two-week event features daily parades, open-air concerts, lakeside amusement rides and fireworks displays. Ran into a buddy of mine trying to make a few Swiss francs at the party (below). Disney would not be pleased, I’m sure.

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