Celebrate in Geneva

Geneva’s sincere global air, urban population, historic sites and striking Gothic architecture nestled in a peaceful and picturesque setting around a mystical lake make the ‘Capital of Peace’ a place you would want to live forever. .

There is a lot more to Geneva besides fondue and chocolates. There is the picturesque Lake Geneva, just a glimpse of the countless spectacular natural panoramas that you can discover in Switzerland. There’s the pretty old town, its winding lanes leading to art galleries, discreet leafy parks and cozy cafes.

SPECTACULAR VIEWS
Buried in a valley at the western end of Switzerland, Geneva is a peaceful setting for a slow-paced holiday. Also in the 1800s, Geneva used hydroelectric power. They built a waterworks and recycled water from the lake and river to power machines to make watches and chocolate. When the shops were closed in the evening or on holidays, the current increased and required a plug. Engineers diverted the water into a jet that shot through the air similar to a geyser. Today this Jet is a flagrant element of the Geneva landscape. It is higher than Big Ben or the Leaning Tower of Pisa and is lit every morning by hand by a guard at 9am sharp, according to a precise Swiss watch, but of course! Lake Geneva is so striking to behold. At first glance, it has an unmistakable swirling look with thrilling shades of aqua, blue and green. Seriously spectacular. This is because the glacier waters of the French Alps are bright turquoise and flow directly into the deep blue waters of the Rhone, which is fed by the lake. The two colors mix and give the lake an incredible moiré effect! Visitors to Geneva always book a hotel with a view of this breathtaking lake and the Jet d’Eau. Geneva is an awe-inspiring city that boasts of an opulent history, stunning scenery, and several wonderful places to stay. It was in one of those hotels where I had booked my stay. Can you imagine that the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues was the first hotel to open not only in Geneva, but in all of Switzerland, in 1834?. The grand luxury hotel is located on the shores of Lake Geneva and it is best to stay in a lake view room or suite offering spectacular views.

St. Peter’s Cathedral.

LUXURY WATCHMAKING
In the 1500s, when Martin Luther began the Protestant Restructuring, John Calvin (an important part of the Reformation), moved to Geneva and became a leader of the movement. All art was disconnected from the churches to focus exclusively on the scriptures. Jewelry and extravagant displays of wealth were also prohibited. Watches were considered practical, however, so they were still allowed and were now the only way for Genevans to show off their prosperity. The old jewelers turned to watch making and thus launched the luxury watch industry in Geneva. Book yourself a half-day workshop at ‘Intium’ to understand the anonymities of watchmaking, a congenital know-how that over the years has become indistinguishable with this country. With screwdrivers and tweezers in hand, under the supervision of a master observer, it feels completely professional. The thrill of seeing the beating heart of a watch you have assembled come to life is unparalleled and provides access to the obscurities of a motorized gauge. What if you want to buy a Rolex in Geneva? Bucherer jewelry is your best option.

Rupali Dean on her balcony at the Four Seasons.

GET AROUND
Buy a Geneva Pass! It will allow you to visit more than fifty attractions and will also give you access to free public transport! Discover the Palais des Nations which houses the United Nations Office, but with a guide. ID is required for most tours, so have your passport ready! Strolling through the old town will allow you to see everything from a magnificent cathedral to a range of rare art galleries. Stopping and taking photos of La Place du Bourg-de-Four, Saint-Pierre Cathedral, the Old Arsenal and Maison Tavel is highly recommended. A trip to Geneva would be incomplete without spending a few hours exploring Lake Geneva. You can rent a paddle board, go kayaking or buy a fishing license. If you have some free time, you absolutely must go paragliding in Geneva! What better way to see a beautiful city than from the sky?

FROM MICHELIN CATERING
Geneva’s cobblestone streets are dotted with outdoor cafes and independent boutiques, while the city’s more multicultural sections are packed with high-end brands and chic restaurants. Luxury seating attracts consumers as outstanding orchestras play inside Victoria Hall. Even fine dining here is a well thought out art. One look at the medieval building of the Domaine de Châteauvieux located in Satigny, in the canton of Geneva, and one instantly feels its history. Here, we offer new French dishes. Philippe Chevrier, owner and chef has two Michelin stars to his credit. The experience of having a tasting menu entirely made up of local products, including the wines, is what makes it unique. Il Lago, the Four Seasons’ Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in elegant frescoed rooms on the ground floor, is a pronounced café during the day that transforms into an elegant restaurant with stimulating cocktails in the evening and also serves the breakfast and brunch, his goal is to create cool in Geneva. Chef Massimilano Sena happily offers a varied and original Italian cuisine. Remember to bring your vaccination record and your passport to enter a catering establishment in Geneva.

Our decadent Italian entrée at II Lago Restaurant at the Four Seasons.

TRANSPORT IN SWITZERLAND
For a comfortable trip through Switzerland, buy a unique all-in-one 1st class Swiss Travel Pass that allows you unlimited train, bus and boat travel. Public transport in more than 90 cities and towns; Including mountain excursions: Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos. Free admission to more than 500 museums throughout Switzerland. Download these two free information apps for your journey: the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland app and the Swiss Travel Guide app

LANGUAGE, CURRENCY, MOBILE AND TIME ZONE
The language spoken in Geneva is French. But English is widely understood and spoken. The currency is CHF and one CHF equals 81 INR. Phone cards can be bought at the station and some come with unlimited data. However, WiFi is readily available in most public places. India is 4 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Geneva.

TRAVELING IN THE TIME OF COVID
If you are fully vaccinated with Covishield & Covaxin or any other vaccine approved by the WHO (second dose 15 days before the trip), you can travel to Switzerland. Please complete the form before departure https://swissplf.admin.ch/formular. Don’t forget to pack N95 masks and sanitizer for your flight.
A negative Covid report is required before boarding the return flight to India, so the test must be taken in Switzerland and the report uploaded online on the airport authority’s Air Suvidha website, someday before the journey. Obtaining an RTPCR test is also mandatory upon arrival. This author took two Covid tests in three days, one in India and one in Switzerland.
Rupali Dean is a well-known food and travel writer based in Delhi.