Welcome to my first Switzerland blog post! First up, Geneva…
You may or may not know that in 2015 Euan & I spent 3 months exploring Australia and New Zealand (it was incredible). In New Zealand, we hired a car and just drove around the coastline of the South Island, stopping a various points along the way. It was the most wonderful experience, and ever since we’ve been itching to do something similar. Obviously since 2015 our lives have changed a lot, and taking 3 months ‘off’ again isn’t really a possibility. But that’s not to say we can’t experience something similar!
So, we decided to plan a trip to Switzerland. Switzerland, aesthetically, is quite like NZ so it seemed like the perfect place. Plus we have both always wanted to go. And we weren’t disappointed…
First Stop, Geneva – Day 1
Our starting point was French-speaking Geneva. Our first day was a bit of a rocky one… I won’t go into too much detail just yet, but – to sum up – if you are planning on hiring a car in Switzerland, make sure you own a credit card.
The whole trip revolved around the fact we would be driving from place to place, so having a hire car was our number 1 priority. When we went to collect our car we were asked for a credit card. As most UK residents would, I assumed this also meant debit card so willingly handed over my Visa-Debit. It, however, was not acceptable, neither was our pre-paid Swiss franc mastercard. We were told that without a physical credit card in my name, we would not be able to have our hire car. I don’t own a credit card and neither does Euan. Basically, disaster-mode had set in.
To cut a (very, very) long story short, we hopped over to the French side of Geneva airport (handy) and hired another car from a different company at a great, and unavoidable, additional expense. We were also unable to drop this new hire car in our original end location (Zurich), we had to drop it back to Geneva. This meant changing our flight, cancelling our non-refundable hotel room in Zurich, and booking another hotel in Geneva… Anyway, we managed to solve the problem and we.had.a.car! Our main priority was sorted and we were back on track for our holiday.
Because of this, we were both a little shaken up but we managed to get ourselves into Geneva’s city centre and we sat by the lake with a coffee. After some choice words about the situation, we vowed to put it behind us and just enjoy the incredible holiday ahead of us.
We had an afternoon stroll around the city and started to make plans for our second day in Geneva, before heading to our accommodation.
Geneva Day 2
A new day, a fresh perspective. By mid-morning we were back in central Geneva and had our exploring hats on. First up, we went visited the Cathedral and climbed to the North Tower which provided us with incredible panoramic views of the city. We also got to walk through the clock-tower which was very hunchback-of-Notre-Dame-esque.
I absolutely fell in love with Geneva’s old town. Narrow streets and tall buildings with beautiful shuttered windows… Perfection! There was a definite Parisian vibe in Geneva (being surrounded by France and all), but I also got a little Venice vibe too which made me all nostalgic!
There are hundreds of incredible designer shops in Geneva (we popped our heads in a few, oops!), and it was exciting to explore them. But the old town was 100% more ‘us’ and it was very romantic to just roam around the super peaceful streets.
I have to confess that we did actually go to an Italian restaurant for lunch and had our go-to Italian favourites… There was a whole week ahead of us to try Swiss cuisine…
My top tips for Geneva are…
- Grab a take-away coffee and sit on a bench in front of the lake. It’s beautiful from any direction and just a perfect spot to take it all in (and people watch, hehe).
- Spend more time in the ‘old town’ than in the main city. The centre of Geneva is much like any big city, but the old town has a certain charm that you’ll only understand if you visit!
- Visit the Cathedral and climb up to the top of the North Tower. The views were gorgeous and the Cathedral was stunning. Even if that’s not normally your kind of thing I would still suggest giving it a go! (I’m a culture nerd, by the way).
- Bring lots of money, and then bring some more. Without even looking in the designer shops, Geneva will cost you a lot of money. We were insanely prepared for the amount of money Switzerland was going to cost us, like literally everyone had told us how expensive it was. But we were still surprised by the cost of things. Honestly there is no such thing as taking ‘too much’ money on holiday to Switzerland.