Thursday, July 20, 2017

Geneva, Switzerland ~ Our Portal to Greece

Let’s begin by saying there are no direct flights between Seattle and Athens.  

That means for ‘commuters’ like us, we need to fly to somewhere else and then connect with another plane or airline to get the rest of the way – traveling in either direction.

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The Jet D'Eau, Geneva's landmark shoots water 140 meters into the air
And we can thank that routing dilemma for introducing us to Geneva, Switzerland this year.

What I didn’t know about Geneva before going there:

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Geneva's most famous clock

* A walk down Geneva’s Rue du Rhone reminds you why Switzerland is known for its watches. Watches and their (breath-taking) prices fill window displays of shops lining this road.  Think famous brand name watch and you’ll most-likely find it on this street.

* Geneva’s Old Town is home to the church’s Reformation movement. This year the city it noting the 500th Year Anniversary of the Reformation and the event’s calendar is filled with celebrations.

* Geneva is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations.

* So small and compact is this large city, that the airport is only six minutes from the heart of town and the train station is so close to the lake that you can easily walk to many of the hotels that front the lake.
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Geneva's Old Town - home to the Reformation Movement 500 years ago

Back to the Airline Tickets and Gateway Cities for a moment: 

A number of you have asked how we get back and forth between Greece and Seattle. The possibilities are endless.  New York, London, Paris, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Munich, Dubai and Cairo are among the cities that we could transit when traveling between our two homes, on ‘The Hill’ in Greece and in the Seattle suburbs.

Our choice of departure city usually depends on the best deal on the airline ticket. That’s where The Scout comes in. He starts his comparison shopping weeks before our targeted travel dates, using Kayak.com. First thing we learned is that you automatically save money by beginning the round-trip on that side ‘of the pond’ and not from the U.S.  Second is that the departure city can have a significant impact on the cost. And third, be a bit flexible on travel dates.

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Swiss chocolate really is divine!
Using our recent trip as an example:  We flew British Airlines from Geneva in June to Seattle and will return to Greece via Geneva in September. Our seats are Premium Economy – that upgraded little section of the plane that is not as cramped as economy and not as plush as Business.  Our flight from Geneva, about an hour and a half long, connected with the long-haul flight in London to Seattle. 

(We fly Greece’s Aegean Airlines or their code-share partners to and from Athens and our gateway city – usually for less than $200US per ticket). Even with that flight cost added on, it is cheaper than flying from Athens to Seattle. Go figure!

Had we flown Aegean directly to London and caught the long-haul flight, those Premium Economy seats would have cost $500US more PER SEAT than by departing out of Geneva and simply connecting with that same British Air long-haul flight from London. It was a screamin’ deal and we got to visit a city that had been on the ‘bucket list’ for years.

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On a clear day, Geneva's colors are spectacular

Geneva: What was saved was spent

What we saved on airfare we probably will spend on our stays in this picturesque city on the shores of Lake Geneva.

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You spend Swiss francs quickly but they sure are pretty 
I thought we were prepared for the Geneva sticker shock having heard horror stories from friends who’ve been there. We weren’t.

During a stroll on our first afternoon there I wanted a latte and chose one of the cafe’s with beautiful outdoor patios in which to drink it.  It was lovely, tasted okay and cost $8US. Luckily I’d changed my mind about the ice cream I’d considered having with it as it was listed as $14US a serving. At McDonald’s the next morning our ‘Happy Meals’  – no hash browns – cost $18US. You get the idea. . .
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This charcuterie was served gratis with our wine at an Old Town restaurant
Tip:  We did find that the further away from the lake you got, the better were the prices.  We had very reasonably priced dinners – not inexpensive – but reasonable in Geneva’s old historic part of town and out near the airport. And the historic settings couldn’t have been more magical.

The Screaming Deal

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Geneva's Transport Card - a FREE ticket to ride
On the flip side, one of the best travel deals we’ve ever gotten was Geneva’s FREE transport card.  Tourists staying at any of Geneva’s hotels, youth hostels or even a camp site are issued a free transport card at time of check in. It allows you to ride the city’s trams, buses, and trains (even to the airport) and also the yellow taxi boats that regularly zip back and forth to several locations along the lake shore. We never used a taxi and traveled everywhere on public transportation.

Bottom Line

In the end, the cost of Geneva was worth it. We are looking forward to our return.. For those who’ve said you may come visit us in Greece ‘some day’ keep in mind that flexibility in routing could be a key to savings as well as an introduction to some wonderful new place!

That’s it for this week. I’ll have more Geneva stories this fall. Again, thanks so much for the time you’ve spent with us. Hope your travels are healthy and happy ones ~

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
– 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

25 comments:

  1. Some very interesting pros and cons of visiting Geneva, Jackie, most importantly your economical airline fees.

    My daughter is in Norway, working at a seasonal job in the Fjords and she cannot believe the cost of everything there! She said, 'after, this, I'm never complaining about prices in Greece, again!. Compared to Canada, with the exception of produce, pretty much everything else is more expensive in Greece, when compared to the measly wages people are now making.

    Have fun in Seattle until your return to your stone house on the hill!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. We have become spoiled in Greece and we were saying the sticker shock might have been less had we arrived from the U.S. but still it was breathtaking. Part of what we noticed when we got back to Greece was the impact of the 24 percent tax - now that does take your breath away! Hugs to you, Jackie PS Watch for news from the Stone House on the Hill, coming soon!

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  2. Obviously Jackie, there are worse places than Geneva to make a flight connection and how great to be able to take those cost savings and transfer them into exploring such a delightful city. Weighing the sticker shock of restaurant meals against the free transport, a layover of a day or two might be a part of the journey that you'll relish!

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    1. You know we often reason, 'we can't take it with us' and we wanted to see the world, so you take the good with the bad, and the expensive with the savings, and it all seems to work out. . .Geneva is a beautiful, welcoming, diverse city. They have so much to offer and I am embarrassed that I knew so little about it. Now, I can hardly wait to return!

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  3. Ah the intricacies of finding the cheapest flight. I'm loving that the search is taking you through different connection points. I look forward to the next one, although I am partial to reading about your Cairo visits. I promise to keep an open mind though!

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    1. Well, it is a definite contrast between Geneva and Cairo but we've loved them both. I am liking this puzzle that always presents itself when we travel. . .now if airport security could find a way of simplifying the process, it would be perfect!

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  4. It sounds like Geneva was a great place for a stopover. Did you feel like you had enough time there or would you suggest staying longer?

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    1. Well we went twice this spring, the first weekend was our originally scheduled trip to come back to the States but we couldn't cancel hotels and air tickets so we went after our stay in France which made this stop seem rather short when we really did fly out. The first visit we had sun and 80-degree temperatures and this one it poured down rain and was miserable. . .so it was a good mix.

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  5. I visited Geneva a long time ago with my parents on one of those whirlwind bus tours of Europe. I remember my mom hoping to get a good deal on a Rolex or Patek Phillippe and being disappointed. I'd love to return some day.

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    1. Ha, ha, ha. . .I looked at some of the prices in the shop windows and realized you could buy a pretty nice car for the same price. I am looking forward to our return stopover this fall. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. You might recall that earlier this year, or was it late last year, the Swiss finally gave up trying to keep a lid on the value of their currency. It caused quite a stir in the forex markets at the time. With such a small country and such a popular currency the wonder is not that Switzerland is so expensive but that it isn't even more so.

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    1. It is amazing the impact such a small country can have on the world isn't it, Lyn? Thanks much for stopping by ~

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  7. Switzerland is on my Bucket List; I will certainly make Geneva a top priority after reading your post. And thanks for the tips on getting the best airline prices.

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    1. Definitely keep it on that list Marilyn. Now that we've had a sample of the country in Geneva we can hardly wait to expand our explorations into the countryside and small cities.

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  8. It seems to me that having to fly somewhere to get home is not a bad idea. You can choose a different "stop over" each time! Where to next? Our friends have just started their world tour. First stop after Dubai was Athens. Happy travels and thank you for stopping by my blog last week. Have a fabulous week.

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    1. Actually we have looked at Dubai as a gateway city because Emirates is such a good airline and has a direct flight to Seattle and it would be an easy connection to Dubai from Athens. (Sadly, they don't often - if ever - put their Business Class seats on sale!)

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  9. Geneva was the first city in Europe that I ever visited. I was thrilled and loved just walking around all day. Beyond all the European ambiance I was soaking in, I thought that the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum was a big highlight. You're so right that it's an expensive city, but worth the cost.

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    1. What a fabulous place to be introduced to European travel. There are so many fabulous places housed in that little city that I don't think I'd ever get tired of going there. Thanks for the visit ~

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  10. Geneva sounds like a place to spend the money you saved on airfare!

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    1. It is and it was. Looking forward to our return leg of the trip and another night there! Thanks for the visit Donna. . .

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  11. Those prices sound just like Iceland. As you mentioned, I wasn't prepare for the over the top cost of food and services. The thing is that some places are so beautiful that they are worth a visit even if you end up being a little poorer. #TPThursday

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    1. You are so right Ruth - sometimes you just need bite the bullet as it is so worth the price you pay! Thanks for stopping by today.

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  12. I have always wanted to visit Switzerland. Thanks for the information.

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  13. So, so true. Geneva, all of Switzerland, has exorbitant prices, but yet I keep going back again and again, but yes, it's worth it.

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  14. I haven't been, but hope to someday. Switzerland is high up on my bucket list. The closest I'll get in the near future is the airport in Zurich, enroute to Prague. Ah well, some day I'll get there for real!

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