Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts

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.

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:

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.
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 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.

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.

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.

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. . .
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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Travel’s Blessings ~ Sunday Serendipity in Geneva

Serendipity - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

It is a post-card perfect Sunday afternoon in Geneva, Switzerland. Mont Blanc towers in the distance and Lake Geneva has drawn thousands of local and visiting sun-worshippers on this perfect June day.
Lake Geneva 

We didn’t head to the lake though. We went  to church. Not the ‘walk in and admire the architecture’ kind of ‘go to church’, I am talking the ‘sit down and stay awhile’ kind.
Geneva, Switzerland
If a traveler were going to go to church, Geneva, known today as the ‘Protestant Rome” would be a good city in which to do it  - there are more than 140 places of worship from which to choose. There’s even an International Museum of the Reformation here which chronicals the Protestant church reformation.
But that’s not why we went to church.  It was the serendipity of travel that took us to church:
Several years ago while at our Hawaiian timeshare, Ko Olina on O’ahu, we attended an owners ‘meet and greet’. It turns out that several sets of owners come back ‘same time each year’ as we do. And as result of that introductory gathering several of us have become friends. We socialize when together in Hawaii and stay in touch in between. 
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva
One set of KoOlina friends have told us about their son and his family living in Geneva.  He is the minister at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva, which is located on one of the prettiest plazas in the old town. So the serendipity of that chance meeting in Hawaii years ago led us to church this morning in Geneva. We were attending the service conducted by our friends' son.
Children's choir and Rev. Andrew Willis

Had we not gone, we would have missed one of the richest travel experiences we’ve ever had. The congregation was a reflection of the the United Nations headquarters here (the second largest of the organizations four headquarters) – the music and the praise a mix of cultural richness.
Reamo lebogaWe give our thanks to God.
We sang the hymn using the words of Botswana, another hymn was from Namibia another was an English folk tune, and another a Medieval French melody.   
Gathering for communion
The visitors were equally as culturally and ethnically mixed. As we introduced ourselves to the congregation we learned there was a group from Australia seated behind us, a Jazz singer (here for an upcoming festival) from Chicago, a grandmother from Ghana here visiting her grandchildren and several folks who were in town for work at the World Council of Churches.
As we left, I lamented to The Scout that I wish I lived closer – I’d likely be a regular at this worship service. 
But we were not quite done with serendipity it turned out. . .
We strolled through the plaza in front of the church, then around a corner and found ourselves at the Geneva Street Food Festival – a once a year, one-day food and drink fest that we were lucky enough to happen upon. Serendipity, I tell you! 
Our lunch a Palestinian dish
It was tough to decide between Italian, Asian, French, vegan, meat bbq, gourmet hot dogs, and everything in between but we finally chose Middle Eastern, Palestinian food to be exact. 
Wish they'd drive to Greece
Had it been a bit later in the day I’d have indulged in one of my favorites, an Aperol Spritz!
Smoked salmon -- Northwest style?
Or the offerings of the chef in the converted school bus. . .
Old school buses never die. . .

On that note we are off to make the most of our last evening in Geneva. Our whirlwind trip ends tomorrow when we head home to Greece.  Hope that your travels -- like ours - have been blessed with a bit of serendipity. And as always our thanks for being with us on this adventure!
Linking this week with:

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


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