Sunday, October 2, 2011

Geneve, Genf, Ginevra, Geneva

The multi-lingual, 3rd highest standard of living, 4th most expensive city, and home to the World Health Organization--Geneva, Switzerland is where I spent a week this summer. At USAID I manage grants, and one of those grants are with the WHO. In efforts to learn more and have the grant process run more smoothly, USAID sent me to Geneva for a week. Sounds so official, doesn't it? In reality, it was a three day meet and greet as I met with directors of the many health programs that our grant supports.

 Statue depicting Smallpox eradication 
(Yes, I am a fan of vaccines)

Geneva is a BEAUTIFUL city! I took a red eye flight from DC and arrived in Switzerland early Sunday morning. I was a little nervous landing in a foreign country and having to figure out currency, taxis, and hotels, but as usual I was just fine. On arrival I was enveloped in pouring rain and a whole lot of French. Luckily, everyone in Switzerland speaks English and about 40% of Geneva residents come from outside of Switzerland, it has a very international flavor. The taxi dropped me off at my hotel where I immediately fell asleep for a few hours (I can't sleep on planes and so jet lag and a night of not sleeping was a perfect combo for a long nap.) I woke up just in time to meet two BYU students in the hotel lobby who were there to show me the way to church. I attended the English branch, which consisted of a lot of diplomatic and business families living in Geneva for various jobs.

After church, I was off by myself to explore the city. My hotel was located minutes from the gorgeous Lake Geneva and I simply walked around and enjoyed the scenery. Monday morning I met up with the same kids and they gave me a very brief and fast paced tour of Old Town Geneva. Of course, only after we stopped at the Best Pastry shop in the city--pastries filled with nutella, hazlenut chocolate, and other deliciousness. Meetings at WHO started late that morning and the rest of my day was running from meeting to meeting.

 The world's longest bench

"The Reformers Wall" A monument built to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin, a leader in the Protestant Reformation

The meetings were less than exciting, but just as a fun side note, if any of you see the movie "Contagion" the front doors and lobby of the WHO are exactly as shown in the movie. I got really excited watching the movie and seeing places where I had actually been. After meetings each day, I had time to explore. With some other work demands that came up, that exploration time was cut a bit short, but in the time I had, I went running around the lake, visited shops, ate lots of chocolate and yummy sandwiches, and just took this gorgeous city in. Geneva really is quite friendly and easy to navigate and I only wish I had a bit more time to see more of the city and explore the culture a bit more.

 The walkway of flags at the United Nations Building

I had three days of meetings and on Thursday I hopped on a train to Germany to visit die Oma and other relatives...Swiss train rides are so magical! Stay tuned for my next post as I transitioned from French speaking, pastry eating, international flair Switzerland to beer and pretzel eating Germany!