Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nerd Camp 101- Geneva

Geneva is a Swiss city that is right on the border of France and Switzerland, so it's official language is French, but German and Italian are also spoken.  Supposedly, 40% of Geneva's population aren't native to Switzerland at all.  So its a very international city.

So we arrived in Geneva fine, mid-afternoonish.  They use a different currency, the Swiss Franc.  We managed to get lost finding our hostel, but Geneva is pretty small, so we called the hostel and got directions.  We had issues with the booking way back when we started planning the trip, so we had to switch hostels after the first day, but it didn't cause any problems.  The first one, Home St. Pierre, was right in front of the Catedral St. Pierre, where John Calvin preached.

Cathedral St. Pierre
Later that evening, we found food and settled into the hostel.  SWITZERLAND IS EXPENSIVE.  Just saying.  Everything was costs more than it does in France or England, but especially the US.  Geneva is reputed as being to most expensive city in Europe (so don't ask me why we chose to visit there...).
The next day, we wanted to visit the UN.  There was a protest going on in front of the main building.  Something about Vietnamese human rights.
Vietnamese monks/priests and other protesters.
 In front of the United Nations.
We went around to the side and found the visitor's entrance, so we could do a tour.  We had to go through security, but I got a fantastic visitor's badge.  The tour was increeeeeedibly boring.  Our tour guide was horrific, I think I knew more about the UN than he did, or at least it was all stuff I could have found on Wikipedia.  We still got to see some interesting, important things though.
Obama and Ahmadinejad have both given speeches in this room.
 This was a 5 part mural by a Spanish artist (I forget the name).  It was really interesting because it showed all the different areas of human progress.  But it pointed out that despite all of our advances culturally, scientifically, and technologically, we still haven't managed to overcome war.

After the UN, we walked around the center of Geneva.  We saw banks, chocolate shops, and knife stores (typical, haha).  We mostly wandered around the city for the rest of the day.
We found a park with giant checkerboards.  Carly kicked by butt, as you can see.
Our next hostel was a little more centrally located and had a handy brochure of stuff to see in and around Geneva.  I completely geeked out and wanted to go see CERN, which I had no idea was so close to Geneva.  OK, a little bit about CERN: it was created in the 1950s in an effort to promote international scientific cooperation and understanding.  It stands for European Organization for Nuclear Research, and I believe that the compound has more Nobel Prizes per square inch than any other place in the world.  I totally made that statistic up, but I bet its true.  CERN was featured in (big surprise here) Angels & Demons, but they recently made headlines, in the past year or so, for their new Large Hadron Collidor.  A lot of people were (and still are) afraid that the LHC is going to create a black hole and suck the Earth into it, thereby ending the world as we know it.
CERN has dabbled in antimatter (made some, in fact!), and they generally research stuff that makes me really excited, but gives me a headache.  Its a lot of theoretical stuff, but it has practical application, particular in engineering and medicine.  In fact, the Internet was invented there, as a means of sharing scientific work.  So, you are reading this blog post thanks to CERN! CERN had a small museum called the Cosmos.  It was watered down enough that I could grasp some of it, but I still left with a headache.  Whew.
Please note my tan.  eep.
Outside one of the stations of the LHC.  I came away unscathed. :o]
We next went to the opposite end of the city, to Mount Saléve.  We took a cable car to the top, and we got some great views of Lake Geneva and the rest of the city.
Some neat trails and hiking.
Ha, I like this pose.
So with my big headache from CERN, we headed back to the hostel.  They showed a movie every night, and that night I got the pleasure of seeing Waking Ned Devine.  Hilarious movie about a tiny Irish town.  You should watch it.
The next day, Sunday, we were supposed to go to Interlaken.  We weren't in a particular hurry, but there were a few last minute things we wanted to see in Geneva before we headed out (via train).  The annual Geneva Marathon was going on, so we got to see hoardes of annoying runners (runners in general annoy me, mostly because I hate running and they obviously love it. hahaha).
Floral clock with enthusiastic band to keep the runners' energy up.
The Jet d'Eau, which shoots water from Lake Geneva 140 meters up into the air.  I don't think it exactly qualifies as a fountain.
We got a late morning train to Interlaken, which was a very scenic ride.  More on Interlaken in another post! :o]


Susannah said...

Reading this these past two days has been just too much fun!!! What a chronicle!

aquariumist said...

what hostel did you guys stay in before and after CERN? I will be there in Aug, and wanted to get advice from those who know. recommendations?