Monday, March 7, 2011

Impressions Genevoises

A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful couple of days in Geneva. I must say that, ever since I saw it for the first time, I always love when I go back and visit the city. The reasons are several: I enjoy speaking French and understanding the random conversations taking place all around me; people are cold but friendly, and this reminds me of a more laid back and sleepy version of Paris; finally, when I go there I somehow feel relaxed and on vacation.
This time I met a friend from school in the States, and we caught up with each other’s lives, dreams, directions, and recent happenings. We had a coffee by the lake, then excellent Vietnamese food at Cho Lon (Rue de Zurich, 43). As everyone knows, I love food and I always enjoy trying new recipes and discovering new ways to spoil my senses. However, of all the possible world cuisines, Vietnamese was never on top of my list, albeit I have a deep love for noodles (particularly egg noodles, rice noodles are ok); it’s not that I dislike it, on the contrary: what I want to say is that, whenever I happened to go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I generally liked it, but it’s not the type of food I would look for nor crave. Perhaps the best way to describe my relationship with Vietnamese food is that I am neutral to it.
I was in for a surprise: as I sat in front of an outstanding bowl of pho, I realized that I had really missed Vietnamese food. After years of Vietnamese food overload in California (and thanks to the culinary skills of very capable friends with Vietnamese heritage) I had not had it ever since I moved to Switzerland, and it never occurred to me I’d miss it. Craving Korean food - perhaps. Craving Japanese food - for sure. But Vietnamese food…My taste buds and brain thought differently though, and I highly, highly recommend the place if you ever visit Geneva.
My friend and I walked around and saw all the United Nations buildings, and I even got the “insider tour” – for me, an economist with a focus in international institutions and business who originally picked her college major with the idea of becoming a diplomat, it was like heaven. It was excellent to share personal impressions about our experiences in Switzerland, which are different, but at the same time there is a sort of fil rouge.
Later I said goodbye to my friend, and headed for a walk in the old part of Geneva, which I did not know: a cobweb of quiet cobblestone streets, a two-faced heart of Catholicism and Reformation. Somehow, I couldn’t help but think that Geneva is the perfect place to have a coffee, go to the hairdresser, buy cute jewelry and lingerie, bon bons, and rose-scented products. Funny enough, to this day only two other places in the whole world give me this feeling, which is a mixture of decadent paresse and uninterrupted intellectual stimulation: Paris and New Orleans. It was nice to find the same sensations in Geneva.
I wish I’d had more time to wander around, and also go shopping more seriously in the new part of town, but I had to go back to Gare Cornavin to catch my train back to Zurich. I said au revoir to Geneva, and hopped on the train accompanied by pleasant thoughts of the weekend, as well as the perspective of upcoming fun in Zurich. Little did I know that I was in for a shocking surprise in Zurich too!
Destiny is cruel – sometimes you meet wonderful people and never see them again even though you would die to, and some other times you meet people who pierce your heart ruthlessly, whom you hope, for your own sake, never to meet again and not reopen the wounds, and you bump into them months later, on a random evening, as you exit the Hauptbanhof, cross the street, and turn right on your way to the grocery store. Natürlich…

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