Monday, 25 April 2016

GENEVA | SWITZERLAND


DAY 1
We arrived in Geneva super early in the morning so we had time to get to our hotel and have a shower. I love washing my hair abroad, the water is never as hard as it is in the UK and my hair goes all soft and doesn't get greasy for days! Anyway, after we had spruced up and dumped our bags at our hotel which was the Des Horlogers hotel in Plan-les-Ouates (I highly recommend this hotel!). We decided to go to the nearest restaurant because we were super hungry. It just so happened to be the restaurant opposite our hotel called 'Restaurant les marronniers'. This snap decision was by far - the WORST choice we could have made. The employees were extremely rude from the get go. 

At first, one waiter asked us what we would like to drink and we asked for spring water, he then prompted us to make a choice on our food but we hadn't yet decided so shortly after a waitress came over and gave us our drinks and asked the same question. I needed the wi-fi password to translate some of the things on the menu because I am vegan and I don't speak fluent french - yet. I do speak enough to understand most things but I needed to double check certain things on google. The waitress literally spat 'No Wi-Fi until you order your mains' so I said 'okay well I am vegan, so what can I have?' and she expressed her disapproval by storming off and grabbing the waiter we had previously spoken to. He came over and aggressively said 'so you want pasta and tomato' - I thought - well not bloody really but here we go. So I asked if they could add asparagus, mushroom and avocado to my meal. They then came out with a salad for my friend and a pasta for me and told me it was impossible to add anything to a bland pasta dish. 

The manner in which these people were speaking to us was disgusting and I haven't ever experienced this kind of behaviour in my life. So we mixed our bowls together and shared our meals between us. After we'd finished our meal FOUR different staff members consecutively came up to us and offered us the dessert menu in what felt like an effort to rush us out of the door. 

We then asked for the bill and they had charged us 6 swiss francs for water when it had said on the menu it was 2.5 swiss francs. One of the waitresses began to shout that I had the 'pomme juice' to which I had to reply 'No, I did not have the apple juice and the apple juice is 2.5 francs anyway also'. The man came over and argued with us and said we had the children's water. I simply replied that nowhere on that menu did it state 'enfant' so this was a blatant lie. It was apparent from the off that they had a complex about foreign visitors. They made us feel very unwelcome and then they tried and succeeded in cheating us out of money. I would also like to add that the prices in this place are ridiculous for the standard of food on offer. 

I dislike that I have to write negative feedback here on my blog, but I will only ever write the truth and be real and this was our experience. I also felt the need to write about this online because two members of staff in our hotel told us that they always hear bad stories from guests that go to this restaurant. We actually laughed our heads off afterwards because in these situations all you can do is laugh. We also decided it would be a fantastic idea to put them forward for 'Gordan Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares' because honest to god, I had only ever seen crazies like this in charge of a business in hospitality and dining on that programme prior to this experience!

After our disappointing (to say the least) lunch, we headed into the town centre. Our hotel gave us free transport passes which were very handy. We went straight to 'Pont Mont-Blanc' to see the Rhone river and all the beautiful surroundings. The views did not disappoint. Geneva is a beautiful place for sure. I love being by water; it makes me feel so relaxed and a peace with life and the mixture of the mountain views with the beautiful river were amazing. I love the architecture in Geneva. It is similar to that you'll find in Paris and Valencia. I also picked up a yummy mango sorbet on the river front which I enjoyed in the sunshine! After exploring for the majority of the day we were so tired and went back to the hotel pretty early. We went to bed at around 9.30pm and it was lush.

DAY 2
Due to going to bed at 9.30pm like a pair of grannies we are the night previous we woke up nice and early and went for breakfast in our hotel. The spread was lovely; I had lots of fruit, nuts, cereals, fresh bread & preserves and my lissy who isn't vegan ate their cheese, meats, croissants and other sweets too so it was good for the both of us. We went for a lovely walk into the mountains and countryside after breakfast and it was so much fun. Just listening to our favourite songs, having deep meaningful conversations and being at one with the wilderness and nature. All we could hear was woodpeckers pecking, birds singing and bugs buzzing. We went to the park and played like children and I have never felt so free. You need to play in life, no matter what your age. We also visited a small boot fare and it was interesting looking through people's brick-a-brack.

Lisett and I had some Ecuadorian and French friends to meet in Geneva so we met with them at around 12. They took us to the Museum of art and history. WOW! What a beautiful place full of interesting things. I specifically loved the original machine designed to power a light bulb (it was huge!) and the soldier's metal armour. I realised that if I had been born in that time period I probably would have dated a man in armour haha it's probably the equivalent of coming home dressed as a fireman now days. 

After exploring the museum, we went to our Ecuadorian friend's house for dinner and it was a very humbling experience. First of all, we went to the supermarket and bought avocados, salad material, vegetable fritters, gherkins and pickled asparagus. 

I have to say, in the Supermarket I had a weird 'What da' f*** am I living in' moment. What on earth are people doing? They use cow's milk in absolutely EVERYTHING. Every single thing in the fridge had cow's milk in it and I find it so weird that people don't find that weird. It was in everything; yogurts, the cheeses, the cakes, the butter they spread on everything and cook with, the lasagne, the pasta sauces, condiments, the premade pizzas, the olives mixed with cheese and bottles of milk themselves - and people eat these products all day every day. All in one day. Imagine if I were to say to you - hey - I'm going to pour - I don't know - apple juice in everything you eat. You'd be like 'what on earth? no way - there is too much sugar in that, you'd probably tell me to 'eff off' too because you can have too much of a good thing right?' so even if cow's milk was good for you - which it isn't - why would you have it in EVERY MEAL and consume this much of it? Just WHY? 

It's bizarre to me that people aren't questioning their diets given certain health statistics and it is bizarre to me that people think baby bovine growth fluid is going to make them slender, healthy or happy. BIZARRE! I'm living in a crazy world. I also found it hideous that everything else in the shop seemed to have meat in it and there were a bunch of dead chicken corpses just thrown into a fridge like their lives didn't matter while people walk around with their heads in their arses telling themselves they're animal lovers because they treat their pet dog kindly yet continue to have animals murdered daily for their dinner. I've seen people save bugs and preach about being kind to all animals followed by stuffing their face with a steak. MADNESS!

I was so flattered that everyone wanted to eat a vegan meal with me and Humberto (so ironic that's his name) even offered to pay for it all. When we got back to his home, I was surprised to learn that he lived in one room with four other people and had a tiny kitchenette with a gas stove. I am not saying this in any way as if I don't think this man has all he needs, but it was still so humbling to see how kind and open to helping people he was. Especially in comparison to others who choose not to help people with the means to do so. It was so lovely to see and made me rather emotional. I feel so grateful to have attracted such kind, warm-hearted and compassionate human beings into my life. 

Lissy and I also met a lady who was such a character. She was sixty years old and looked around 40. She spoke five different languages fluently and she was successful, strong, sassy, funny and independent women. I loved speaking with her because she mixed Italian, Spanish, French and English words together in sentences and I could understand it all perfectly so it was almost entertaining. She really inspired us both and I am glad to have met such a character! 

After lunch we headed up into the mountains and visited the original Evian water source! I got to drink straight from the fountain and it tasted superb. There were people filling up bottles after bottles of drinking water and that alone made me want to live there if I am being honest. Imagine having a free, natural and pure water supply right near your home! I was in heaven I tell you! One man collecting water, who I can only assume worked for Evian, gave myself and my friends a free bottle of Evian sealed water each too which was very sweet.

After a lovely day, we went back to the hotel for a rest and then went back out to eat. We hunted down a place called Houmous & co, which I was super excited about as I thought it would be like 'Hummus Bar' in Budapest - which was AMAZING if you're going that way! but, alas, it was just a cafe and the man there also said he couldn't mix houmous and falafel together in a sandwich and could only have one or the other. He was also quite abrupt when pointing out the potential vegan options which meant I did not want to spend my money there. We also hunted down a Lebanese place that stopped serving at 9 so no falafel for me. Most places stopped serving food at 10pm so after walking around for hours and looking at potential menus we ended up going to the shop and buying peanuts and oreos! Geneva would be much easier food-wise for a non-vegan there is no doubt about it. After admitting defeat and coming to the realisation that I was not going to get a good vegan meal in my belly, we retired back to the hotel and hit the hay for some good old fashioned shut eye.

DAY 3 
We woke up and had a nice breakfast in the hotel and then relaxed around the hotel for the morning. We then took a bus into town and went on the hunt for some food. Another disappointing experience, two Ecuadorian restaurants we found ONLY offered meat on the Menu. Once again the waitress said I couldn't add anything to the salad so that was that, I sat there with no food and went to buy peanuts after. I had a look for all the vegetarian restaurants I had screenshot and they were all closed on a Sunday! Ha! 

Later in the night I did manage to get some falafel from a local kebab shop but I did have a drunk boy give me a lecture on why I shouldn't be vegan. It makes me super sad when I realise how heavily conditioned the WHOLE world is when it comes to food. It's bloody bonkers how powerful collective conditioning can be. He said it with genuine concern in his eyes as well, he wanted me to be healthy and genuinely cared for my health, but he has been conditioned so far into believing it that it is unlikely he can change his lifestyle for the better. That makes me super sad. In my life now I am surrounded by vegans, vegetarians and those that don't eat dairy. Since being vegan, my Dad doesn't eat or drink dairy anymore, nor does my mum, nor do three of my best friends, a few of my other friends have gone vegan or vegetarian and my boyfriend has transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. I am a member of vegan UK and I work with vegans all day long so it's sometimes easy for me to get into my little happy bubble and think the world has woken up with me and that soon all the cruelty, damage, and health problems will be a thing of the past, but this trip made me realise that it probably won't happen as quickly as one would like and actually the majority of the world have been so far conditioned into these beliefs there is no coming back. I do take a lot of comfort in the fact that I have woken up and the people I love and care about around me have too.

THE PROS
* The transport system in Geneva is amazing! It is punctual, clean and frequent. It's also pretty easy to understand once you know the main places to catch all the buses you need. The bus drivers are all very sweet and helpful and most of them spoke either English or Spanish well and were more than willing to help us find our way. 
* Geneva is beautiful, clean and tranquil. There are so many beautiful sights from the mountains to the river to the green countryside. The buildings and parks are also wonderful.
* The air is very clean and crisp. You can really tell the air there isn't as polluted as it is in other places.
* The hotel we stayed in was lovely. It was in a great location, they gave us free travel passes, the room was spacious and clean, the breakfast was great and all the staff seemed very helpful, polite and sweet.
* I got to spend a lot of quality time with my beautiful bestie. We laughed a lot and have made memories to last a lifetime.

THE CONS 
* The people seem quite cold and rude and despite addressing them in French, none of them seemed too eager to help a pair of lost young women from time to time. 
* Everything is very expensive. I don't usually pay attention to prices and when everyone who had been to Geneva told me before I came that it was expensive I kind of thought 'yeah, yeah, whatever, I don't mind for a weekend & I bet it's not that bad'. It is that bad, it's ridiculous, the first day we paid 28 francs for a salad - that's £19.83! Thank goodness I didn't have anything to drink as well. Ha!
* The service in restaurants is the worst I have ever experienced. It was even worse than Paris (and I thought that was bad at the time). There seems to be this strange thing where places can't seem to comprehend mixing ingredients, dishes or even condiments on the menu which I find super strange but it didn't just happen in one place so it must be down to very strict stock control or something. 
* If you are vegan or dairy intolerant, eating out in Geneva is tricky, to say the least. In fact, it's pretty much impossible. This break was, by far the worst for vegan food I have ever experienced. I loved Budapest & Prague for food but Geneva did not even come close. I ended up snacking on peanuts, plantain chips, Oreos (I know - bad because of the palm oil but when you're starving on a deserted geneva - you won't care either haha) and fruit too, which isn't so bad I guess. 

LET'S WRAP THIS POST UP LIKE A LITTLE BURRITO IN A BAG...
I am happy to have seen Geneva in all its splendor. It's absolutely beautiful. I personally am not into eating animals or animal products and I don't enjoy shopping and obtaining material objects. I couldn't give a shit for designers and brands so inevitably Geneva is not the top city in Europe for me and I won't be returning anytime soon. I found everything to be a little too overpriced and if I'm honest, I found the attractions on offer to be a bit boring. I get the impression it is a place for older generations. I did really appreciate my stay there and I am glad I got to share it with my lovely girl Lisett. She's adorable. One of those pure souls that make you feel at home, one of those people who just observe and don't judge and one of those humans that just takes you as you are for who you far. It's refreshing and it's freedom to have a friendship like the one we have and I am so grateful to have a friend like her in my life. My little angel! This trip has also made me feel so grateful for the fact I live between London and Brighton, both of which places I can get vegan food easily. I'm also super grateful for all the open-minded and supportive people in my life that know veganism is the way to go! So the trip was well worth it. Gratitude is vital.
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