Thursday, January 18, 2007

Geneva - Hyper-Educated city





Despite the disastrous start of our Geneva trip, our 4 day family trip to Geneva has proved to be one of our favorites. With only a small city to explore and no snow for skiing to occupy our time, we took a relaxed pace, but managed to amply fill our days. Geneva is perhaps the city in the world with the highest education level, (due to all the international organizations that headquarter there), and it shows. We attended 7 varied and eclectic museums, and despite my hesitation at traditional French food, ate well indeed. From ale relais d'entrecote, a traditional steak house that had only one thing on the menu, to Cafe Raphael, modern international fusion cuisine, to At my Cousin's house, we eat Chicken, a hip homey place with also just one thing on the menu, to of course Fondue, in l'Hotel de Ville, a homey, nordic-decorated (think Ikea) restaurant in the medieval town of Gruyere where hard cheese was invented.

But the museums demonstrated well the character of the place. From a museum on ethnography (basically a museum that highlights cultural anthropology), to a museum of archeology (beneath St Peter's cathedral, where 2000 years of architecture have been unearthed, and the art and excitement of the archaeologist's craft is conveyed), to the red cross museum (with a display on genocide in Cambodia), to a museum of food (in nearby Vevey , where they had a children's book that had a post-modern Derrida inspired deconstruction of a soup bowl for kids). As for art, the old stuff was not especially impressive, and the new stuff tried too hard. Though a ballet we saw there struck the right balance. Housed in a beautifully restored warehouse right on the river (which led to trouble because we first went to the Grand Theater, the normal home of the ballet company), they performed a 19th century ballet, Coppelia, but using modern avant garde setting, including a reality tv show, and a video backdrop that highlighted the surreal vaguely-amateurish cinematography common to contemporary art.

Oh, and for the boy in me, the nearby Castle Chaillon is the coolest medieval castle I've visited.

Memories of the kids in George RR Martin books, growing up in castles, sword fighting...

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