Sunday, December 1, 2013

Getting my bearings

A. Les Marronniers, our favorite restaurant and where we had Thanksgiving turkey dinner ... B. The Golf Store, run by two Scots (near the Rive bus stop where we often change routes) ... C. HUG, the hospital that takes such good care of D-L ... D. Payot, English-language bookstore ... E. Café du Soleil, were D-L took me to dinner when we re-connected ... F. Salon de Bougies, which is very close to where D-L lived for many years ... G. Webster University, where D-L taught creative writing ... H. Geneva's famous icon, Le Jet d'Eau fountain.

Donna-Lane and I rode and walked around the city of Geneva for a few hours yesterday. Brisk day, slightly above freezing, winter coat, scarf and mittens weather, which is the way she likes it. (I tend to prefer the heat of summer, sometimes so hot there are few other idiots on the golf course.) But I grew up in the Northeast, so I can handle the chill.

She described the day so well in her blog, no need for me to repeat.
http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2013/12/candles-santons-and-trompe-loeil-all-in.html

Even though I had visited Geneva three times before 're-finding' D-L last year, I didn't know much about the city beyond the hotels I stayed in, the Palexpo conference centre, and the aeroport. That's the way it used to be with most of my travel - in, out, tick the 'been there' box.

Before I came to Geneva the first time, a colleague told me it was a nice place to visit ... once. After that first time, I thought he was wrong even about the once -- the entire week was overcast, rain, gloom. Could not even see the mountains. And since our hotel (the Intercontinental, where Kerry just held the nuke talks with Iran) was quite close to the airport, I didn't see much of downtown at all.

I now know my colleague was wrong for many other reasons - like most conference attendees, he would never get to see the city through the eyes of someone who lives there. Therefore, he would never appreciate all of the charm and history it has to offer.

Day by day, I am getting my bearings as we spend stretches of time in Geneva throughout the year.

To me, downtown Geneva is divided in half by Lac Leman and the Le Rhone river, which flows out of the lake's western end. I think in terms of the 'divide' being Le Pont du Mont Blanc, a long, wide bridge that carries most of the vehicle traffic to and fro. Because Donna-Lane tends to cross the river via bus or tram at Rue des Moulins - where the river is less noticeable because an island (with buildings) slices it into two streams - she was confused by my "other side of the river" perspective. After we caught the No. 5 bus at Moulins, I understood her "one continuous city" perspective.

The map above shows some of our personal Geneva landmarks. One of my favorites is the Coutance bus stop, which ironically is where she left me the evening we had dinner at Café du Soleil - the oldest restaurant in the city. The timing was such that we had to catch a bus down the hill from the restaurant ... so she could catch a bus to Rive ... so she could catch the last E bus of the night toward Hermance that went by the house in Corsier Port.

We hadn't seen each other in 24 years, and had spent most of dinner catching up on each other's life highlights. We kept up the conversation until the very last minute, trying to fill in as many knowledge gaps as possible. But when the bus pulled up to the Coutance stop - they don't wait around long - she turned and ran to catch it. It was a Zhivago-esque moment to me, though in reverse because in the movie (one of my all-time favorites), Julie Christie is watching Omar Sharif get on the tram and ride away.

At my request, D-L re-created the moment ...
Oh, and just before she turned to run, she kissed me ...

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