Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just Follow the Tracks

I went against my better judgement. I listened to Donna-Lane on directions.

I know, I know, men are supposed to be terrible about asking for directions. But you need to understand that for at least the past 25 years, D-L has mostly taken public transportation or rode as a passenger in a car. Such experience is not necessarily conducive to being able to navigate - especially the convoluted street spaghetti system of Geneva (which is way worse than Boston).

I will concede that, one time, we were looking for an historic site, and she advised me to follow the No. 3 tram. She was right because that's how she had gotten to that site before.

This morning, we were headed to the canton offices in Onex, a part of town we rarely venture into. I had printed out the GoogleMaps directions and maps the evening before as potential reference ... though even that is tenuous because the street signs in Geneva are on the sides of buildings: small, not always visible, not always there at all.

I had a good idea how to get halfway to our destination but could have easily become confused the rest of the way. One reason we left almost two hours before my appointment to process my Permis B residence application.

Before we got to the Quai Dore and the Pont du Mont Blanc, which has been a construction bottleneck the past couple weeks, Donna-Lane suggested we turn at Eaux-Vives and parallel the Quai in order to get to the Bel Air bus/tram interchange. My gut said no, but I turned nonetheless. Weaving past the early morning delivery trucks, we arrived at Bel Air.

"Okay, you're on your own now," D-L announced.

"What do you mean?"

"Just follow the tram tracks."

Not only was I well off the map I had printed out, after just a couple of blocks the tram tracks made a wide right turn - down a street which cars are not allowed to enter! Now what?

We made a couple guess-turns until we came to an area I was familiar with - Plainpalais, a huge open park large enough for the annual circus. Found a parking spot to get out of traffic (a small miracle in itself) and started examining the maps we had available (which are not great).

Aha! We also had the TomTom GPS, and (another miracle) it had the canton office address already programmed from the previous time we visited there. Between Tom (actually Thomasina for the female Brit voice giving directions) and the street signs for Onex and Chancy, we managed to work our way to familiar territory. Arrived with time to spare, so we popped into Co-op for a pain du chocolate and tea.

On the return, actually heading for the hospital so Donna-Lane could have yet another blood test, we discovered a part of the city I had never been in with a beautiful fall view of the River Arve. (And quite close to the hospital, so perhaps a strolling destination in the future.)

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