September 19, 2015

Impressions of an ex-Geneva resident

The first change I noticed upon my return to Genva was the facelift the main station had received. The ticket counters had been replaced by machines, the Caran d'Ache animated window display - an institution in this city - had given way to a self service pastry and sandwich counter and what used to be the Buffet de la Gare was now a fast food chain.

Welcome back!

It is positive that things change as the world moves ahead I thought and braced myself to face all the novelties I would encounter after having left this town 17 years ago.

Arriving from hectic Paris, walking through Geneva felt rather like a giant International University campus. Back in my time you could come across all colours and races but today I am hearing just as much English spoken in the streets as French or Arabic.

What stikes me is that people are talking to each other, asking strangers for directions or joking while taking photos of the same monument. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can see that people feel completely safe and integrated in their environment despite the immense mixture of cultures and nationalities.

The cliché of bank tellers greeting their clients (old and young) with a smile and a warm welcome is true. I see it time and time again.

Where else have you bumped into two ladies from the Fidjis who happend to start a conversation for no apparent reason?

You can feel the sense of peace and security in people's pace. It has a very distinct rhythm compared to Paris where everyone seems stressed and frustrated rushing to catch the next metro.

Oh, how could I forget the best part? Cars still stop to let you cross the road. It all feels very civilized and organized as usual! Well, let's say until rush hour kicks in...

So what if the main department store Manor was called La Placette, Globus was Au Grand Passage and the EPA still existed when I lived here?

Things change, places grow and people evolve, and Geneva truly seems to be going in the right direction.

The "new" locals

The real Genevan rides this "navette" to work

Geneva's old town

 Switzerland living up to its idilic image

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