Geneva & Zurich  revisited
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Geneva & Zurich revisited

Danee Samonte (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  The last time I was in Switzerland was over 20 years ago. The reason I haven’t visited was because it was one of the few European countries not a member of Shengen (one visa for 28 European countries) until recently. I got excited although I wasn’t on my favorite Philippine Airlines; PAL has no flights to Europe, save for London.

We landed early at Charles de Gaulle airport and made a dash for the Sixt rentals. I wasn’t driving this time as my wife Madelin was so hyped to drive in Europe. It took us about five hours driving through speedways and country roads to get to Geneva, the first of two cities we were supposed to visit. I felt like a newbie in Geneva because most of the sights I saw 20 years ago have changed.

That’s me with wife Mady

I was famished so the moment we finished unpacking at our mini-abode, we headed for the restaurant beside the hotel and ordered what else but Swiss food. Raclette and Swiss Fondue. Yummy and very satisfying, we almost finished the humongous serving. Although the Philippines was suffering from a 40-degree centigrade heat, Geneva was almost freezing. Next day was a little warm so we spent the morning going around Lake Geneva. By lunch, we had to travel two hours to visit my cousin Melissa whom I haven’t seen in 20 years in a town so small populations are in the low hundreds.

She and husband Francois took us around in their small city. Madelin was so enthralled with friendliness of the city she wanted to stay longer but our time was so limited. Back to Geneva, I decided to have dinner in one of the most chic restaurants in the city, the Ritz Carlton Hotel where waiters are so courteous but real knowledgeable with the food. We ordered lobster with pomegranate, Caesar salad, Peking Duck French-style and a huge serving of ice cream with fruit. I loved the food and didn’t mind that it cost us over P20,000 just for dinner. The night was young but it started to snow therefore we had to walk fast to the hotel.

Geneva to Zurich was five hours of driving along the well-manicured Swiss freeway. Free and easy driving, we got into Zurich ahead of time. Our room at the lovely Novotel wasn’t ready yet so we had spare time to wander the lovely city. Zurich was kinda modern compared to Geneva. Across from the hotel was a huge supermarket that sold everything you can think of. From a variety of fresh fruits to the meats and cheeses you’ve never heard of. I had a field day stocking up fresh fruit. A little more than 100 meters from the hotel was the train station that catered to every destination you can think of within Europe.

Enjoying a complete supper

I think we will go to Zurich’s shopping area early tomorrow. Meantime, we returned to the hotel to check in. Lucky us the head of check in was Filipino so everything was easy. We decided to sleep early so that we could leave early tomorrow. Next day, as soon as the sun was up, we hit the train station far a short trip to the city. Zurich was a wonderful small city filled to the brim with high-end jewelry and watch shops. I had a real grand time checking the new watches. At lunch, we tried the Savoy hotels restaurant. The hotel was antique chic and we were escorted to the window seats. Prime rib was the specialty of the day so we ordered it. Despite being overly delicious, it was too big (36 ounces) to finished by two people. After the hearty lunch, we went around including various bazaars like Zara.

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