Rise and Shine its CERN Time
Okay, so this all started when two of my colleagues who had previously visited Geneva a few years ago highly recommended me to go there.
It made perfect sense as Geneva is one of the main destinations that I am responsible for operating when a school group has delightfully booked with usâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..the question is what was stopping me?
I already know the most popular excursions that my groups do when out in Geneva, there are a handful of UK airports that fly daily to Geneva and I am aware of the free public transport card that allows me to travel around the city, plus I get the added bonus of creating my very own itinerary for myself!
After asking myself this question multiple times, I realised that the only thing that was stopping me was deciding when to go!!! Geneva in the summer time looked breath-taking, however it was looking at images of the city in winter that took my breath away- it looks truly magical! I chose mid-December as my preferred time to go so let my itinerary commence...
Hand luggage packed and itinerary in hand we headed straight to Birmingham Airport for our 12.45 flight departure. Within a few short hours, we were through airport security and collecting our free 80 minute transport cards and catching the train to Geneva Central (Gare Cornavin).
Walking to our first tram journey of the trip, we were surrounded by spectacular Christmas lights which really started to stand out as night time drew in. Tram 15 is located in front of the main train station and within 3 quick stops plus a brisk 5 minute walk we arrived at the Geneva Hostel ready to drop off our bags, freshen up and head out to our evening of bowling and pizza.
We hopped back on to Tram 15 and made our way to Bowling de Meyrin, a common trip that our school groups make. After 2 competitive games ending in a tie break, hunger STRIKES and we stepped into the bowlingâ€™s Italian inspired restaurant for an amazing pizza. We had the enjoyment of watching our pizzas being freshly prepared in front of our very eyes and cooked to perfection in the restaurants stone oven. The quality and size of the pizza were definitely worth the wait. The pizza was very filling and was a great way to complete our first day in Geneva.
Rise and shine its CERN time!
CERN is the main reason why groups book their school trips to Geneva with Adaptable Travel so I was very intrigued to see what the fuss is all about. I must admit, physics was not one of my favourite subjects at school but after visiting CERN it made me see physics in a new light. It is one of the largest and most well-known scientific laboratories in the world and is also the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Unfortunately I was not able to see the Large Hadron Collider or the inside of the Globe of Science & Innovation area on my visit, but our amazing CERN guide allowed us to spend more time at the other buildings. He took us to the ATLAS mural wall and the ATLAS visitors Centre. Inside the centre we were able to see the detector parts and the control room. To conclude our visit we were given a 30 minutes Detector Slideshow by the guide who helped us understand more about the mechanisms of ATLAS so we could build up a picture of them in our heads.
Our next two visits of the day were museums- The Red Cross Museum and The Natural History Museum.
Located in Geneva's International area (opposite the main entrance to the United Nations), the Red Cross Museum is recently renovated and offers a unique opportunity to explore humanitarian history in further detail. With the museum consisting of 3 different parts (defending human dignity, restoring family links and reducing natural risks) there is just so much for you to see and learn. The real life stories and interactions made me feel like I was there with them in that moment of history which was very heart-warming. With each person having a different story to tell you can get lost in there all day but unfortunately I couldnâ€™t as we had another museum to visit.
We made it to the Natural History Museum with just 30 minutes to have a look around before closing time. As it is the largest natural history museum in Switzerland, we knew as soon as we entered we would not have enough time to browse all four floors but that didnâ€™t stop us from trying! By closing time we managed to see just 2 floors which where so fascinating that I wish had the chance to see the rest. The first and second floor that we saw were filled with stuffed and preserved animals such as giraffes, lions, different types of birds/ sea creatures and a massive elephant! There were even animals there that I have never even seen before.
After a day full of learning about animals and scientific stuff, I think it was time for some fun! I have always wanted to do outdoor ice skating like you see in the movies so we took a nice walk to Parc des Bastions taking in the sites of Geneva before darkness fell. It was 6pm when we arrived at the outdoor skating rink and although the night was dark, the beautiful Christmas lights which surrounded the ice rink lit up the night sky. It looked truly amazing and so was the price. At 2CHF to skate (including skate hire) Ice Skating is probably the cheapest activity Geneva has to offer and is especially fun, fitting perfectly in with the Christmas spirit! We skated for around 30 minutes before temperatures got too cold and we decided to head back to the hostel for our hot evening meal. We had a very filling pasta dish with a soft drink and then a small desert to finish off the evening.
The end is near!
Our last day in Geneva was also my birthday so we got up early, had a quick breakfast and checked-out, leaving our luggage in the hostelâ€™s secure lockers so we could make the most of my birthday. We only had 2 excursions to go to which means that we could spend the afternoon shopping.
Our first visit of the day was to the ICT Discovery Centre. As we were not in a group as such, this was a self-guided visit and we walked around the centre learning more about information and communication technologies from the very heart of the ICT industry. We were both given a tablet and headphones so we could interact with the exhibitions the around the centre. It was very fascinating being educated on the evolution and exciting future of ICT and the role of the ITU that has changed peopleâ€™s lives everywhere. It really makes your question how would you live without the internet!
The History of Science Museum was our last and final visit in Geneva. Itâ€™s perfect for any science lovers and is perfect for anyone looking to understand the basic principles of science. The museum overlooks the beautiful park of La Perle Du Lac and looks like a mansion from the outside. We saw a variety of old scientific measurements apparatus such as microscopes, telescopes, clocks and much more from the 17-19th century. There were so many different kinds of the same apparatus from various ages in time to look at.
With just 3 hours to spare before we needed to head home to the airport, it was time for our shopping trip to Balexert shopping centre. Both Tram 14 and 18 stop within walking distance of the Shopping Centres. There are 3 floors inside with many shops from high street stores such as H&M and Zara to designers stores such as Diesel and Lacoste. The whole shopping centre is immaculate and was filled with elegant Christmas decorations from head to toe-a mini merry go round and tea cups for the kids and Santa was also there! After purchasing more than what could fit in my hand luggage we returned back to the hostel, collected our luggage and headed straight back to the airport for our flight home but not before thanking the staff at the hostel reception for making us feel very welcome.
After looking back at the last 3 days I can happily say, my liking for Geneva grew to love. Geneva is one of Europeâ€™s most beautiful cities and I would recommend anyone to visit, even if you are not a physicist like me.
Written by Tour Co-Ordinator Ayesha Williams
If you are interesting in visiting Geneva and exploring CERN please contact Adaptable Travel today for further information.