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Geneva Travel Tips & Suggestions

Geneva is depressing. — Kate
This is the best place that I've been. — Priya
Geneva is a place to chill out. You need to have money to enjoy this little jewel and therefore it's for the older crowd. It's very clean and quite safe and can be boring over a long stay. — maya
The streets are almost startlingly clean, the lines are straight and crisp, mocking the wave-like undulations of Rome's Via Nazionale, where I live. Windows are crystal clear and close completely (if you've ever been to Italy, you know what a change that is). The trams slip along the street smoothly and silently, smirking with Swiss superiority at the rumbling roaring buses of Rome. And not a hint of graffiti in sight. I almost wanted to throw some litter on the ground to make myself feel more at home. I didn't. I first chose Geneva for this expedition based on a description in a Robert Ludlum novel. The image he created of the Swiss sun shining off Lake Geneva against the backdrop of Mont Blanc and the Alps has stuck with me. "Glittering" was I think the word he used. Upon further research, I've seen that other Swiss cities like Zurich or Bern are considered more appealing to the tourist, yet I can't regret my decision, as capricious as it was -- Geneva does indeed glitter. Unlike some European cities that are best showcased at night (see Madrid), Geneva loves the sun, and the sun loves Geneva. Situated on both sides of a long fingerlike harbor on Lake Geneva, it's a city based around water, as all great cities should be. Something about the human soul needs the peace that water brings, and Geneva's lake is happy to provide it. Surrounded by mountains that reflect as beautiful snow-bottomed stalactites, colored by a clean light emanating from the crisp unpolluted skies, the lake provides an ever-changing visual appeal. When you think Geneva, think of the lake. Also working in the city's favor is its international character. I began a project of photographing each ethnically representative restaurant or shop along the main street, but I gave up after about fifteen, somewhere between the Egyptian kebab palace and the Neapolitan trattoria. The place seems almost American in its multinational feel. Then of course there are the people, the most important factor in judging any city. Polite, reserved, yet seemingly genuinely happy. In contrast to the passionate tortured souls of Italy, Genevans give the impression that they are pretty much content to be alive. Very pleasant people. Nothing to stir the fires of the heart, but refreshingly pleasant. No description of Geneva would be complete, however, without mentioning money. The prices are shocking, astronomical. A Big Mac value meal at McDonald's runs about $10 US. (It may or may not have been super-sized. I have a bad habit of saying "oui" to anything a cashier asks me.). And that's the cheapest food you can get. Some day I would like to try a real Swiss fondue, but I just couldn't bring myself to shell out twenty bucks for a blob of cheese. We can only hope that the exchange rate for the Swiss Franc calms down a bit in the future, because I would like to return. I would like to return, which means Geneva accomplished all that can be expected of a place in a two-day trip. It made me want to come back to Switzerland. Next time, I'll bring more money. — Eddy Boston
Geneva is not a big tourist city. You can see most of its attractions in one or two days. For nightlife, try the area around the train station or in the Paquis section. — Robert S.
I have been living in Geneva for 7 months, and it feels like forever! Expensive, difficult housing, absolutely no night-life, And the most depressive thing is you always feel like an alien. People come and go makes you always meet new people, but always loose some in the same time. Its not even a city, its a giant airport. — Rina
I visted Geneva to see some friends I had met while travelling. And yet, Geneva left me cold. The locals I met were very very hospitable, but I think the town as a whole is very austere. My travels in the rest of Switzerland were fantastic, but I'd have to say, give Geneva a miss if you're looking for atmosphere or are on any kind of budget. I stayed there, yes, but I sure as hell could not afford to. I have done pretty extensive travels in Europe, and Geneva was by far the most expensive city I have ever been to. Switzerland was my favorite contry. Go figure. Perhaps the Genevans can be thought as having a more French mentality than a Swiss one. — Andrea
I never knew depression until I stayed in Geneva. It looks beautiful but it is so sterile and the local mentality is austere and exclusive. Calvin made the locals believe that they constantly live in purgatory. My advice: visit it - because it is beautiful - but don't let it effect you. — Mary
Geneva is small, but friendly, clean, and pretty. I'm staying there for the summer, and I can tell you that it can be difficult to find fun places to party at!! Try Chat Noir in Carouge (but it's far from the hostel) or the club SYP or the Alhambar. Every year at the beginning of August there is an 8 day festival thats pretty cool, but really there aren't that many things to see other than an incredible number of parks, the UN, and a few random museums. Also in summer there are free outdoor concerts about twice a week. — Anne
Geneva is nice but very upscale. Definitely take the train around the lake to nearby Leysin and stay at the Hiking Sheep. If you get there for a summer celebration, you can watch the fireworks from a cliff looking over the lake. — Josh

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