My father, the brilliant man that he is, was chatting with me one sunny day when we were sitting on our porch in Geneva. We were chatting about how much Geneva really has to offer as a city, and how beautiful and inspiring it is to come to such a place and walk around its streets. My father, whilst sipping on his scotch, then gave the remark that Geneva truly is “the best kept secret in Europe”. This title and description immediately stood out to me – Geneva really is a European secret, a little piece of heaven hidden between Lac Leman, the Mont Blanc and the Swiss Alps. People rarely think to give it a glance, or that Geneva could be seen as a really “happening” city, but contrary to those beliefs, Geneva truly has a lot to offer.
I may have a biased opinion here, having lived in Geneva for 5 years and consequently Switzerland for 10, but Geneva truly is a place of diversity and wonder. Within a typical Geneva summer, there are hundreds of festivals going on around the city. The ever-famous “Festival de la Musique” takes place all around Geneva, hidden in little cracks and crevices within the streets where live music is played in the most unlikely of spots. You could be walking from a downtown hub like Rive and Bel-Air all the way up to the old town behind the main shopping areas in Geneva whilst listening to various styles of live music all around you. On top of the Festival de la Musique, August 1st, National Swiss Day and a very important (and fun) holiday in Switzerland is celebrated throughout the city. You can view the fireworks from anywhere, and most locals tend to venture on top of buildings in order to see a full display of them above the famous Jet D’Eau on Lac Leman. Also, you’re only a short trip away from the Montreux Jazz Festival – a huge concert festival, and second largest Jazz festival in the world, which takes place in early July and is only a short ride away from Geneva.
As well as the busy summer nights and festivals, Geneva is rich in culture and also very much steep in history. You can take a stroll through the old town behind the main shopping area of Bel-Air to discover Geneva’s rich Calvinist roots. There are churches and roads, which date back to the 12 century. Particularly, the St. Pierre Cathedral is a sight to see and truly shows just how far back Geneva dates as a city.
Personally, I am a huge nerd when it comes to learning about different cultures, peacekeeping and particularly International Affairs. Even though a big city like New York seems to hold much history in terms of International Relations and treaties, Geneva is also in the running. Let us not forget the four Geneva Conventions, drawn up in 1949, signed by the majority of nation states in the world pertaining to armed forces, prisoners of war and civilians in times of war. This was a huge monumental treaty in International Relation history that went down right in Geneva. If this wasn’t enough to convince you, you can also visit the headquarters of the UN, WHO, WTO and many more when in Geneva.
Geneva might not be everyone’s first stop on their European Adventure, but it truly is not a place that you would want to skip. Geneva is a bold, vibrant and beautiful city with plenty to offer, and I am proud to call it home.