Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not at all lost.

This was our welcome to Geneva on the day we went to visit the Geneva home of the United Nations, and it should have been a warning.
Moments after seeing that incomprehensible sign, we saw this one.

And then this one.

Ah. Now it all makes sense. We weren't too worried, though. As my Great-aunt Winn used to say, "I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'll know when I get there." So we kept moving.

We were in a rush to make it to a noon-hour tour of the United Nations' Geneva office. We made it to the tour entrance at 12:05 p.m. and were turned away. What they don't explain on their website is that you have to arrive at least 15 minutes early in order to go through the security processing (which includes a photo identification badge).

The next tour wasn't until 2:30 p.m., so we wandered down to Ariana, the Swiss museum for ceramics and glass. The building itself was beautiful. Each of the pillars on the upper level was unique, but I didn't even notice it until Winkie pointed it out.

No two pillars were the same.
 There were so many beautiful pieces, including some rather modern pieces.

It looks like coral, but it's actually glass.
I just loved this bust.

The detail in the porcelains of the 17th century was breathtaking.

Japanese "imari" pottery.
And this little Meissen cup and saucer (below) must have been designed for me or my niece Diane -- it comes with a little cup-holder for stability, so you won't spill your hot chocolate.

Someone needs to re-issue this design. But bigger, and with a bigger handle. And a lid.
Wait, that's what a travel mug is, isn't it?
I didn't realize that Nyon, Switzerland, where my sister lives, has a strong history in ceramics.

A carefully-painted example of Nyon ceramics.
After a quick lunch, we headed back to the United Nations tour entrance -- early enough that we wouldn't be sent away unhappy again.

As we entered the building, we realized why they had rejected us earlier: the security process was quite thorough (thank goodness I had remembered my passport this time) and included a time-stamped photo identification card. I found the various meeting rooms quite interesting.

This was the ceiling on the first meeting room we saw. Kind of mesmerizing.

The light changed as you moved around.

On the other hand, the ceiling in the UN High Commission on Refugees meeting room was . . . interesting.

Is that . . . mould?
Picture from a Mormon Homeschooling site.
Um, yah, I'd say it's mould. But according to our tour guide, it was supposed to look like the surface of the ocean, as if you, the viewer, were under water.

Sing along with me: Under the sea, under the sea-ea!
No . . . it still looks like mould. And it looks like it's about to fall on us.

That does not look remotely like anything I have seen when looking up towards the sky from under water.
The falling bits are intentional.

According to our guide, it took the artist and nine assistants many long months to create this masterpiece. I kept wondering if the artist realizes that 90% of the people who see this ceiling have to stifle an urge to laugh.

On the other hand, Aunt Winkie quite liked it. So, you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The older part of the building, built between 1929 and 1936, has a strong Art Deco style.

That's probably the most impressive copier room I've ever seen.
(I can't believe I snapped a picture of a photocopier room at the UN.)
The tour was a rushed hour, leaving little time to look at some of the displays in the grand hallways.

Nighttime Walk to the Transit Site | B. Sokol
Silhouetted by headlights, former Angolan refugees carry their belongings towards a transit site
after disembarking a train which has brought them from Kinshasa, DRC on 19 August 2014. 
Remember those signs at the top of this blog post? This was the point when a little bit of clear signage would have been helpful. On our way to find a bus or train, we passed this sculpture.

Broken Chair 

The sculpture represents the efforts to stop the use of landmines and cluster bombs.

Long story short: we kind of got lost as we attempted to use public transit, but made it to the ancient centre of Geneva after all, but it was a bit of an adventure. By the time we got to the hill, Winkie's artificial knee was troubling her, so she opted to sit and have a coffee while Pat and I followed our noses up the steep lanes and alleys.

Ceiling of the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre 
In la Chapelle des Macchabées

The plaza in front of the cathedral had some unique seating options.

After our walkabout, we returned to the lower streets to find Winkie well rested. We made our way down to what we thought was an easily-located landmark, so that my brother-in-law could pick us up. Not knowing the city well, however, we managed to find its busiest intersection.

Or, at least, that's what he claims took him so long to reach us. (Wink!)


  1. well, that is an interesting ceiling indeed. and I totally did start singing Under the Sea -- even though, I am not entirely convinced it looks like the sea at all. I am terrible at road signs - I always get lost. I would not have stood a chance here at all.

    1. GPS navigation, even on an iPhone is actually quite good, but I didn't have a data plan for this trip. I think, were I to do it again, I would pay the $40 to get one.


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