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SWITZERLAND | Thursday, 1 May 2014 | Views [217] | Comments [2] | Scholarship Entry

The sky was too bright, the grass – too green, the lake – too blue. The yachts were too tiny and I couldn’t see the snow rug on sheer mountains. “I will take it,” I said, handing in a few silver coins to the postcard-seller. He smiled at me and, with a strong Arabic accent, said: “Thank You.”

The Lake Geneva was stunning. People were jogging and walking their dogs, families let their children go crazy. Tourists were taking pictures that unarguably looked more sound than the postcard I just bought.

I never send postcards. But there was something about Geneva - I wanted to occupy the whole passé bench, and write letters in French. There was something about the man selling those déclassé images - I felt like buying them all. There was something about the place – it inspired me.

On the white bench I sat. Leftwards, framed by the snow-capped mountains Mont Salève and Mont Blanc, I saw an endless lake, full of miniature white boats and people on their decks. In the middle, with gazillions of sparkly bubbles echoing the shape of the sail, burst the fountain, Jet d'Eau de Genève. Dazzling 500 litres of water per second, 140 meters up to the sky and back, at a speed of 240 km/h – who could believe Geneva’s landmark was not more than a pressure relief valve once?

Suddenly, I was no longer alone. Young-looking dark-haired man in a grey three-piece suit sat next to me, holding his smartphone, “Financial Times” and a sandwich. “Stereotypical Swiss,” I thought. As the President of the country, Didier Burkhalter, once said, “We are not the only ones that work, but we, Swiss, we love to work.”

The lake and its surroundings were neighbouring many major finance centres, banks, and international organizations. Having chosen authentic buildings rather than the glass skyscrapers for their headquarters, they all shaped the city as we see it now: vibrant yet tranquil, historic yet modern. Being full of surprising contrasts, Geneva welcomed everyone – from backpacker to diplomat and souvenir-seller, treating each of them with the world-famous Swiss hospitality. Although it may not for long be so, as immigration quotas are soon to be set as a result of rural voters having said so.

A little boy ran around the bench we sat on. He shouted at me, although I didn’t speak French. My neighbour was a bit too busy to notice him, and I searched for a pen in my bag. “Dear Friend,” for the first time in my life, I’ve started scribbling on the white side of the tourist-y postcard.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip



Nice story! Very much enjoyed.

  moresbbb May 1, 2014 8:27 AM


Thank you! I really appreciate this, especially from the writer that have caught my attention with his wonderful stories too!

  ievamaniusyte May 1, 2014 4:44 PM

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