with Joan Douma
Geneva was a wonderful location for exploring other parts of Europe, easily, and on three-day weekends with a holiday as I had no “leave time” having just joined the Government and Foreign Service.
My sister, Sharon, came for a two-week visit and I surprised her by a train trip to Venice (amazing the difference in the quality of train travel once we reached Milan to change trains and left the Swiss rail for the Italian rail!!!).
We stayed in a hotel right overlooking the water and traveled by a waterbus (Vaporetto) while in Venice to Murano (the celebrated home of Venetian glass-making since the 13th century) and another close small island. I remember that the first night my sister ordered calves liver with polenta and she was “hooked” and we returned to the same restaurant in our hotel for a repeat the following night, and I also walked the streets with her, so she could locate in little markets, fresh raspberries and clotted cream which she ingeniously kept cold in a little makeshift ice chest apparatus for her before bed snack! What a wonderful time these two sisters had together, and I shall never forget it!!
My good friend, Barb, who lived in Napa, California, came to visit me in Geneva and we made a train trip which took us to Zurich and then on to Lugano, where we discovered this charming little village on the lake, spending a couple of nights in a Pension, which I remember was adorned with bright pink flowers which seems to envelop the entire little white building, and we enjoyed walking along the lake during the day and taking a boat trip on the lake, and simply marveling at the beauty of the area. I remember a highlight of how the mist/fog would come down over the lake like a veil, a picturesque scene which I, in my many travels, and viewing many lakes, had not experienced before. I particularly remember one night, when I was sound asleep in our room and all of a sudden I heard this racket, jumped awake, and it was my friend, who heard a lightning and thunderstorm and leaped out of bed, opening the window wide and exclaiming, “oh, I LOVE it, I LOVE it”!!!! as the pouring rain came streaming into our bedroom.
Barb and I took another three day weekend trip, by fast train from Geneva to Paris, a city where it is just a sight to stand in the middle of this beautiful city and look to the right, to the left, up and down, in amazement of what one can see and experience, and of course we visited the famous art museum, the streets where artists were painting and displaying their works and enjoyed many tasty delights. One night when we were dining, to show what a small world it is? We started visiting with a couple sitting next to us and they were a couple from Napa, where Barb and I each grew up, who owned a winery in the valley. Barb and her husband became good friends with this lovely couple when each returned to Napa. It warmed my heart during the entire visit by Barb, to watch her exuberance and thrill at absolutely everything she experienced both in Geneva and elsewhere during her two-week stay in Switzerland.
There were a lot of visitors and a lot of shared experiences and when my friend, Ileta, came for a three week visit, I planned a trip to Vienna, Austria, as I knew what a thrill it would be for her to go to an opera and ballet, with her love and knowledge of music, and I announced my surprise and we flew to Vienna, stayed in another very unusual and interesting pension in the middle of the city, and not only saw these events but also a Spanish Riding School Lipizzaner performance and, of course, we enjoyed more than one meal of “wiener schnitzel” On a second three day weekend we traveled by train to Interlaken and further on to Grind weld, high in the mountains and Ileta, also being a nature lover of all species, spent hours just sitting by the big bay window gazing, happily, at all the scene offered her.
It must be clear by now that, for me, being in the company of my “special people” and observing them in pure delight of experience, was and is one of my “highlights of life”!!
In conclusion, Geneva, Switzerland was a perfect “first post” for this adventuresome 50-year-old woman, and we will move on from here next month to Izmir, Turkey, which was my second posting for, again, two years, on the coast of the Aegean, and my memories from that tour of duty.
Until then, fall is approaching quickly and another beautiful season to enjoy in my home here in Napa, California