We saw the internet box! Well, what is on display is the original proposal by the CERN scientist who invented the internet and the original server. The server has a handwritten sticker on it saying, "don't turn this off!". The proposal was drafted by the scientist for his supervisor outlining his idea. His supervisor wrote at the top "vague, but exciting!" Wonder how many revolutionary ideas start out the same way- vague but exciting. It was an enjoyable morning. It was moving being where so much science is being discovered. We bought a few souvenirs to remember the day. Det55 could have done with a little less of the science and a little more of the gift shop.
I also wanted to go on a tour of the United Nations building while we were in Geneva. The work the UN does is so important. Like so many other things it is very underfunded. Once we got to the UN grounds it took us a while to find the right building for the tour. It's not the one with the huge chair out front missing a leg that is symbolic of land mine injuries, the avenue of flags and the guard out front. The complex could use some signs but we eventually found our way after asking a couple of people. We arrived about 10 min after the 10:30am morning tour in English started. We were in luck though because they had added another tour that day at 11.
After going through security, showing my passport and getting a photo id visitor badge we waited for the tour to begin. It was a very worthwhile hour. Even the kids said it went by quickly. There are over 40 conferences and meetings a day. It is said to be one of the busiest conference centers in the world. The day we were there UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in the building for a meeting. We didn't see him but did see several people in suits heading here and there.
We were able to go into several of the conference rooms. There are 6 official languages at the UN- Spanish, French, Italian, English, Russian and Arabic. We learned about the main mission areas for Peace, Human Rights and Well-being. It was fascinating and I was so glad we were able to be there. I felt a bit verklempt and I hope whenever the kids hear about the UN they think of the time they spent in the actual chambers where debates are held and decisions are made. Ltmgamer declared he wanted to invent something to disable land mines. We also picked up a few souvenirs about the UN. Some of our UN photos accidentally got deleted so I am hoping Paul is able to retrieve them.
The Swiss make it very easy to travel around. The major cities give visitors free transportation cards if you stay in a hotel, hostel or campground. The cards are good on the buses, trams and boats. We used the Geneva transport card to travel to CERN, the UN, a boat on Lake Geneva and a lovely park near the old city. No one ever checked for the card so I don't think it would have mattered if you had one or not.
Geneva was very clean, transportation was fast and easy and the weather was great. The standard of living here is very high.
We spent a long time in a large park near the old city. There are about 14 or 15 supersize chess sets and more table top chess sets nearby. It seemed to be a gathering place for old men to play chess and talk with friends. The kids found an open board and played for quite a long time. I went off and found sandwiches and drinks and brought them back.
Ltmgamer noticed people playing ping pong and went off to watch. He really wanted to play so I told him how to ask in French and he bounded off. A little while later he was playing ping pong with one of the people. I was so proud of him. He played with a few different people, each one giving him pointers on how to hold the paddle. One fellow who spoke a bit of english played with him for a long time. In the photo of Ltmgamer and the 4 gentlemen, he's explaining about our trip.
The night before we left we stopped at a little restaurant and tried fondue and escargot. Ltmgamer had really wanted to try escargot after seeing Rick Steves eating it in a Travels in Europe episode. Enmgamer liked the fondue, none of the kids liked the escargot.
We returned to the hostel and prepared for leaving the next day. I wanted to do a load of laundry and had a bit of a fiasco trying to get that done. I didn't understand apparently how long it would take so when I returned to put the clothes in the dryer the wash was still going and the timer said it had another hour and 40 min! I then got locked out of the laundry room when it closed up at midnight so had to dry the load in the morning. That wasn't in the plans. It takes a long time for the dryers here to dry clothes. We checked out and hung out in the game room in the hostel until the clothes mostly dried then we headed to the train station. We had to rush a bit to make the train on time but we did. The rest of our travels in Switzerland were done using the "Swiss Pass" I bought before we left.
It is great! It covers, buses, trains, boats and gives free access to 450 museums, plus 50% off the mountain train excursions. Plus, wait there's more - there's a free family card so kids under 16 travel for free with an adult. Bonus! Otherwise Switzerland is expensive but the swiss pass has been a real help.
I will draft a post on our week in the mountain cabin but right now the kids and I have to catch a train for Luxembourg!
Below are a few more photos from our time in Geneva.