Sunday, April 19, 2009

Relaxing Weekend on the Swiss-French Border!

Greetings from Geneva, Switzerland!

It's been ages since my last posting on this English blog! I've been meaning to post a new article here for quite some time, but what with my recent transfer to Switzerland from Singapore and all, I've been putting it off until today.

It's really about time that I posted an update here, lest my English blog be completely forgotten by my readers. It feels great to be back all the same!

For those of you who haven't been following my Japanese blog, I've been posted by my company to Geneva effective March 1 on a training assignment, for a period of 6 months.

It's been more than a month and a half since I got to Switzerland, and fortunately I've been enjoying my new workplace and living environment to the uttermost.

Anyway, in today's posting, I would like to tell you about my little trip this afternoon to Hermance, a tiny village in the outskirts of Geneva.

View Hermance in a larger map

As can be seen on the map above, Hermance is located on the Swiss-French border.

From the center of the village, it only takes two to three minutes to get to the French border by foot.

The Swiss-French border runs along a tiny brook...

...and the two countries are connected by this little bridge.

This is the Swiss customs building, but it stands empty with no customs officers standing on duty.

The picture on the left shows the French side of the border, in the village of Chens-le-Pont.

This is the customs building on the French side. Like its counterpart on the Swiss side, it stands empty, with no officers checking the comings and goings.

After crossing the bridge into France, if you turn around and look on the Swiss side, here's how it looks.

Seriously, if you are not paying enough attention, you wouldn't even notice that you are crossing a border.

Out of all the border crossings that I have done in the past (US-Canada, US-Mexico, China-Hong Kong, Singapore-Malaysia, and the ever-unforgettable Panmunjeom conference room in the 38th parallel Demilitarized Zone between North and South Koreas), this is the most casual, peaceful and hassle-free crossing I've ever experienced! I forgot to bring along my passport today, but it turned out to be totally unnecessary.

Back on the Swiss side in the village of Hermance, I spent an immensely enjoyable time taking a leisurely walk in the quite streets, lined with old beautiful buildings.

This is a charming cafe in the center of the village.

Most buildings in this village have gray walls, with green-colored decorative wooden shutters attached to the windows.

In Switzerland, I've begun to appreciate the beauty of simplicity and minimalism.

I saw a lot of wisteria trellises in this town.

The light purple color goes really well with the gray background!

Almost everywhere I went, the streets were almost empty.

It is so quiet that the only sound you hear is that of the birds chirping.

You feel really peaceful here!

This is one of the very few restaurants that I found in the village.

Having meals while sitting on the terrace on a day like this must be really delightful!

I really love this view of the back alley!

To me, these buildings look almost medieval.

It's as if they got frozen in time, and they won't change their appearances for decades, if not centuries.

I sure hope that if I have a chance to revisit this village years from now, these buildings will still look exactly the same!

In the past few weeks, the weather in Europe has been exceptionally nice and warm.

I saw a lot of flowers in full bloom today.

I am so glad that I visited this town in the right season of the year!

My last stop was at the street cafe in the town center.

I ordered a piece of strawberry cake and a cup of coffee.

The cake was really delicious!

Sitting on the terrace and slowly enjoying the yummy strawberry cake was really heavenly --- honestly, I felt that it was so great that it should be illegal!!!

Though it's by no means a famous village, and most likely you cannot find it in your Switzerland guide books, Hermance is indeed a lovely town worth visiting.

Hope in the coming months I get to discover a lot more beautiful towns and villages in Switzerland. Of course, as and when I make new discoveries, I will bring you updates on this blog to share the enjoyment!

Talk to you again soon!


Keith said...

Nice post! Switzerland must be a great place for a polyglot. Especially one learning French.

I have never experienced a border crossing. I should think that one day I will!

Uncle Polyglot said...

Hi Keith,

Many, many thanks for your comment!

Indeed, Switzerland is an exciting and interesting place to be for polyglots.

People take multilingualism for granted - using multiple languages is not only preferable, but also necessary for many people to survive and thrive in society.

Especially in cosmopolitan cities like Geneva and Zurich, you hear different languages being spoken every day, such as French, English, Italian and Portuguese.

I'm a bit surprised that you've never experienced border-crossing in your life. It's really an exciting experience in most cases, especially when you see a radical difference in language, culture and economy between the 2 sides of the border. Hope you'll have an opportunity to cross a border in the near future!

Thank you once again for following this blog. My only regret is that I have not been able to update it often enough, given my busy daily schedule.

Talk to you again soon!

Uncle Polyglot


By the way, I think it's super cool that you've been posting your videos on YouTube recently.

I'm thinking maybe I can do the same thing on YouTube in the near future, such that my readers can actually see and hear me on the Internet. It must be a lot of fun!

I'll let you know if I really decide to post my videos so you can check me out!