I left Gatwick in the gloom and within that magical minute found myself squinting in the brightness and joy of what could have been a summer day. Alright, let's be honest, we've had a great summer this year, so there's nowt to complain about, but you can't get too much of a good thing and I'm already missing wearing tee-shirts and shorts and not having to bother about umbrellas and raincoats. Now, as we head towards mid-September (in fact, we're past the midway point) the summer is but a memory and all we have to look forward to is, well, er, winter gloom and people counting down the shopping days until Christmas.
|Room 205, Les Nations hotel, Geneva. There's Swiss chocolate in the fridge.|
Bad weather when you're alone is even more depressing than if you've got someone to talk to; alright, I'm not a complete loner, but it just so happens that tonight, I'm alone. Actually, I'll be alone for the rest of this trip and I was alone last night 'enjoying' a pizza in a small trattoria virtually next door to my hotel, the Les Nations hotel. Sometimes I don't mind being on my own. Last night was fine as I'd arrived later than expected and by the time I got to the hotel and sorted things out, it was gone 9pm so I opted for the small restaurant recommended by the hotel's receptionist.
|The glamorous view from room 205, Les Nations hotel, Geneva|
It was pleasant in its own way: plain, but cosy and friendly and I enjoyed a pizza and a couple of glasses of the house red. Eating late, however, is not good. I fell asleep initially, but then woke up around 0230hrs and couldn't really get back to sleep. In all honesty, I should have gone to the same restaurant tonight, but the need to inject a bit of variety in to my stay in Geneva forced me out of my comfort zone and into a taxi. I headed for Geneva railway station, crossed the tracks (not literally, but via the station) and found myself on 'the other side of the tracks'. There were restaurants a plenty and I had to simply choose one.
I found an Indian restaurant, but I have a new rule – one that I made up there and then, in the rain-soaked streets – that I wouldn't have an Indian meal unless I was in the UK or in India itself. Why, I don't know, but it's something to do with getting food poisoning and being stuck in Geneva and so on. Having said that, I'd imagine India itself would be a worse place to go down with food poisoning and let's not forget that I once went to Belgium on business, ordered the chicken and was firing on all cyclinders way into the night. Not very pleasant.
I settled for an Italian restaurant again, although this one was a little more upmarket than yesterday, not that I hadn't yearned for the simplicity of yesterday's trattoria and had even considered taking a taxi back there before common sense told me to just get on with it, find a restaurant, have something to eat and head back to the hotel. I found Le Milan on the Rue Chaponniere and knew immediately that I'd picked a good place to eat.
I started with smoked salmon and parma ham with salad leaves and tomatoes and then opted for veal in a marsala sauce. Very nice. There was also a half bottle of Italian Cabernet Sauvignon and some Pellegrino mineral water and, being as I had no companion, I read a trade magazine. After the meal I considered walking home in the dark, but the poor weather (the driving rain) forced me to take a cab to the hotel and here I am writing this blogpost and wondering what to do next. Except that I know what I'm going to do next: I'm going to bed as it's now 1038hrs.
Les Nations is a pleasant hotel, although there's no restaurant (only a breakfast room). My room, room 205, is fine; it even has a two-ring electric cooker and a mini bar that is actually full of stuff (chocolate, soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits (I've eaten the chocolate and indulged in a mineral water, but that's my lot. Another reason I like this hotel is the fact that it trusts its guests. All the coat hangers have the conventional hook arrangement and not those awful hook-less affairs that take an age to work out how to secure them to the rail in the wardrobe.
Last night I slept very badly and I put this down to eating later than usual, although the same, give or take, happened tonight, so I'm anticipating a poor night's sleep.
Geneva seems like a pleasant enough sort of place, if not a little on the pricey side. It's not a threatening city and the general vibe is friendliness tinged, perhaps, with a bit of boredom. One more day of conference and then it's time to head home again. I'm hoping for some better weather tomorrow.
My eyes are feeling a little heavy and a wall-mounted Samsung television awaits my attention, not to mention Graham Greene's Stamboul Train, which I've almost finished. I'd better go.