My second weekend in France I decided to cross the border and explore Geneva.
From where I live it's a ten minute drive to the train station and a ten minute train ride into the city. The original plan was to meet up with another au pair I'd met at school and take the bus into the city together. Some complications arose so we weren't able to go together but planned to meet up in Geneva later. The problem with that, which I failed to foresee, was that my phone doesn't work in Switzerland. More on that later.
So I figured out the way to the train station (couldn't use my GPS, because Switzerland) then figured out how to buy a train ticket successfully. The Coppet station is so small and rundown looking that I wasn't even sure I was in the right place initially. Fortunately, an Australian woman bought a ticket from the machine right behind me and was able to confirm that I had bought the correct ticket and to direct me to the correct platform.
Once I arrived in Geneva I realized the reality of my phone situation. It made for a frustrating start to my grand European Day-trip Adventure, not being able to reach my friend and realizing I was alone in a new city with a failed Plan A. After a moment of regrouping, I decided to walk around and find a good spot for a picnic lunch. Because food makes everything better.
Look at that teeny tiny little baby door! It had to have been like five feet tall at the most.
I had lunch in this little plaza around a beautiful monument. I didn't think to find out it's name, but I kind of took a selfie with it. This was my first solo trip while abroad and I sort of felt the need to snap a few pictures of myself just to prove I was there.
What up, American Steel? Way to represent.
After lunch I crossed to the other side of the lake and headed toward the Old Town.
I approached this church to read the signs on the outside. As I got closer I heard singing coming from the open door. I ventured inside and found an open-to-the-public concert. It was such a special moment! I took a little video. (let me know if it doesn't play, okay?)
This was one of my favorite streets. This part of the city got closer and windier the further up you went. I definitely daydream about having a little apartment in the Old Town and drinking my morning coffee while looking out one of these cute little windows. Naturally this apartment would be completely furnished from Ikea.
I love this patina.
Finally back at the train station. This is a toilet that costs 2 francs to use, in case you were wondering.
The train ride home. Even though I don't look it (dangit, resting-bitch-face) I had an awesome day. I was pretty beat!
This next photo is blurry because I'm an artist and this piece is entitled "train ride of destiny" and it symbolizes the human condition. Actually it's blurry because I'm not a good photographer and felt like a creep for taking a picture of that kid and his grandma. But it was supposed to be the mountains in the distance. Which you can't see anyways. So. Just know that the mountains are always there, everywhere you look. And it's amazing.
This trip was really special, not only because Geneva is a beautiful city, but because it entailed a lot of "firsts" for me. I figured out public transit (in a foreign country/language). I explored a foreign city completely alone. I didn't get lost!
It made me feel both very small and very powerful. Being surrounded by strangers speaking a dozen languages other than my own, not knowing a soul for miles, was a pretty surreal experience. I wouldn't say I felt lonely exactly, but I felt like I needed a companion with whom to process the experience. To make it real. It almost felt like I needed someone with me to validate my experiences, like just my doing them didn't make them real enough. Plus, being completely isolated and surrounded by people who didn't know me or care that I was there or what I was doing made me feel very small and insignificant. It's a surreal feeling knowing all the people who care about you are thousands of miles away.
On the other hand, at the end of the day I felt like such a bad-ass for doing a hard thing and going it alone and making it out on the other side. It was the sum of many small achievements that were ultimately very empowering. I figured out public transit. I explored a new city alone. I enjoyed my own company. I spoke French! haha. I do my best to celebrate each small victory because each day brings new growth. It would be easy to focus on my shortcomings, all the things I don't know or can't do or all the words I can't say, but if I did that then I would never have victory because perfectionism doesn't allow you to celebrate anything until you've reached complete perfection - which of course is impossible.
So I celebrate my small victories, and this weekend in Geneva was definitely a victory in my book.