After 5 hours in Frankfurt, we landed in Geneva, Switzerland where we had a whopping 20 hours to kill. Our options were:
- Stay in Geneva, meet a friend, and rest up before heading back home
- Head to Berne, meet a friend, and rest up before heading back home
- Stay in Geneva, meet a friend, and head to Berne, meet the other friend, and in the process pull an all-nighter before heading back to Geneva to catch our morning flight home.
In true Monsooning style, we opted for #3: Go hard or go home, (or more appropriately, go hard and then go home). No matter how tired, underslept, or insomniac we were, we were going to do it all. It’s not everyday you get 20 hours in Switzerland as an included free layover.
So this is what we did.
5:30PM: We land in Geneva, Switzerland
5:50PM: We drop off our bags in airport lockers and buy our tickets
6:20PM: We take the commuter train from the airport to Switzerland (15 minutes)
6:45PM: We get lost looking for a Tram heading to Rive. It starts to rain.
7:00PM: We find a Tram heading to Rive. It starts to rain harder.
7:15PM: At Rive, we run into my friend from college, Natasha. Because we were poorly underdressed for the rain, she took us into her car and drove us up to her home to meet her grandparents. And that wasn’t serendipitous enough, I find out right then and there that Natasha and her family are from Iran; more specifically, her grandfather is from Esfahan. While in the car, Natasha and I both glared at each other.
A big WTF moment right here.
7:45PM: We arrive at Natasha’s home and meet her grandparents. From there, magical moments started to happen; we exchanged photos and stories of our time there. We learned that Natasha’s grandfather was expelled from Iran shortly after the 1979 Revolution, most of it due to his Jewish roots.
To this day he has been unable to return. Hearing that we had just visited his hometown of Esfahan greatly moved him, as it in turn we were deeply touched how he took us in as his own family.
9:15PM: We say our goodbyes
10:11PM: We hop on the train heading from Geneva to Berne ($52 USD a person!)
10:15PM: We pass out on the train
11:56PM: We arrive in Berne
Like how Ines went from a brief meeting in India to showing us around her home in Spain a few months later, Caty would be more than just a stranger on that very same trip in Spain: she would be my host and guide when I arrived out of the blue in her home in Switzerland a few months later. Such is fate. Such is the reason why I move.
12:45AM: After a few bathroom breaks, purchasing our return train tickets and getting some food, we were ready to take on Berne. Caty and her friend Aline then took us down the famously designed 6km shopping arcade with the imposing Marktgasse behind us.
1:45AM: We ended up by the Bear Pits, where we overlooked an adorable little village embedded within a park below where we were standing
2:00AM: We began a little hike up to the hill of Rosengarten to get a panoramic view of Berne at night
2:30AM: We descend the hill and walk back along the arcade to visit the former home of Albert Einstein
2:45AM: They take us to this international hang-out spot, which is a bar-lounge in the setting of a school gym/auditorium. Pretty relaxed, chill place. Exactly what we needed.
3:30AM: Back to the train station, but not before checking out another cool hang-out spot.
4:00AM: We find a 24/7 bar/lounge/club called RockGarden that’s actually located within the train station. It literally was the most perfect place I could have ever asked for – great location, great hours, great drinks, amazing music, space to dance, and nonjudgmental atmosphere. I literally feel it couldn’t have come at a more ideal time or place.
5:00AM: We say our goodbyes and board our train back to Geneva
7:00AM: We arrive at Geneva Airport, and hop on our flight back to NYC
Where do I begin…wow.
From Natasha to Caty, I could not have imagined a better end to our trip. Since its inception nearly 22 months ago, this blog has survived and thrived on the kindness of strangers who hail from all around the world. The last 20 hours in Switzerland — let alone the past week in Iran — have proven to us that there exists an inherent goodness in people you meet regardless of background, ethnicity, nationality, creed, or religion. You just have to wear that same kind of energy on your sleeve and these amazing souls will find you. And once that happens, countless, magical international adventures like these will await you.
– At time of posting in Bern / Belp , it was 46.4 °F – Humidity: 75% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds