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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 46.2038, 6.13996
This morning after breakfast, we boarded a tram to the Palais des Nations, currently the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations and formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations. This location houses the humanitarian side of the UN, including world poverty and disaster relief, disarmament, the environment, and human rights. We hadn't entered expecting to feel warm and fuzzy, but the aims of this place and the excitement of our guide about them was almost moving. We were able to enter the meeting chamber of the Human Rights Commission. The room was donated in 2008 by the King of Spain. Its ceiling was a work of art that took over 26 tons of paint and was supposed to look like a view of the ocean from the perspective of the sea floor. As one moved to different areas in the room, the dominant colors changed, much like people's perspectives on the world depend upon their own location. Each color was supposed to represent one of the many nationalities of our planet. We had to leave this room fairly quickly as the UN-HRC was scheduled to resume meetings shortly regarding the conflict in Libya. Finally we ended up in the UN General Assembly room. Here, the original League of Nations met only three times before Germany's invasion of Poland launched the Second World War. The UN General Assembly only convened here once, in 1988, as the U.S. refused a visa to PLO leader Yassir Arafat. Most of the political side of what the UN does occurs at the New York headquarters. The visit was enjoyable and informative and we spent more time than usual lingering in the bookstore afterward.
From there it was back to the tram and to our hotel to drop off our purchases and head to the Old Town for a picnic lunch consisting of food and drink bought at the local Coop grocery store. We sat under the shade of trees in a nearby park and enjoyed our definition of a “quick lunch,” meaning we could eat at our own pace and leave when we wanted without having to wait ages for “the bill.” Next it was time for some last minute souvenir shopping and to pack our bags for tomorrows trans-Atlantic journey.
We regrouped around 6pm for a taxi to the Jardin Anglais where we would meet our dinner cruise ship, the Savoie, a steam powered paddleboat dating to 1914 and yet beautifully restored. The ship took us on a roundtrip path between the French and Swiss sides of Lake Geneva, stopping occasionally at small villages. We were able to see a double rainbow and later, a beautiful Alpine sunset that started off with shades of pink between the water below and clouds above and later turned into magical hues of blue and silver. We enjoyed a gourmet three course meal with a fish that translated to “best of the breams,” a white fish native to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. Though somewhat hesitant to try a fish dish, we were happy with the choice and the meal was terrific, just like the bill. Oh well!
Tonight was the grand finale of yet another adventure, where we, the Pilgrims, always find new places to visit and new things to learn. This journey was no exception.
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