Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Up until now, we've been satiating ourselves with, to be quite frank, copious amounts of alcohol. Anybody who knows me would know that I'm not a big drinker at home; however there's something that has seemed to snap in our brains; possibly the fact that I'm in a strange city with a group of people that I don't really know - the loosening effect of alcohol is a comfort and an ice-breaker. It can't last, however, and I think the spirit is beginning to wane. I've spent the last few days since my previous post basically drifting; hanging out here doing nothing but looking at YouTube videos and playing an addictive (but unforgivably and sometimes frustratingly hard!) game called Uplink.

One brief respite to all this was a trip to Nyon, a mere 20 minutes by train from Geneva. I initiated the trip; which consisted of a text message to everyone. It wasn't long before all but one had agreed to go. I think the others had been doing much as I had, and the boredom and frustration of doing nothing when one expects to be constantly going compelled us to do something. I didn't know much about Nyon, but I knew it was close-by and cheap to get to and somewhere else. That was enough. Although I obviously haven't explored all the merits of Geneva, I find myself already running out of ideas for entertainment that doesn't involve spending large amounts of money.

Nyon had the air of a ghost town when we reached it; we can't have seen more than 10 people in the 10 minute walk from the small train station to the lake shore. When we got to the shore though, we could see where all the crowds had gathered. There was an impressively large flea-market going on, all along the lake shore. There were hundreds of stalls, selling basically everything. The atmosphere was pleasant; even though there didn't seem to be much worth buying if you weren't an antiques collector. The sellers seemed to be much more interested in having a day out chatting to prospective buyers than making money - any profit would have been just an added bonus, I think. I wandered around the market for a bit; not with any intention of buying anything but just to soak in the congenial atmosphere and to pass away more time - there wasn't exactly an overload of things to do in Nyon. unfortunately it was again a cloudy day, and what would have been impressive views of mountains to the South were masked in fog - as usual.

The Alps from just above the lake in Nyon. Every time we go somewhere scenic it's bloody foggy!

After our walk through the stalls of the flea-market, we went to what seems to be the only other thing to see in Nyon on a Sunday: the castle. This is a pretty looking castle from the outside:

It's got a watermark from a programme called photomatix, which allows you to make HDR images. If you don't know what they are, it doesn't really matter!

Nyon has some Roman ruins - apparently it used to be a major Roman port.

Inside however, it's a different story. They have taken a perfectly serviceable castle, and turned it into some sort of bizarre modernist museum-cum-art installation. The insides are filled with pretentious art with stupid descriptions, dull displays of ceramics, and creepy photographs of random Victorian-era people. In the main none of it is historical, except for the cells which have been preserved - these have some interesting graffiti dating back to at least 1820 (even one of these houses a video player and TV playing an arty repetitious video consisting of a few images - my pet-hate withing the world of modern art) , and a very meagre description of what each floor had been used for in the past. I can't understand it, it seems to be meaningless, and a waste of Nyon's only tourist attraction. Oh well. Each to their own I suppose.

There were about twenty or so of these odd statues around the castle. Very authentic, indeed...

Disheartened by the castle, which looked promising, but still happy to have done something, we got the train back to Geneva early. Our wish to make the most of our time here was still unfulfilled. We're in some kind of strange twilight zone - we're not quite tourists but we feel we should be; we can't treat it fully as a holiday (for financial reasons as much as anything else) but we're not exactly full-time residents either. We don't have that many hours of college, not enough to take over our lives anyway. So we have to make the most of this once-off opportunity. It's difficult to strike a balance between just living here, and doing the whole touristy thing. It's not something I anticipated before coming over here, and I reckon it's going to be a big challenge not going home dissatisfied.

Further to what I was talking about in the previous paragraph, I'm tempted to get up really early tomorrow and go somewhere. Sion looks interesting. I chose to go to Switzerland mainly to do stuff like hiking, and there seems to be a fair bit of that going on there. And it's not too far away either - so the expense wouldn't be that great. It's getting pretty late though - so who knows if I'll actually be able to go! I'll see how I feel in the morning I guess. Wish me luck!