Though born in Budapest, András Barta has called Geneva home since he was just a baby. This Jack-of-all-trades couch-surfing enthusiast–who has worked as a bookseller, financial advisor, bartender, and flight attendant–is now helping to lead a small business while writing for Spotted by Locals in his spare time. “I discover Geneva a bit more every day,” he says, “and I love every minute of it!” Here are a few of András’s favorite things about the cultural capital of French-speaking Switzerland.
Geneva is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the Old Town.
Summer is the best time to visit my city because that’s when the Fêtes de Genève is in full swing and the city is at its most festive.
You can see my city best from France, from the top of Mont Salève. Genevans like to think the mountain belongs to us, though.
My city’s best museum is the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire because of the quality and breadth of subjects and artifacts it presents.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that it’s really easy! Public transport runs on time and goes everywhere.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Bains des Pâquis! Whatever the season, there is always something to do in this dynamic beach area.
My city really knows how to celebrate Escalade, a commemoration of Geneva’s victory over invading Savoyards in 1602. Everyone gets dressed up and the parade is magnificent.
For a fancy night out, I would start with a delicious burger at the Calamar before heading out for a drink, maybe at the Fenomeno bar, in the Pâquis neighborhood. By evening’s end, head to the Palais Mascotte to dance the night away!
Just outside my city, you can visit CERN, otherwise known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Be sure to make reservations in advance, because this particle physics lab is well worth a visit. Your inner nerd will thank you.
My city is known for being the center of the world for international business and politics, but it’s really that, and so much more! Drawing people from all around the world, Geneva also offers amazing film and music festivals and varied cultural events and conferences all year round.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I make a home-cooked meal for friends or invite myself over to their place for cheap entertainment, delicious food, and good company.
To escape the crowds, I hide in the bookstore/café in the basement of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be George Clooney because it is classy, worldly, all over the news all the time, and, somehow, people working for the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations love it.
The dish that represents my city best is the very Protestant plum pie, and Calvinus beer is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at the Kraken bar for the beer and pretty much any bakery in Geneva if you crave the pie.
Immeuble Clarté, by famous architect Le Corbusier, is my favorite building in town because is has a simple beauty that feels timeless. It was also built from glass and steel–materials rarely used at the time.
The most random thing about my city is never knowing when its most famous landmark, the Jet d’Eau, will be visible. It is switched on or off depending on which direction the wind blows. Try explaining that to tourists expecting to see it on their only day in town.
The first customer of the day in a tiny bookstore trying to pay for a postcard costing 2 francs with a 1,000 franc note could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should smell the flowers in the Botanical Garden.
In the summer you should meet for drinks and a swim at Tropical, a “mini resort” owned by the city on the shores of Lake Geneva.
In the fall you should kick and jump in leaves in the Parc des Bastions.
In the winter you should eat fondue outside at Bains des Pâquis.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the free ice-skating rinks (and skates, too) provided by the city during the winter months.
The best book about my city is Léman Arctique, which is about the extreme ice storm that hit Switzerland in 2012. The book documents it wonderfully.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Goin’ Down Geneva,” a great blues song by Van Morrison.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it’s one of most diverse and livable cities on Earth, attracting people from all over while offering the best of Europe!