We are fresh off four lovely days in Geneva, which proved to be simultaneously smaller and larger of a city than I had imagined. Though those days were in no way jam-packed, we managed to wander into a craft beer festival, attend a much-anticipated wedding, visit an internationally renowned research institution, and climb the tower of a 15th century cathedral. Pretty efficient use of time!
We stayed in an Airbnb in Carouge, a city which was swallowed up by the growing municipality of Geneva sometime in the last few centuries. However, it maintains its own character, with its own churches, market, and town square. When we arrived the first afternoon, we sat in one of those squares munching on sushi and tea from the local Coop, waiting for our Airbnb to open up at check-in. To celebrate having our own kitchen again and our own space, I made a much-anticipated meal of red curry with chicken and rice which we had with a glass of red wine, our third-story window open to the street. Being in high summer, the sun would not set for another two hours. Afterwards, we wandered around the neighborhood, which is how we found La Festibière, which gathered what seemed like all the young people in Geneva with beards and buns to enjoy craft beer. We used our French skills to buy a cup (entrance to the festival) and tokens which let us sample deciliters of different sorts of beer, ranging from Double IPAs to amber ales to very sour ales indeed. We also listened to a swinging blues band and a hometown pop-metal band who had three guitarists and sounded just like Blink-182. The weather was warm and sultry, and I almost didn’t want to go to sleep.
The next morning was a bit colder and rainier, and I learned to my dismay that going to the market in Switzerland wasn’t quite like going to the market in France with Sam and Sarah. Everything was quite expensive here – like 7 CHF (~7 USD) for a kilo of green peppers! So we went to the supermarket instead to get a few staples like pasta sauce and only stopped back at the market for one thing: freshly made pasta. We picked up three each of two very large heavy cannellonni variations (au viande, and épinards avec ricotta), which I wasn’t sure how to cook, but it turned out needed to be baked with sauce and cheese over it. Thus we had a second lunch at home with wine, and it all turned out to be quite delicious, even if it was expensive for a homemade meal. After a nap, we started to get ready for the wedding ceremony and dinner. While we were intending to leave the house around 4:30 pm for the tram, we were greeted at the door with a burst of heavy rain and gusting winds. After eying each other’s wedding clothing (dress for me, blazer and leather shoes for Steve) and trying to get a few Ubers and other services which all canceled on us, we decided to stay put for the time being. It ended up being a wise decision, because it began to hail as well. For the next twenty minutes, the storm vented its fury on the outside, and outdoor furniture from nearby restaurants even fell over in the street. We finally ventured out when it had slowed down, and the rain was no longer going horizontally. Still, my sandaled feet immediately were soaked in freezing rain, and we missed the first tram. At the transport to our next bus, we waited at the bus stop for at least half an hour through an abhorrent traffic jam before Sam’s brother materialized out of the air to bring us over in his car. Thank goodness! About an hour late, we were some of the last guests to arrive at the wedding location, which, just to put the cherry on the sundae, had also recently lost its power in the storm. The venue was darker and lit with candles throughout, and while guests drank champagne and made conversation with each other, some men in work overalls and boots walked around in the background with scowls trying to get the electricity back on. Fortunately, it had not dampened Sarah or Sam’s spirits, and soon after we arrived, the ceremony commenced. Sam’s mother conducted the ceremony, and Sarah’s mother read a lovely excerpt from the homily that their pastor from Tennessee had written for the Nashville ceremony. Steve and I took part in one ritual in the wedding, the handfasting, where we helped tie a red yarn around their hands to symbolize passion and love. It was a really lovely ceremony, and it made both of us think of our own ceremony just a year ago.
Afterwards, the sun had decided to come out again, and we had the reception in the garden where we enjoyed drinks and snacks while also taking family photos. Steve and I were reunited with Sam’s grandmother, whom we met five years ago while we were traveling in France on our big trip. We had visited her and her husband (Sam’s grandfather), who passed away a few years ago, in Montchanin-les-Mines, which was a very small mining town in a rural part of Burgandy, and I remembered well her excellent cooking as well as the quaint house they lived in. She was actually delighted to see us and remembered me but not Steve, which made us all laugh. I scrounged up enough French to speak with her a little bit about how much we enjoyed being guests at their house, and it made her pretty happy.
Finally, the dinner was ready after the delay from the lack of electricity, and we sat down at a table of fellow international friends. There were a table each for the French and American sides of the family, as well as French and Swiss friends of Sam’s, and the final table was made up of us American friends and international friends who had come to join them. We were joined by the happy couple for the first course, and we enjoyed the food as well as the conversation with our new friends. The dessert was an especial favorite for me, which was called craque-en-bouche, literally meaning “cracks in your mouth”. It turned out to be cream puffs which were glazed with a hardened caramel-like sauce which had a pleasant crunch to it, with a side of raspberry sorbet. All the food was absolutely delicious, and the waiters kept champagne, red and white wine, and even seltzer water flowing throughout. We ended the evening with disco lights, dancing, and even though the lights went out again, we hardly missed it. When we grew too tired, we said goodbye to Sam and Sarah, and wished them well on their honeymoon next week to the Caribbean!