Trip to Geneva – March 2018

Members of the South West & Channel Islands Region visit Geneva, 21-24 March 2018


At our Regional Meeting in March 2017, two Soroptimist International representatives at the UN in Geneva came to tell us about their work. From that visit came the suggestion that we should visit the UN in Geneva. Thanks to the efforts of Sabine Kinzer (SI de Nyon) who was one of the representatives and Daphne Dowsing (SI Tiverton) Regional President 2016-2018, that suggestion became a reality. Sabine also planned activities and entertainment during our visit to ensure we saw the best of Geneva and the surrounding area.

On Wednesday 21st March, 20 Soroptimists from 7 Clubs flew from Bristol Airport. The Clubs were SI St Austell & District, SI Bath, SI Plymouth, SI Taunton, SI Tiverton & District, SI Weston-super-Mere and SI Yeovil Sherborne & Districts. They were accompanied by 4 husbands (Soroptimisters!) from SI Taunton.

Wednesday afternoon was spent settling into accommodation, finding one’s bearings – and in true Soroptimist style – exploring good places to eat in the evenings!

On Thursday we went on a day trip around the north side of Lac Leman by train and bus. The morning and lunch was spent at Chaplin’s World to see the house and gardens where Charlie Chaplin lived for 25 years. Then on to Montreux at the east end of the lake to explore the historic Chateau Chillon.

On Thursday we had a day trip by train and bus. We travelled around the north side of Lac Leman, stopping at Vevey and then on to Veytaux/Montreux (Image courtesy of Lake Geneva Region Tourism)
Chaplin's World at Corsier-sue-Vevey, a museum and studio dedicated to Charlie Chaplin.
The Manor House where Charlie spent the last 25 years of his life with his wife Oona and eight children.  Marvellous photos, videos, letters and documents of family life and visiting celebrities.
What a view!  Looking from the manor house across the 10 acre park to the lake and mountains.
Sitting in the sunshine after lunch in the Tramp restaurant (!) and a tour around the Studio where they show the Chaplin films among film sets and memorabilia.
Chateau Chillon, the island castle, is an important historical monument in Switzerland.  The site is 1000 years old but the key period was from the mid 12th Century when it was the summer home of the Counts of Savoy.
The interior of the castle is full of courtyards and galleries linking the various buildings and towers.
The central Keep has lots of stairs and levels...
...But the view from the top is worth it!
The town of Montreux seen from the top of the Keep.
Soroptimists from seven Clubs in the SW&CI Region outside Chateau Chillon.
Members of SI Taunton at Chateau Chillon.
Members from SI St Austell, SI Plymouth and SI Tiverton at Chateau Chillon.

On Friday morning we had the visit to UNOG, the United Nations Office in Geneva, the main purpose of our visit. After a rather long queue by Swiss standards, we were taken round the buildings by our Portuguese tour guide and given an insight into the workings of the UN at that location. Staying in the International Area, we had lunch across the road at the Red Cross Museum.

International flags on the approach to the Palais des Nations, the world's largest conference centre for international peace and security.
The whole group - including Soroptimisters! - outside the visitors entrance to the UN building.
The original building was built between 1929 and 1938 to serve as the headquarters of the League of Nations.
When the League of Nations was dissolved in 1946, it was expanded and became the European headquarters of the UN.
The complex was expanded in the early 1950s and late 1960s.
One of the largest of the 30 conference rooms in the modern UN building. A focal point for multilateral diplomacy, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) services more than 8,000 meetings every year, making it one of the busiest conference centres in the world.
Members of SI Weston-super-Mere at the UN.
Walls of donated art works in the modern UN building.
Imposing marble corridors in the Palais des Nations.
The original League of Nations Council Chamber.
Soroptimist visitors listening intently to the tour guide in the Council Chamber.
The walls and ceiling of the Council Chamber are decorated with allegorical paintings by the Catalan artist, Jose Maria Sert, depicting technical, social and medical advances and a vision of a future free of conflict.
The ceiling in the Council Chamber.
More donations from member countries on display in the Palais des Nations.
Soroptimist visitors in the UN Assembly Hall which has seating for 2,000.
A reminder of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Monuments in the Parc des Nations, the tall tapering monument is a tribute to the conquest of space (donated by USSR) and the bronze Celestial Sphere donated by the US.
Peacocks roam the Parc des Nations.

Friday afternoon was an opportunity to do our own thing in couples or groups. It was glorious weather, still quite chilly but with blue skies and sunshine. Many went down to the lake and enjoyed people watching on the promenade, delighted when the famous water fountain started to flow in the late afternoon. On Friday evening Sabine had organised a meal of the local speciality – filets du perche, lake perch fillets fried in butter with lemon and parsley. We were joined by some Swiss Soroptimists from the local Clubs Genève-Fondateur and Genève Rhône and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday morning Sabine took us on a tour of the old town, starting with the Parc des Bastions and the history of the Reformation Wall. After a wander around the streets of the old town and a look inside St Peter’s Cathedral, we enjoyed refreshments and lunch in the sunshine until it was time to return to the hotel, collect our belongings and make our way to the airport for the flight home.

Sabine Kinzer from SI de Nyon entertained some visiting Soroptimists at her home.  Members from local Clubs SI Genève-Fondateur and SI Genève Rhône also helped to host our visit.
Members of SI Taunton and their Soroptimisters enjoying an evening meal.
Looking north across the lake to Geneva and snow-capped mountains in the distance.
The famous Jet d'Eau shoots a plume of water 140m high into the air at a rate of 500 litres per second and a speed of 200km per hour!
Rainbow on the spray.
The harbour and marina with the foothills of the Alps in the background.  On a clear day you can see Mont Blanc.
On the Friday evening, Sabine arranged an evening out at the Café du Centre where we had the local specialty, perch fillets.  Sabine Kinzer and Regional President Daphne Dowsing making their thank you speeches.
Park des Bastions on the south side of the city contains the Mur de la Réformation (Reformation Wall), erected in 1909 to mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jean Calvin and the 350th anniversary of the foundation of Geneva's Academy.
In the centre of the 100m long wall are 5m high statues of the four leaders of the Reformation - Jean Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Theodore de Beze and John Knox.
A view of St Peter's Cathedral through the narrow streets of the old town.
Place du Bourg-de-Four, the hub of the old town.

We had a fabulous time; Geneva is a lovely city and we are indebted to Sabine for all her time and efforts in ensuring we have many happy memories of our visit. We saw new places and learnt new facts and figures but, best of all, we made new friends and strengthened existing friendships.