Remember Withnail and I when Withnail plaintively accosts a member of the country folk ‘Excuse me, but we’ve come to the country by mistake’.
Maybe I’ve done an urban version of that. I have just moved to a city where I don’t speak the language, I know not a soul and I can’t afford the rent I’m paying.
But there are positives. A Melburnian figures to love Geneva: it runs on people sitting in coffee shops. They don’t do good breakfast and the tea’s rubbish, but the sense of it is the same. There are trams. And it is incredibly compact. I’m in the city centre and I can walk to my knitting group, a chess club, several bridge clubs, lots of food markets, supermarkets. And, then, you are surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Ahhhhh. Ooooo…. Somehow the place manages to be both austerely beautiful and kitsch. There are lovely parks and imposing architecture. I really can’t think what it is missing. Well, if clubbing is your thing, maybe not.
As I write the AUD, USD and SF are virtually exactly the same as each other, so I’m going to talk in Aussie dollars. Exchange to taste.
One of the things that struck me ever since the idea of living in Geneva arose is the ‘it’s so expensive’ mantra. My sense, based on no more than a few weeks of staying here over the last six months or so, was that this is not so. Hence the title of this blog.
Day one sort of impressed me. It would be typical around the world landing in a city to have to spend quite a lot to get home. A taxi from the airport in Melbourne would cost about $65. If I got a bus to the city and then a taxi I can get that down to $30. Geneva airport to my new home cost me zilch. Not a franc. The train to the city from the airport is free (if you have an incoming ticket, that is) and when I then attempted to get a taxi the rest of the way, the driver made me walk. It was only a ten or fifteen minute walk. I did it grumpily because of my luggage, but still. I did it. I had to sit somewhere for a couple of hours before meeting the landlady and that was $3.50 for the horrid, but classic, Lipton’s tea bag in a glass. Ugghhh. Then, after Charlotte and I had whizzed through the formalities and I’d given her a month’s rent – I hate carrying about large amounts of cash – I dashed off to knitting.
This meant a ten minute walk and I spent $9 on tea and some bircher muesli. I hadn’t eaten since a banana in the morning and the muesli really tasted good. It was pink, but it still tasted good.
Total spent day one: $12. Sorry, but I’m going to round up or down at random in this blog.