25.5.95 (Thu)

I am now on a train heading for Bern. The train will depart at 8:13 am and arrive in Bern before 9:30 am. I plan to spend two to three hours touring around and then catch the train to Geneve. From there, I will take the TGV back to Paris tomorrow.

Yesterday was an exhausting day. I went up Mt Pilatus, which was covered with dirty melting snow. The trip up the top in the cogwheel train was exciting. The view up there was majestic. I could see a range of snow mountains which, I guess, were the Alps. I got hold of my first handful of snow. It felt cold and was just like ordinary ice I saw everywhere else. It was hot up on the top. I brought almost all jackets with me but it turned out that I kept sweating all the way in my short-sleeved T-shirt. And I was sunburnt, my face, my arms and my hands in particular. I took many pictures. Since I am a photo-idiot, I can’t guarantee the quality of the pictures. But pictures are nothing. Having been there is what matters.

After the mountain trip (the downhill cable-car trip was boring), I spent a little more than one hour to walk around the town. I saw many Chinese on the streets, obviously from Hong Kong. The place was small and shops were already closed around 5 pm. I hunted for food in fear of starving and now I have with me plenty of food I could not consume last night. But it is all right as today is a holiday.

The hotel I was in last night cost me 112 SF, plus 10 SF booking fee. It was a nice room with a particularly satisfying shower, i.e. I could really adjust the temperature of the water, and many towels. The room looked down to a narrow street perpendicular to the river side. Since today is a holiday, it sounded like a carnival last night. I enjoyed free music flowing in from the river side and occasional uproar of cheers. Too bad that I could not join the crowd because I was alone.

* * *

It is 4:35 pm. I am sitting in Cathedrale St Pierre in Geneve because it is raining outside after the hot morning and afternoon. I will wait here till the rain stops.

I went to Bern this morning, thinking that maybe I would stay there for the night, but left there in less than two hours and came to Geneve. Since it is a holiday today, both places seem to have lost their glamour. It was very, very quiet in Bern and quite quiet over here with 90% of the shops closed.

While I strolled by the lake of Geneve this afternoon, a middle-aged man approached me and asked, with an accent, for my map. I let him look at it. He asked where a place was and to his surprise, and to my own too, I was able to point at the place on the map really fast. He asked me if I had been in Geneve long and I told him that I was leaving tomorrow. He asked if I was a Japanese and I said no. Then I hurried away. Only then did I realize that he didn’t really want to look at the map. He told me that he had been in Geneve for two weeks for business so it would be quite impossible that he did not know where he was. It was the LAKEside after all. He was just trying to have a conversation, and then maybe something more. This was not a very pleasant encounter.

I have checked into a hotel called "Montana" near the station. It is a three-star hotel charging 110 SF per night. When I checked in, I asked the lady at the reception to give me a good room because I was kind of tired of shabby hotels (it is unfair to say that the hotels that I have stayed in were shabby. But I need more comfort now that I have travelled for so long.) So she gave me a really nice room that is worth, as she claimed, 130 SF. It is clean, large, with full facilities and an acceptable view. I am really grateful for this.

* * *

I left the Cathedral but it was still raining. Finding shelter on the way, I walked back to the lakeside. Then I stopped at a cinema and studied the poster of "Little Women" (because there were no better things to do). Then an elderly lady by my side started asking me if the movie was good, first in French, then in English. I replied that I had no idea as I had not yet seen it, but recommended another movie "Priest". The lady said she had seen it already and that it was a good movie. We chatted for a little while and then she went to buy her ticket for the 5 pm show. I skipped away. I feel all right talking to strangers but deep down I am an introvert who avoids personal contacts, especially with strangers.

It is very boring here in Geneve. All the shops except a few are closed. People have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Even an old lady would start chatting with a stranger like me. People here, no matter young or old, just stroll on the streets, quite aimlessly as it seems to me, and eat ice-cream. Otherwise they sit in a cafe, have a drink and then chat endlessly.

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