Our second day as guests in Geneve was another beautiful sunshiny day and we were keen to make the most of it and do something fun before saying goodbye and carrying on our journey through France. With van and pick-up loaded we headed into town, down to Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) ready to give paddle boarding a go. My brother is a dab-hand (having his own gear and being just a short drive from the water), whereas Callum and I had never previously had a go. It felt like a good day and we were ready for our baptism or fire… or, more appropriately, water!
The turquoise below us was clear and calm, the rocks of the bottom perfectly visibly through the aqua hue. The gentle motion of the water reflected the silver glinting of the sun which sat high above us in the powder blue sky. The foreground was filled with swaying boats, wires and cables clinking in the breeze, all set against a background of snow topped Alps, Mont Blanc rising up majestically in the middle.
I took my time, getting a feel of the board before trying to stand up – a system which served me well as I didn’t fall off once (not until the very end, and even then I decline all responsibility for that one!) Callum, on the other hand, took a different approach. Years of rugby has desensitised him to all forms of falling. So, within two minutes he was up, and within two seconds he was back down with a splash.
This continued for a while, but before too long we were both up and cruising. Whilst we occupied the paddleboards my brother swam along with us, swapping later so that Cal was bringing up the rear whilst my brother and I had a race up front, which I won (although I think he let me, like a good big brother!) All in all it was a fun morning and it felt like too soon when we were packing everything way and saying our goodbyes.
With one last wave as we headed in our different directions, Callum and I made our way towards Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, the Geneva botanical gardens. After finding a shady spot for the van, we spent a couple of hours strolling through the various sections of the gardens, a perfectly chilled out way to spend the afternoon.
We entered by the side of the animal park, bypassing this area fairly quickly as it had attracted lots of families and looked quite busy. We ambled along the sweeping footpaths, diverting through a small oriental garden with a simple red pagoda tucked in the corner. Emerging from this we spotted the smaller conservatory rising up above the sway of brightly coloured flowers, many of which towering over me. The small conservatory housed a very decent cactus collection with some impressively tall specimens. The warm sun was beating through the glass giving the room an appropriately arid feel as we admired the exotic flowers growing along the upper walkway.
Upon exit we followed the sweeping footpaths once more and found ourselves meandering through the rockeries and ponds. We relaxed on the grass, enjoying the dappled shade and the sight of the lily pads swaying tellingly, letting us know of the fish under the surface. Every so often one would brush along the surface of the water, before disappearing into the depths once more. While chatting away I couldn’t help but notice some intriguing sounds coming from nearby. On investigation I happened across 5-6 small frogs wallowing in the muddy shallows between the reeds. These frogs were everywhere; every successive pond we walked past had several pairs of golden eyes staring out of the shimmering water.
Next we explored the tropical greenhouses, it was still and quiet and Callum humoured me dutifully as I ooh’d and aah’d over all the different succulents (and all the other beautiful plants too of course!) It felt like the afternoon was running away with us as there was so much to see and so it was with reluctance that we made the decision to start towards the exit, in no rush and happy to take any diversion that presented itself, one or two of which definitely slowed us down!