Thursday, November 29, 2012

Geneve Journal: Disembarkment

My folly of flight that was the cancelled flight and the hotel room debacle allowed for time spent with Tim and Marion, as I have mentioned, and it led to a little bonding with Senhor Cavalho, another among our small number that had to travel to a second hotel, the Double Tree, to find rooms.  Contrary to assurances from the night before by TAP Portugal staff and from the representatives I spoke to on the phone that the airline would contact us with information and instructions regarding our next flight, we, at the Double Tree, were apparently forgotten (I'll spare you further gripes. I just don't think TAP will be anywhere near the top of my list of options for future travel.) 

Having not heard from the airline, but knowing that we were booked on the 5:55 flight to Lisbon, Tim, Marion and I decided to head to the airport at 3.  At 2:30, I encountered the agitated Senhor Cavalho in the hotel lobby trying to get through to the airline on the phone.  He had been sitting in the lobby for most of the day waiting, not knowing as we had - via checking our ticket status online - that we were confirmed for the Lisbon flight.  When he finally got through to a human, we was told to get to the airport immediately.  The four of us gathered quickly and got on the 2:40 shuttle to the airport........retrieved and re-checked our luggage and made it through a long long wait to pass through security, or to do the striptease as Senhor Cavalho liked to say.

Senhor Cavalho knows just a little English, a little Spanish, and as it turns out, a little French.  My attempts at conversing with him was an ugly mashup of linguistic DNA - the conversational equivalent of that unfortunate baboon that gets transported in The Fly.  Mangled, half remembered Spanish with tufts of Italian clinging to the tongue and can't quite be picked off.  But we got there though, conversationally - pretty much - and we were true traveling companions for the two hour journey through the airport and onto the plane, keeping one another company, and keeping an eye on each other's luggage when needed.  It's that warm sociable feeling of comraderie that forms in short order in such situations.

Senhor Cavalho is from Madeira, and he's very proud of his home.  While waiting to check our luggage, he presented us with lapel pins with the flag of home.

I have heard about Madeira, but never knew anything about it.  Here are just a few facts: 
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal; an archipelago in the Atlantic that sits about 450 miles east of Morocco.  A favorite holiday destination among tourists - particularly older Americans.  Senhor Cavalho says there are many, many old Americans there.  There has been an outbreak of Dengue fever reported in Madeira this fall, with upwards of 1600 cases of infection.  Madeira's annual fireworks display is rated among the best in the world.

Despite leaving late, the plane landed in Lisbon pretty much on time, which was good as I had short time to make my connection.  On the flight from Lisbon to Geneva, I sat next to a very friendly and chatty Portuguese man.   He's an older man and speaks English well.  I don't think I got his name.  This man is a passionate ecologist, he's a farmer, I know, but I don't know if running a farm is his vocation.  I asked him what was taking him to Geneva, and he said business.  Later he asked me if I knew where the Central Bank in Geneva was.  I told him I didn't.  It seems he was going to Geneva to see if he is on a list to claim a key to a safe deposit box that may hold some sort of treasure.  This box, he thinks exists belonged to a man in the employ of his grand, or great grandfather.  My row mate had never been go Geneva, and seeing that I have been there - 20 years ago, thought I could provide him with ample information on where the bank might be, or the cost of hotel rooms in Geneva.  I'm not sure that he was certain that the bank he sought exists.  He felt there should be some such central location with keys to orphaned safe boxes.  I asked him if he new for sure this bank was in Geneva and not Bern or Zurich.  He wasn't sure.  I was able to tell him he could get a free train ride from the airport to the central train station and he'd be in the general neighborhood.  We parted ways at the baggage claim.

Our flight arrived at about 10:30 in the morning (Wednesday, Nov 28).  The time, from collecting my suitcase, hitting an ATM, hopping a train to Gare Cornavin, hopping on the 8 bus, getting off at my stop - Louis Aubert, was only about 30 or 40 minutes.  The longest part of getting to the apartment where I'm staying was finding the building.  That took 5 to 10 minutes alone.  Of course, I was standing right in front of it for most of this confounding time.

The place is on Rue Corbusier.  It's a little one bedroom apartment I rented through airbnb, and it fits my needs perfectly.  It's about a 20 min walk to the center of town, and the bus stop in just downstairs. The view from the window looks onto the Fondation Louis-Jeantet.

the view from the living room window.
My first act was to get some groceries.  My first meal was sliches of bread with hearty application of butter and strawberry rhubarb jam.  I enjoyed entire dinners of just this combination on my last visit.  This Swiss butter.  The power of this butter, with a little jam to compress space and time.  Somehow the descendents of the descendents of the descendents...etc. of the tastebuds that inhabited my tongue twenty years ago are yet imbued with the memory of this mighty fine treat.

the first meal.

 I did have the thought of jamming the bar of butter onto a stick and dipping it into the jam, like a strawberry butter popsicle.  I've thus far refrained from taking this step.

I had a headache since landing, so after eating, I took a nap.  A long nap.  The headache lingered, but it disappeared somewhere along the rain splattered walk I took down near the river and the vieille ville.   There's a scene in the film Prometheus (one of the three I watched on the plane) where the protagonists exploring a cavern are overtaken, and passed through, by hologram images of beings running through that very space in a distant time.  That's an uncanny representation of the sensation I had treading over the cobblestones beside the torrent of the Rhone.  It was a very sub-lingual, vibe of recognition I felt.  A deep one.  That hologram scene from the film gave image to my sense of walking parallel with a former self.  Dissolving images of moments remembered popped up and dissolved as I walked.   I didn't live in Geneva.  The time I spent here was relatively short.  But the time I did spend here was spent largely walking alone on the pavement and cobblestone.  That may be the most profound aspect of my time here.  That, along with the folks I met then, I think.

These illuminated acrylic cobblestones etched with salutations and well wishes in different languages look like conspicuous pieces of litter from a distance. That's what I like about them the most.
At the base of the Rue de la Cite

The Henry Moore in front of the Musee d'art et d'histoire.  This photo has a lurid Seurat-ishness about it.  I'm digging it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Geneve Journal: Embarkment

I finally set out on my Geneve Journal journey yesterday.  Scheduled to depart yesterday from Newark at 5:15 pm to Geneva by way of Porto Portugal, I'm currently sitting in the Newark Double Tree Hotel.  "Technical difficulties" brought about the eventual cancellation of the flight and then the saga of getting hotel rooms for the affected passengers.  After the bulk of our fellow passengers filled all available rooms of the Renaissance Hotel, the remaining handful of us were given rooms at the Double Tree - at about 1:30 am.

From rm 311 of the Double Tree hotel.
Scheduled now to depart at 5:55, with the connecting city being Lisbon, the current snowfall - which is getting heavier now - makes me question the possibility of a timely take off this afternoon.

But, I took a pleasant breakfast this morning with Tim and Marion, a young French couple heading back to Paris after visiting NYC, and I'm able to catch up on some posting while I wait for the airline's call.

Over the last few weeks I began fulfilling the first rewards for supporters of the Geneve Journal Project.  All but a few handful of the Elliptical Drawings have been sent out - the rest will find their destination upon my return.  And I've been able to start making phone calls of thanks to those who joined in on the project.

I'm grateful to all these fine folks who agreed to participate:

Jo Cole, Angelika Rinnhofer, Lorrie Fredette, Deirdre Swords, Matthew Kinney, Beth E. Wilson, Brian Farrar, Lisa Townley, Michael Haskell, Trent Peaker, Erica Hauser, Pamela Todd, Tatiana Giametti, Angela Beloian, Rich Armstrong, Andrew Boscardin, Steffen Hyder, Chad Smith, Ilka Omdahl, Stan Gregory, Frank Albert, Desiree, Will Walker, Matthew Slaats, Andy Clayton, Richard Schoenstein, Randy Caruso, Olivier Pascal Zimmermann, Cristina Schuttmann, Cristin Frodella, Carla Rozman, elboso, Steve Rossi, Cole Wicker, AmyK, Rob Penner, Peter Iannarelli, C-monster, Kirsten Kucer, Peter Acheson, Marcia Acita, Marc Schreibman, Phyllis Lerud, Diana & David Armstrong.

 To project funders: if I've missed any pertinent links, please let me know.  I'll gladly add them.

 I've set up a tout profile.  I'll be posting 15 second videos to this profile which will follow my Genevois goings-on at a micro-temporal and microscopic level.  If you're on the blog page now, you can see the Tout widget in the sidebar to the right.