Cathy’s travel stories on ~wander.essence~ has made me hunt out an old travel journal that I used to take with me on overseas trips to look for snippets that could be turned into poems or prose for the travel writing invitations on her site. This is the first of my ‘Impressions’ series and I hope she and you enjoy it.

Carouge, Geneva’s Italianate district, was created by a bunch of architects from Turin in the 18th century as an independent town.

“I catch the tram from Plainpalais to the terminus in Carouge with the intention of walking back to the River Arve following the tram lines to photograph the Italianate architecture.

I am charmed by the shuttered townhouses and thrilled with the hidden courtyards, secret gardens, a small world, typically “carougeois”.  I idly wonder if there is a map showing them all, as I poke my nose into a few of them. I eat a wonderful vegetarian wrap in one. The wrap was a little messy to eat, but the combination of crisp lettuce, mozzarella, marinated aubergines and tomatoes was delectable. Only CHF6.50 so a bargain here in Geneva. The courtyard where I am sitting to write this is a delightful restful place. The sound of running water from the drinking fountain can be heard, joyful birdsong and the faint hum of a tram going by, the occasional sound of ringing church bells in the distance. The drinking water is crystal clear and cold. Poured from a sublime brass spout shaped like a jaguar’s head. Why a jaguar? I might be confused.

I draw a little sketch of my courtyard.

Carouge is such a pretty ‘village’. Many of the older buildings have wonderful wooden shutters, some faded and peeling, but just so right, some have wrought-iron balconies often with a bike leaning against them or washing hanging from lines strung between the shutters.

I cannot stop taking photos of the wonderfully ornate fountains that can be found along the street and in the squares. I am fascinated by what I first think are black swans, but later learn are Basilisks, a legendary reptile reputed to be a serpent king who can cause death with a single glance. Although I think the ones below probably ARE swans.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays Carouge gets a further boost with the arrival of the market on the lovely Place du Marché. Although I am unable to buy anything as I am staying in a hotel, I can enjoy looking around the stalls where fruit and veg, cheese, honey, fresh bread, flowers, wine and locally made treats are for sale.

As I drift past fountains and flowers the basilisks with their water spouting out I turn my camera to shops and shop signs, a theatre, more shutters – predominately green – street signs and sculptures, cafés, a church, more fountains.

People come here for the many restaurants and shops. It is true that the area’s numerous independent shops and artisanal workshops turn any shopping spree into an adventure, but I am too curious to be satisfied with that. I want to know what makes Carouge different to the rest of Geneva. 

As I reach the River Arve I look along the river before catching a bus back to the city, but Carouge is hidden from view. A secret enclave of Geneva. I like it.”

~wander.essence~ prose

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

44 thoughts on “Impressions”

  1. Cathy is responsible for so many pleasures – the ones she gives and the ones she inspires, like this one, which is beautiful in both words and images. I hope there’ll be more from you. I’m a big fan of good words.

    1. She certainly is. I did have some of these in mind for my ‘travel writing’ category, but Cathy has given me the incentive to go ahead and do something about them. Sad that I needed a push, but grateful to her for stimulating my travel mind. There won’t be many, I have already written about a lot of the trips in the book, but I do have a few snippets that I can hopefully turn into something interesting.

  2. This is so brimming with atmosphere. New life from old notebooks; brings a sense of immediacy along with the photos; of ‘being there’ rather than ‘having been’.

    1. Sadly I don’t have too many like this, a lot of lists which I can’t do much with and journeys I have already posted like the Vancouver holiday, the Canyons road trip and San Francisco. One or two other bits though that I can work into something hopefully. Very relieved you think it works. 🙂

      1. How about some sort of compare/contrast – one place evoking the spirit/or some other aspect of another place. Or the immediacy of a journey set against other aspects in your life at that time. I’m all for recycling old writing for new!

  3. How wonderful that you still have that old notebook. The writing is first rate, and would make a great addition to any guide book, along with the interesting photos.
    Best wishes,, Pete. x

    1. 2009. I have written up most of the journeys I kept notes of, like the Canyons trip and San Francisco. A few other bits that I shall rework 🙂

  4. Oh Jude. How I love this journal and your words from it. So many wonderful details of sights, sounds, tastes! I love the notes about what look like swans but are actually Basilisks. What fun to see the actual journal and your written words and your sketch. My journals now are mainly just lists of details, whereas I used to write paragraphs like you did here. I don’t try to do anything creative with them until I get home. With the list of details, I can do lots of things – try poetry, fiction, or essays.

    I love Tish’s idea above: “How about some sort of compare/contrast – one place evoking the spirit/or some other aspect of another place. Or the immediacy of a journey set against other aspects in your life at that time.” In fact, I may steal that idea and add it to my writing prompts page.

    Thanks so much for taking time to write such evocative posts. I’m not sure if there might be some confusion about the dates to include your posts or you just happened to finish it when you did. As I just posted my prose piece (I schedule them for 2:00 a.m. on Tuesdays EST, so that I avoid doing last minute edits that take all morning!), yours was too late to include. So now my next prose post won’t be till Tuesday, July 24. I’ll include your link there, unless you’d like me to include it belatedly on today’s post. Let me know! 🙂

    1. Link it to the next one Cathy. I’ll be publishing posts inspired by your invitations every Tuesday for now, so I will link them to the most recent of your posts. I will visit your new one and leave a link to mine in the comments so that should be fine. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I am happy that you enjoyed it. Good to finally get some of these words published. 🙂

        1. Should have done them ages ago Cathy, you have definitely inspired me to get on with it! I might link an old post at some point in the future as I think it will delight you. In the meantime I am working on a couple of ‘Journeys’ and a photo essay!

  5. Marvellous! I would love to see Carouge, after reading your evocative words, Jude! All those details….true sense of place

    1. Some people don’t ‘get it’ from reviews I have read since my visit. I was there to seek out the Italian architecture and what makes the place so different from the normal perception of Switzerland.

  6. I could feel the atmosphere and with your delightfully worded description and photos I could picture in my mind this lovely village. The wonderful wooden green shutters framing the lace curtained windows and window boxes with vibrant red geraniums are so European. This is well written and I loved to see that little sketch you had jotted down of your courtyard. Cathy is a very inspirational person.

  7. Great post, Jude. I’m looking forward to seeing more.
    Have a wonderful day,
    P.S.: Cathy certainly is an inspiration, isn’t she?

  8. What a treat! 🙂 🙂 So does your next piece focus on why it is different, or have I misunderstood? It looks a beautiful place to linger and I’m impressed that you made the drawing. What did you have in mind with that? Did you often do it? I require a piece with some explanations. A bit more of yourself please, Jude?

    1. Haha… you’ll not get much more of me from these pieces Jo. Yes I do occasionally make a sketch if I can’t quite photograph the entire thing in one shot to remind me what something looks like. No follow up. I’ll let people make their own impressions of what they believe Geneva to be like. Possibly not so Mediterranean looking?

        1. I do have a few more observations about a few more places visited on this trip. Lots of scrawled notes that haven’t made it onto the blog.

  9. Beautiful words and pictures. Cathy is making us all think about how we write! I just looked back at an old post because of something Pit wrote (I had been to the same town) and was surprised to find few photos and lots of words. Quite the opposite from now. Maybe I need to mix it up again because I am finding blogging a chore sometimes (and I know I don’t have to do it but I want a record to look back on when I’m decrepit). That’s why I liked Becky’s roofs – a different approach to try.

    1. I sometimes feel that my posts are repetitious i.e. boring but like you I use it as a photo journal so I can look back and revisit places and things I enjoyed. Cathy has made me realise that I need to use more words than pictures sometimes. I will run out of things to say at some point unless I start going on holiday again though 🙂

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