Impressions

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