Our time in Geneva was short, but enjoyable. We only spent two days in the area, visiting three cities - one of which was unplanned, but which was deeply rewarding. We began in Geneva itself, where we got to walk around the city and the lake to Villa Diodati, where Lord Byron spent the summer of 1816. This was also where Mary Shelley was challenged to a ghost story writing contest which inspired her novel Frankenstein. The view from the villa was sublime; we could see the city and the alps reflected in Lake Geneva.
The next day we crossed into France to visit Chamonix. In addition to being the site of the first Winter Olympics, it offers access to La Mer de Glace. It is on this glacier that (in the aforementioned novel) Victor first meets his creation. Unfortunately, conditions on the glacier were deemed unsafe due to excessive wind. This forced us to improvise, so we backtracked to Les Houches where we could safely take a lift to the top of a different mountain. Upon arrival, we spent several minutes staring into the white void. No really, it was a white void. We could not see more than a few inches in front of our face as flecks of ice pelted our cheeks. We made the treacherous journey to the chalet. There we enjoyed warm drinks over Frankenstein and Percy Shelley’s poetry. We discussed the way that this harsh landscape inspired the Shelleys--the legends surrounding mountains, the sublime, and furthermore the ethics of science both today and in the novel.
Afterward, we made our way back to the lift and back down the mountain. We all ate lunch in Chamonix (many of us had fondue, it was wonderful), and turned in for an early night. The next morning we left for Venice by train. It was a 7 hour long train ride, but quite enjoyable. If you have the chance to ride a train through the Alps, we highly recommend. We left the station at 6:49 a.m. and arrived in Venice at 2:40 p.m. We left the snow behind and arrived in absolutely gorgeous Venetian weather. We’ll spend the next few days in Venice visiting St. Marks, the Fenice Opera house, the Lido beach, and exploring this beautiful and historic city.
Until next time,
Jonathan, Emma, and Grant