Rhone River Travel Journal—Day 11

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View of Geneva from St. Pierre Cathedral Bell Tower

We designated today as the museum and shopping day. Little did we know it would be a day filled with ignorant archaelogists and chocolate Nazis.

The area around Saint Pierre Cathedral is fantastic if you love history. There is an archaeological museum under the cathedral that has the remains (walls, columns and rooms largely intact) of the two previous churches, along with artifacts from the Roman and pre-Roman peoples who lived there.

There is also a Reformation museum adjacent to the cathedral that traces the Reformation from its beginnings to the present day. And, of course, there is the cathedral itself, which provides an audio visual presentation, good written information, and access to one of its towers that provides breathtaking views of Geneva.

We started at the archaelogical museum located under the cathedral which, from an archaeological perspective was incredible. Unfortunately, I found out that 20th century archaeologists know very little about 4th century Christians. The Wife, Ann and I found ourselves giggling, guffawing and rolling our eyes in unison as we listened to the English audio guides describe the practices of beliefs of early Christians.

The Reformation museum had an incredible collection of 16th century books, Bibles and original letters from the Reformers (including Calvin). The audio narrative sounded like it was written by a secular academic, spawning more giggling, guffawing and eye-rolling from the GSB posse.Overall though, both museums are a must-sees. If you do come, maybe just get the French audio guide and use it as mood music.

"Post Tenebras Lux" Macabean Chapel

“Post Tenebras Lux”
Maccabean Chapel

The Cathedral did not disappoint. My favorite find was the motto “Post Tenebras Lux,” which was written on the wall in the Maccabean chapel adjoining the cathedral. It was the motto of the Reformers, and it means, “After Darkness Light.” I can think of no better words to sum up the Reformation.

After the museums, we had a late lunch and then it was time for shopping. The girls went their way and I went mine, which is as it should be when it comes to shopping.

Geneva is known for its chocolate, so The Wife and Ann went searching for a chocolate store to buy gifts for our friends and family back in the States. I went looking for a pen store because Geneva is the home of Caran d’Ache and an excellent pen store.

The girls found a chocolate store not far from the cathedral. Mozart was playing in the background. The Horst-Wessel-Lied would have been more apropos.

The chocolates were kept under a glass counter. The Wife went to the counter and picked out two small boxes and pointed at the chocolates she wanted. As the proprietor began collecting the chocolates from under the glass, The Wife leaned forward and put her hands on the counter. The proprietor bruskly responded, “Madam, please remove your hands from the counter.”

While this was going on, Ann was sitting quietly in the corner of the store, running her hands through her hair. When the proprietor saw her, he stretched his arm out toward her and said, “Madam, stop with the hair. This is a chocolate shop!”

At this point, The Wife quickly paid, collected her chocolates and Ann and left as quickly as possible. As soon as the two got out of the store their relationship quickly deteriorated.

The Wife said, “Just remember. This store was your idea.”

Ann replied, “I never said to go in there.”

They both seemed shocked by the whole experience, but when they told me at dinner what had happened, I put it in perspective for them: “He’s a chocolate Nazi.”

Our waiter had a different take, “The Swiss are very serious about their chocolate.”

Until tomorrow. GS.