The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Geneva - One Amazing Centre for Promise

We are now in Geneva (May 28), after 2 day ago riding autobahns in Germany (boringly fast) and a day ago the last 4 ½ hrs on some of the most scenic rural highways in east central France, particularly highway 437 from outside Belfort to Pontarlier. While the day was cool, never much above 14 C, and definitely down to 8 C as we crossed the Jura Mountains (snow near the top and a bit of rain), we just loved the drive. The bike is performing flawlessly, from fuel economy, to ride, especially handling with hands free capability, and our new packing techniques we have lowered the centre of gravity some more.
United Nations Geneva

Geneva                - One Amazing Centre for Promise
This is Sandra’s place, I’d say her city. And her research that has yielded such an amazing experience over the past two days. Knowing that we wanted to get the Geneva Pass which allowed entry to a number of attractions, plus provide transportation if you needed it (we didn’t) it was a great value. Of course we arrived on Ascension Thursday a holiday across Christendom in Europe which meant that the tourist bureau opened later and some attractions are closed, like the watch museum Sandra wanted to see. But the List below is what we did see.
  • The Red Cross/Crescent Museum
  • Palace of Nations ( United Nations)
  • Reformation Wall – Train tour of Geneva
  • Boat Tour of Geneva
  • C.E.R.N.  “Lord of The Rings”   Caution!! This can blow your Mind
Front Entrance

Starting at the Red Cross/Crescent Museum, a person should dedicate about 1 ½ hrs.t o this site to see it’s permanent exhibit. Positioned using a series of Interactive ‘Witnesses’ the Museum shares the experiences of these witnesses in a variety of settings. Your entrance grants you an English guided tour via headphones and electronic  RFID trigger points that initiate a witness to share their story with you if you position yourself in front of them, or place your hand on theirs. This methodology engages you in committing to listening to their story and making a connection with them. Pure genius in dealing with an audience. 
Many Posters
It details how the Red Cross started in the late 1800’s until today, openly addresses their failures during WWII, and really presents a war criminal case against Pres. Bush of the US and Rumsfeld for their crimes against humanity  with Abu Grebe and Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Complete avoidance of humanitarian treaties the United States was a signatory to.

1000's of Unidentified Children

Great Tour and nice Guide

From there we walked across the avenue to the Palis du Nations, or United Nations setting. Our Chinese born guide provided a great tour with lots of personality mixed with some serious messages. We visited the Human Rights and Alliance Room, which deals with country human rights reviews in open audience,
Human Rights Hall

Disarmament Hall
and the Disarmament Room which addresses ongoing talks which currently include both the Iran nuclear talks, and the Syria chemical conflict. Of course our piece of memorabilia from 1991 when we brought Shannon and Blair here is the 

Entrance follows you
Chinese pagoda, whose entrance follows you down the corridor. Sandra didn’t believe we had been here before until she saw that. This is an excellent tour and building that makes you humbled to the fact that there are greater things on earth than the day to day problems we have, but that face humankind on earth, and, how we can become more engaged in those struggles. Architecture here is effectively used to impart this message. Lastly there are several monuments on the grounds that are worth noting, from Gandhi’s life statue to the Broken Chair’s symbol against Land Mines. Powerful stuff we need to think more about.
Library Central Hall
Gandhi My Life is my message
Land Mines

We then turned our attention to lighter matters with a boat tour of Lake Geneva. It is worth noting to sit on the starboard side of the boat for the tour since the tour is done in a counter-clockwise rotation. This one hr. on the water yielded us with a mild sunburn as the day had turned quite warm.
Geneva Fountain
From there we headed for the Reformation Wall. Geneva is seen as the home of  the start of protestant religion and a Wall is there to commemorate some of the early reformers of Christian belief, Calvin, Knox, Luther and others.
Reformation Wall
It was here we caught another Geneva Pass freebie, and that is the train tour of the Old Town, which we completed after many hours on our feet. The day was completed by returning to our hotel where we were met by Heiko who had come down to take in the CERN tour Friday with us. We had a very nice visit and dinner out at Charly’s Pub that evening.
The LHC Lord of the Rings

CERN – Lord of the Rings
Our final day in Geneva was to attend our pre-arranged by application, appointment to visit the CERN facility.
CERN and Sandra
Sandra wanted to go here and I felt bad about not getting here last year until I learned they didn’t offer civilian tours until late October 2013. Heiko drove the 598 kms yesterday to join us as well.

This facility will blow your mind. I told Sandra I was sad, because I learned that I really knew “nothing  “ after visiting the microcosm lab in advance of the formal tour. I never had heard the term neutrinos, or quarks.  Did you know neutrinos are capable of passing through the earth from one side to the other without impediment by matter?  Now, I have graduated to knowing what I don’t know and I hope that one of my grandchildren will work at closing that gap for me more in future by visiting here, getting inspired and advancing their education in nuclear research, or in humanitarian causes vis a via, the Red Cross or UN. You might think I have lofty ideals for my grandkids, but then you don’t know them like I do. They are capable, and well positioned and have brilliant parents. And then there is my nephew Brad Lafortune who is extremely motivated in this area as well.

The Lord of the Rings term is coined based on the LHC, or Large Hadron collider, a particle accelerator  27 kms in length, well read the images here for better detail. It is part of three rings which include 2 former experiment rings. Our tour ended in the Atlas Control Centre and an amazing 3D film that allows you to experience the areas without going down below, which are currently closed for maintenance.
Just imagine protons being accelerated to collide at a rate of 11000 revolutions a 27 km circuit per ONE SECOND below Geneva, that is meant to recreate the environment one millionth of a millionth of a second after the Big Bang theory, and where at that moment ‘Matter’ and Anti-Matter’ co-existed, and “mass” developed as the result in the reduction in matter slowed after the Big Bang.

On a lighter note, the tool you are using to read this blog originated here, yep that’s right the WWW, which was made public in 1993.  CERN developed the World Wide Web after responding to the need to share its data amongst its 70 some research facilities world-wide. I’m pleased to have one of the first Smith WWW email addresses issued in 1993 in Calgary, before that I used the web through a Police Bulletin Board I belonged to. Lastly, CERN is 60 years old this year having been started in 1954 to offset the USA’s nuclear development and brain drain.

This is a must see bucket list place to visit. And oh, just to add icing to the cake, we ride into the French Alps and take the Mount Blanc tunnel a 12 km. engineering feat, through the Alps, into Italy where we have now finished our favorite meal of pasta and red wine. Life doesn't get much more interesting or educational!