I flew to Geneva in February to trial run a hike I have wanted to do for a while, hiking 100+ miles from Lyon France to Geneva Switzerland.
Geneva to Lyon is great as you can follow the Rhone river most of the way, while still navigating through mountains and all that jazz, but having the river as your reliable backup nav point. You can follow the river the entire way to Lyon, which is useful for navigation and also means you can stock up on drinking water whenever you want. The whole journey following the river is 117 miles, which should take 7-8 days. I picked it out over all the other treks (GR-20) because it has kick ass scenery, is quite tough in terms of distance, but safe from a navigation standpoint.
I spent a week in Geneva, mostly just hiking west towards Lyon, to see if camping would be realistic. It is totally illegal to wild camp in Switzerland, but it’s not illegal if nobody knows you are there! Luckily, there are forests everywhere along the river and they are completely deserted – bar all the wild animals!
Towards the end of the week I came back to Geneva and was shocked to see the prices of hotels in the city. I’d brought around £400, which should be enough for a week in a city right? Especially since you are camping half that time? Well unfortunately in the worlds 5th most expensive city, hotel rooms – even the bad ones – cost £200 a night! I learned this after going into a few of the nice looking hotels and learning that a night would cost £2000-3000! Maybe looking at hotels with Ferrari’s parked outside wouldn’t end well.
I wanted to search online on laterooms or expedia to find a hotel nearby that didn’t cost the earth. I spent about an hour hunting for a hotel online, on my iPhone, basically sat down on the street on some posh banks doorstep. I was able to find a sub travellodge type hotel for £150 a night, bit of a rip off, but anything cheaper than that in Geneva is a shared dormitory…and…I’d rather sleep in the woods than in a shared dorm #standards.
My iPhone definitely saved me, but it did cost a lot in cell phone charges because my contract is 100% UK coverage, anything outside the UK costs a ridiculous amount. For my next trip, I’m bringing an extra sim from Mobi who offer a free sim card. I wouldn’t ever use it for UK calls, but if I can stuff this inside my iPhones case with some duck tape, I can use it when outside of the UK because Mobi lets you use 100mb of free internet. Beats paying the £30 I spent just to hook up to public wifi.
Another mistake I made and my last Geneva tip…don’t get Taxi’s in Geneva. Taxi’s are great in Manchester…in London…most places. There are a bit pricey, but never too much. But Taxi’s from Geneva airport to the city (about a 10 min drive) cost £75 or $100+. I was crying inside looking at the meter going up. I swear the Taxi meter starts at 30 Franks, which is like £20. Try and bring a pack lunch if you go to Geneva, or huge bags full of cash, because everything is so overpriced there, a Big Mac meal is around £15 or $25.
One sentence Geneva review: Little Paris with empty streets and overpriced McDonalds