We started our day in a very diplomatic way. The Palace of Nations was built between 1929 and 1936 to serve as headquarters of the League of Nations. The League of Nations crumbled leading up to WWII but following the end of the war the more successful United Nations was formed. The initial purpose of the United Nations was to stop wars between countries and to provide a platform for dialogue. Today there are only 2 soverign states in the world who are not members. The first is the internationally recognized Vatican City and the second is Palestine, which is working hard to gain international status and has applied for UN membership. The UN has used these buildings since 1945 (though interestingly, Switzerland didn’t join the UN until 2002).
Today the main UN headquarters can be found in New York…it is there that the more political and major issues are discussed and debated. The UN offices in Geneva focus more on Human Rights.
A regular person cannot just wander about the UN headquarters unattended, so we had to go on the guided tour. It took a little over a hour and was very interesting. We saw a lot of very big rooms where very important people who represent the entire world discuss very influential issues.
At one point we stopped to overlook the Palace of Nations garden. It is quite lovely, but is regulated by strict security so we couldn’t actually go in it. At the center sits a really interesting sculpture. It is in the shape of a globe but is a projection of what you would see in the sky from any point at one specific time. All of the constellations weave in and out of each other upon it. This sculpture was dedicated to Woodrow Wilson, as he was the man who first came up with the idea of the League of Nations.
The last room on the tour was also the newest in the Palace. It was only completed a few years ago and is now used for meetings related to human rights. It is circular shaped, to encourage discussion, and made entirely with materials donated by Spain. The most interesting part of the room has to be the ceiling. It was created by a Spanish artist to look like the bottom of the sea projected onto the roof. Justine totally guessed what it was before we were told, saying “I can imagine a piece of the Titanic in the middle of it.” Apparently the ceiling consists of a light, moldable plaster substance and 35 tons of paint! That’s one heavy roof art display!
Knowing that we had plenty of time in our day we skipped the trams and walked from the UN to Old Town. This is pretty much the two opposite corners of a tourist’s Geneva so it was a long walk. Along the way we had some intelligent discussions on world issues…apparently we were inspired by our visit. In Old Town we headed to Bastions Park. This is where we could find the Reformation Wall, but first we stopped off at a few other interesting things in the area. We spotted a man pushing a snow shovel over a smooth white surface and were immediately drawn over to it. Sure enough it was an outdoor skating rink. We really miss skating! No one was on it but we sat & stared for awhile anyways. Then we stopped off in a corner filled with giant chess & checker boards. There a couple of empty ones so we struck up a game. Kristin was all set to win until we gained a spectator who took it upon himself to tell Justine what to do. We guess, in the end, neither of us won…the random dude did. Finally we actually saw what we had came to the park to see: The Reformation Wall. This wall honors many of the main individuals, events and documents of the Protestant Reformation which began in Geneva in 1536.
Our afternoon/evening involved a large quantitiy of nothing. It was relaxed & random and will only warrent a very short paragraph. We walked through some more of Old Town, had a blog-writing break at Starbucks, walked along the water in multiple directions and finally went for dinner. We went to the same pasta place as yesterday as we hadn’t located a place that could beat it’s prices. The Pasta du Jour was Mediterraneenne (so many crazy letters going on there!) which consisted of the house tomato sauce, tuna, olives and fresh basil. Yummy!
Love, Luck & League of Nations,