Masters Weekend in Geneva

The WCSIM trip to Geneva has been a long time in the making and it marks the Masters’ weekend for both the current Master, Charles Holroyd, and Deputy Master, Martyn Wheatley. The organisation of this trip could not have been done without a huge effort by Liveryman Alessandro Raimondo and his family, who made us all feel very welcome throughout our trip.

On the first day of the trip, we had the privilege to visit CERN, where Alessandro took us on an incredible tour of a few, of the facilities. We first stopped off at the original particle accelerator (the 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron) which was first commission in 1957 and was only retired in 1990, after an incredible 33 years of service!

The next stop of the tour was to visit the ‘IdeaSquare’, where we found out about how CERN is not just for particle physics but how they help groups of students from around the world in product development. It was at this point that Alessandro gave us a very interesting presentation on how the fundamental research at CERN can be transferred into medical applications. It was eye opening to see what treatment, that can be currently found in hospitals, have emanated from CERN and what future technologies are in the pipeline. Some of which are soon to be trialed in a UK hospital for pioneering cancer treatment.

Then the group walked to the data centre at CERN, which en-route to, we passed by the office of Sir Timothy Bernes-Lee, the office where the World Wide Web was first created! In the data centre we saw a massive room of 230,000 processors and 15,000 serves where by 80% of the world’s internet traffic passes through! Something that still now amazes me!

Later that evening we were treated to a wonderful and relaxed dinner, at La Buvette des Bain des Paquis, where in the background children and adults alike were jumping in and out of Lake Geneva whilst we had a cheese fondue and some fantastic Swiss wine. There was even a game of table football between Derek and Charles vs Martyn and Keith. Despite it being a fierce competition, it finished 4-4 – so no bragging rights this time around! Maybe this could be a new addition to Glaziers Hall to resolve this rivalry?

The next morning, we walked from the hotel to the Plainpalais flea market. Here traders from around the local area brought an assortment of goods – think a Swiss version of a car boot sale. You could buy anything from old maps and paintings to sabres and decommissioned guns – some of which might have been a bit tricky to get through customs.

After this, some of the group headed to the History of Science Museum, whilst others continued trying to find some hidden treasure at the flea market. Later in the afternoon the whole group reassembled at the quay in Jardin Anglais, on the shore of Lake Geneva, and boarded a steam paddleboat, the ‘Savoie’, for a 2 hour cruise around the lake. We were blessed with amazing sunshine, blue skies and saw some beautiful, small, idyllic Swiss villages on this short cruise. This was a lovely time, to relax, sunbathe and have a cool drink over some nice conversations…….there aren’t many better ways to spend an afternoon if you ask me!

In the evening, we headed for our ‘formal’ meal. This was at Cafe Papon, where the one of the head chefs had his first cheffing role at Mansion House in London. Very appropriate timing, given the upcoming WCSIM Royal Charter Banquet. We were first greeted with a glass (or two for some lucky ones) of local Swiss sparkling wine prior to being seated. As the weather was so pleasant that evening, we were able to sit on the terrace. What followed, was a fantastic three course meal paired, with more great local wine. After the meal, a small cohort of the group peeled away for one last nightcap, at a small bar nestled away in the old town before heading back to our hotel rooms.

On our last morning, we assembled bright eyed, and bushy tailed, for our final activity, a history tour of the Old Town. The tour was given by Debra Kinson, a British expat, who has settled in Geneva, and is now a member of the Geneva & Swiss Guide Associations. Debra took us through the detailed and tumultuous history of the city of Geneva – sharing many stories of the past characters of Geneva. One included a piece of folklore where one lady, Catherine Royaume, raised the alarm of a surprise attack from the Duke of Savoy and his army, at the battle called l’Escalade, by launching a cast iron pot containing boiling vegetable soup out of her window, killing one of the attackers! The action of this lady is now celebrated every 12th December in Geneva with the sharing of mini cast-iron pots made from chocolate and marzipan between family members and friends, symbolising the heroism and resistance of the people of Geneva.

The tour, in total, took us around two hours, taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the old town of Geneva. We then headed to the final restaurant, Cafe de Paris, for a steak-frite lunch together. To see photos of the trip please go to the flikr album here.

SIM members then headed their separate ways, some continuing in Switzerland to explore further afield, whilst others headed back to the airport, and home to the UK after quite an eventful, but incredible, few days in Geneva!