Frozen in Geneva
I arrived in Geneva on February fifth. It’s a short and easy flight from Paris and a simple ten minute (and free!) train ride into the center of town directly from the airport.
Geneva is a bit of a ghost town on Sundays. All retail stores are closed as well as many restaurants. This feeling was enhanced by the bitter cold and high winds convincing people there’s no need to go outside. In retrospect, I should have arrived on Monday the sixth, hit Gagosian upon opening, and then flown to London the same day, thereby avoiding a night spent in a hotel in Switzerland. Ah well, my plans were made and the gallery didn’t open until Monday, so I wandered the quiet streets for as long as I could stand the cold. The local Starbucks was the busiest place in town, and I joined the ranks of those needing hot stimulants to get through the grey blustery day. There was snow on the ground, and the Alps that form the backdrop to the city were beaconing with fresh powder. I got the impression that Geneva in winter is a passing through point for anyone heading toward the ski towns nestled in the mountains. After reminding myself that I didn’t have the time or equipment to change my plans to go skiing, I made a mental note to return in summer or fall to enjoy this extremely walkable city with it’s dinner cruises on the lake and outdoor cafes filled with people sipping Rose’ in their tank tops and sunglasses.
Paris was like a three day marathon and it had caught up with me. I was grateful to have a warm room with a bathtub and a comfy bed. After a hot bath and an undisturbed twelve hour sleep, I awoke refreshed and ready for my mission to walk across the Mont Blanc Bridge to 19 Place de Longemalle, and get my ticket stamped at Gagosian Gallery. I bundled up, checked out of my room, and stepped out into eighteen degrees fahrenheit with a wind chill of five. The wind intensified with every step toward the water. Crossing the bridge, I put my head down and weathered the howling gusts like an actor in a bad disaster film. It was only a twenty minute walk from door to door, and I arrived at the gallery five minutes before it opened, frozen to the core.
Side note: By now perhaps you’ve noticed, I did not photograph my trip to Geneva. I couldn’t feel my fingers, therefore I couldn’t operate my camera. It just wasn’t an option. Below, you will find stock photos of how it felt, and how I wish it was.
Ten minutes later, the gallery manager arrived, and I followed her upstairs to the second floor to see the small collection of spot paintings. While there I was offered coffee and made very welcome. As I began to thaw, I met a fellow spot hunter from Frankfurt, who was just beginning his travels. He was leaving for Hong Kong that afternoon and intended on finishing the entire challenge in seven days because that’s all the time he could get off work. Not much sleep in his future.
The show itself, is unremarkable compared to the larger venues. I did enjoy seeing more of Hirst’s limited edition prints and wondered if the print the spot challengers will be awarded will be of a similar size and composition. We have no way of knowing what they will look like, since Hirst will create the work after all the shows have closed and there is an official count on how many people finished the challenge.
I ventured back across the bridge once again, pleasantly surprised by the sun peeking through the clouds and a drop in wind velocity. I grabbed my bag from the hotel desk and took the train back to the airport for my flight to London. When I arrived to check in, I discovered London Heathrow was still backed up due to the previous days weather, and to top it off, the French pilots were on strike.
Perfect. I was flying standby…on Air France, to London Heathrow.
I sat in the Geneva Airport with my pathetic seat request boarding card, hatching plans B,C and D as hours passed and three flights left without me. Such is the life of airline buddy pass and staff travel. I was seconds away from buying an Easy Jet ticket when they assigned me a seat and I was on my way to London via Paris on what turned out to be a borrowed plane and crew from a small German airline. Nice save, Air France.
Next post: Spots 8 and 9 in London!