There were no reservations necessary for my train ride to Switzerland so I locked up my luggage and toured Geneva for a couple of hours.
First stop- United Nations. It's the 2nd largest UN building, biggest UN conference centre. They specialize in Human Rights, while the offices in NYC are geared towards security and defense. I took the hour tour of my future workplace (still dreaming). It was really cool. Of course there was security, then they took my picture and printed off a badge for me. I was in. Everyone needs some sort of badge. Obviously security is really important there.
The tour guide told us general information about the official UN languages (6) and the number of countries in the UN (191). They started with 50 when the league of nations became the united nations in 1945.
We walked through both the old palace, and the new palace. The guide pointed out a lot of gifts in the palace. Actually everything from the land and the park, to the walls and floor materials were gifts from members of the UN. Of course there were other gifts like art too.
They showed us 3 conference rooms, including one refurbished in 08/09 as a gift from Spain. It has a beautiful, colourful ceiling made by a Spanish artist. It represents the sea; well an upside-down sea. (Yes, the 'waves' are multi-dimensional.) There are so many colours (that were actually shot up onto the ceiling) that, apparently, the ceiling can look different depending on where you sit. The guide actually joked that the paint has dried and that nothing falls on anyone- no one has to wear a helmet in the room. It kinda looks like you should lol.
We saw the room from above, at the same level as the translation rooms. A few weeks ago in this room, Libya's membership was suspended because of the recent issues there.
Another interesting conference room in the old palace has painted walls depicting everything from war and slavery, to hope. Apparently it looks exactly the same as it did when it was built over 70 years ago. A lot of important things happened in the room- it is where they resolve conflict between members.
We couldn't see the main conference room in the old palace because the World Health Organization was having their annual conference. The main hallway was full of their booths. We couldn't go outside to the front or the park either, because of security. Oh and of course there were protesters outside the building. Something about Taiwan.
After the tour, I walked along the harbor where there is the highest fountain I've ever seen. It's in the middle of the lake, and the water goes as high as the buildings on shore! Crazy. It's a really pretty area.
Now I'm on the train to Berne and the scenery is gorgeous! Mountains, lakes, green hills. The lakes just sparkle here. Can't wait to see more!