The Problem With Self-Examination

Some bits about Geneva and Montreux, Switzerland as well

The Rhone runs through Geneva, making it easy to always know where you are.

One of the many reasons I travel is self-reflection. It’s an opportunity to step outside of yourself and examine who you are. I’m not sure why, but it’s easier to see things clearly when you’re away from home. This will not be a “let’s pity Chris” blog. I know who I am, I know who I’d like to be, and most importantly, I’m learning to accept all of it. Don’t underestimate the power of aging combined with a ticking clock.

I flew to Geneva after a week of watching my little Paco suffer from a serious spider bite and consequential gastroenteritis. At one point I held him in my arms and thought he was fading away; perhaps he was. Fortunately for me he recovered.

Being close to losing someone you love with every ounce of your being, helps you to put the world in perspective. Some will chuckle and think, “For fucks sake Chris, he’s only a dog.” I feel sad that some individuals have never experienced the unconditional love of a pet.

In short, as I reflect on my life back in Faro with Paco, I have come to realize that however brief it may be (in the scheme of things, it will be brief), it is a life I have created and it is a life I am meant to live. The way I see it, there are two ways that I can carry out this plan called living. The first is not an option for me: I could dwell on the past, feel sorry for myself, and wait for death to knock on my door. The more realistic and far more desirable option is to embrace reality, take control, and do my very best. And why not have a little fun in the process.

Happiness for me can be found in food, friendship, family and film — all fs by chance and not in order of preference. Then there is enjoying Paco, reading, playing games, physical stuff like cycling, walking and gym, designing my home, cooking, entertaining and much more. When I look at all that, all I can think is, wow, there are a whole lot of things that make me happy. It’s also true that when you get to be my age, having a day where you don’t pee 96 times and your arthritis isn’t too bad, that’s happiness too.

A Quick Story About My Current Situation

I looked at hotels in Geneva a few months ago. Prices for anything I might find comfortable in the centre of the city, were higher than expected and not within my budget. I try not to go over $150 a night and most hotels were $250 or more a night if you wanted a window — how can you be in a windowless hotel room and breathe? I looked at Airbnb and found what looked like a comfortable room in someone’s flat. A queen size bed is almost always required and a private bathroom is a must. Claudia’s place had all this and good reviews as well.

This magnificent view sealed the deal.

Sitting on Claudia’s balcony, taking in this beautiful Swiss city, helps me make sense of the world. An Airbnb in someone’s home can be less than ideal; listening to them carry out their daily lives, finding privacy, the inability to walk around in your underwear — all considerations. But to be in such a beautiful location, right smack in the centre of the city, for $140 a night, some sacrifices seemed reasonable. Traveling alone makes these decisions a bit easier for me. I don’t think I would do this “share” thing if I had a partner.

Back to Self-Reflection (I like this flow of consciousness thing, I hope you don’t mind)

The problem with self-examination is self-criticism . . . I got it bad. I could tell you what therapists have said over the years, but it would bore the shit out of you and pain me to put it all in writing. The bottom line is that I’m pretty fucking hard on myself. I want to do good, be good, act right and save the world; I want to do it everyday — it’s exhausting. Every time I screw up, I beat myself up and become mad at, well, everything.

I’m not saying that I need to stop reflecting; you all know people who don’t, am I right? People who breeze through life never taking responsibility or holding themselves accountable (very different things by the way; the former can be done without consequences). What I am saying is that me and anyone else involved in self-blame, needs to lighten up. Making mistakes is human and being human means we are bound to make mistakes.

What I Did Recently that I am Not Proud of:

I sort of grabbed a woman’s hands a few weeks ago when she was wrongly entering the train before people could exit. I warned her first and then I tried to pry her hands from the step railings. I stopped myself pretty quickly and backed off, but I am still angry at myself for, 1) touching her, and 2) allowing what she did to bother me. A friend who was present confirmed my cause for guilt, but also reminded me that I stopped when I knew that I was wrong.

They say we’re all a little angry over the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Add everyone’s personal stuff to the mix and you have one steaming world population. Not an excuse, not a pass to behave badly, merely a fact.

To those who have written to thank me for my candor; I want to say I appreciate that you read my blog and that you encourage me to share my truth.

Geneva and Montreux

Switzerland is high-end folks; almost everything is costly. You honestly can’t even get a burger for less than 12 Swiss Francs (the dollar is almost even right now). And that would be a sad burger indeed. But from where I’m sitting, what you do pay for is quality. All things Swiss seem to be very well made. They have a stable government, a strong economy, good infrastructure, the world’s respect, and it’s becoming much more diverse (immigration).

This was a four night getaway. I am here for three main reasons:

  1. Direct flight from Faro.
  2. I’ve never been.
  3. I liked Zurich a few years back and thought it was time to see another Swiss City.

The airport is only 25 minutes from the center. The #5 bus is the way to go for only three Swiss francs. You can also go by train, however, it does not run as frequently.

The weather is perfect in June and there are fewer tourists than there will be in July and August. I had some rain and clouds my first couple of days (I don’t mind) and then the sun came out for the rest of my trip.

I certainly don’t regret coming, but more and more, I want to be home. That’s what happens when you live in a beautiful place where you have wonderful friends, a pet, and good pillows to rest your head on.

I’ll share some observations about Geneva and Montreux: both places are walkable, excellent public transportation, and lots and lots of dining options.

I recommend La Rouvenaz in Montreux: fresh fish deliciously prepared (sole pictured), pretty reasonable considering, beautiful setting, and excellent service. Dessert pictured was from a coffee shop, not La Rouvenaz. That carrot cake was probably one of the best I’ve ever eaten; however, I always say that the setting helps enhance the taste.

Bap Korean, Geneva. Excellent Korean food. I always seek out a good Korean meal when I travel. Faro does not have a Korean restaurant. When they finally get one, I will be their best customer.

Ka Chon Thai. Authentic, tasty and great atmosphere. The chicken curry, coconut soup blew me away.

An abundance of excellent ethnic and street food.

Other Geneva tips: Victoria Hall for music (a bit garish, but fantastic acoustics), walk as much as possible, see Geneva by night, and stay away from the casino (even though I won some play money (money that is not mine, that I can play with) at the Texas holdem’ table). Trains in Europe (not Portugal) have become expensive. Go on-line and there are discount sites where you can purchase reduced price tickets, but you have to plan a bit in advance for really good discounts.

A Festival Outside My Airbnb Door Today

It was early morning before the crowds. My time to show up.

Sometimes shit just falls into your lap. Once a year, Geneva has a street sale where locals sell the crap they want to get rid of. It goes on for over a kilometer and right outside my door is where the bandshell and street food are located. I picked up a winter coat for my Northern Europe (October) and Norway (January) cruises. It’s been worn a couple of times and I bargained it down to 15 francs — it’s worth over 100 so there you go. I also got a scarf for Paco’s sitter and two great hats. They’ll have music and food all day, so I’m ditching my Museum of Natural History plans. It’s a beautiful day and I belong outside — after my seafood lunch of course. Off to Brasserie Lipp; I think it’s going to be excellent — I’ll let you know.

Truly memorable meal: Bird came to share my bread, bone marrow, and rock fish soup. Delicious food, beautiful garden setting, great service and a good value. I’d do it again in a quick minute.

The Old Town is hilly, but historic and worth a visit. Don’t waste your time at the Patek Philippe Museum; all they want is for you to buy a very expensive watch. They have no business luring you in by calling it a museum . . . it’s a shop.

Home to Faro and Paco tomorrow on an early flight. The best part of this trip has been the ability to look in the mirror and smile at my reflection.

Upcoming Travel

Milan in July, followed by Nantes/Pornic, France in August, Canada, Denver and Detroit in September, Northern Europe Norwegian Cruise in October, and Lyon in November. I’m trying my best to stay home more.

Au revoir jusqu’à la prochaine fois.

By CP

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1959. I've lived in several different places, but this is the first time I have resided overseas. My career has gone in multiple directions; however, education is my passion. My Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from New York University has opened many doors and for that I am grateful. Writing has become a pastime I enjoy and hope to further pursue. The future holds no limitations and I am keeping all of my options open. I have landed in Portugal and there is a vast and beautiful world to explore.

8 comments

  1. Chris, I always enjoy reading your blog posts. It takes a lot of guts to do the hard work of self reflection publicly. My hat is off to you.
    Also, so glad Paco is okay. 😘

    Like

  2. I Love to travel too and heading to LA and Colorado this week but I’m already missing it here! Love reading your stories. Happy travels!

    Like

  3. Wonderful read as I very much expected Chris.
    Now, I don’t ever have to go to Switzerland.
    ( I couldn’t mind-going to that’s Swiss yard -sale thing though.)

    Like

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