YOU couldn’t script it if you tried. On the other side of the globe, Australia is basking in glorious heat as the country comes to life with a plethora of terrific sporting action on show. Contrast this too Geneva and Europe in general and we are currently freezing. This is a well-worn cliché of course at this time of year as Australia Day approaches but I have to say celebrating Australia Day in -6 degrees in 2012 took a bit of getting used to.
Firstly before I delve into a ‘Swiss’ Australia Day, I must admit that I am actually not an Australian but a Pommie (apologies for the latter). However I did live in Sydney for five very enjoyable years before making a recent move back towards Europe, so I do have an outsider’s view of the day. I have always admired the Australians for many reasons; grudging respect for your cricket team, surf before and after work but also the pride you show in celebrating Australia Day with your fellow brethren. Alas we English are too uptight about doing something similar for St. Georges Day and in these uncertain economic times, it is no bad thing for a nation to come together for a day to applaud one’s country.
So how did the Australian community celebrate Australia Day in Switzerland and more specifically Geneva? Researching where we could go and what was on did not result in too much on offer, but we were faced with the not too unpleasant task of selecting a couple of pubs who had advertised their establishment as a venue to acclaim Australia Day.
An Aussie mate of mine and I went in search of this entertainment and desperate to get out of the gloomy cold of Geneva decided that a beer to assess the options for the evening would be a wise start. We settled for the ‘Clubhouse’ in the centre of Geneva which more importantly was close to the station and some kebab houses to assist us pre and post pub travel plans. The ‘Clubhouse’ is a relatively well known watering hole in Geneva, popular with expats primarily to watch sporting events on television.
We remained there for the rest of the night. A pretty poor effort in terms of originality and getting about town to savour what the other Geneva pubs were offering. We fell at the first hurdle given that we were confronted by very welcoming hostesses, namely attractive bikini-clad ladies behind the bar with Australian accents. Added to the unwelcoming, inclement weather outside the bar we just found it too hard to leave. Maybe it was also the sight of the Australian flag and a couple of kangaroos printed on the bar ladies’ stomachs whilst reacquainting oneself with a Tooheys or two which persuaded us that there was no need to suffer from potential hyperthermia of stepping out into the cold again.
We were served within a couple of minutes, which was not always the case when trying to grab a beer in a pub on Australia Day in Australia. The music was flowing as were the games of pool and for a few hours we all felt like we were back in our respective locals watering holes in Australia again. I digress but the point being was that it was actually great to sit back, drink a tinny or two (all be it at the cost of a small African country’s GDP) and reminisce about the good times, all in the company of fellow Australians.
It wasn’t exactly the same as mingling with twenty thousand Australians on Bondi beach, dipping into the sea once in a while to get out of the heat and partying on the beach. However for a few hours, we did forget about the daily stresses, think about Australia and sit with mates talking about their home and memories. And that is what I admire about the Aussies most of all, being with mates, being proud of your country and celebrating it in the appropriate style with a beer or three.