Saturday, 24 October 2009

Hidden gem in Geneva airport

Our family’s travel itinerary is a careful balance of interests: Monsieur R's desire to arrive extremely early for check-in, departure, etc “just in case” and Puce’s relatively short attention span in any area devoid of playable-with things.

Since having Puce, we now return to Scotland via Geneva, limiting the journey to only one aeroplane hop.  So we usually find ourselves twiddling our collective thumbs in Geneva airport, with hours to spare.  There are only so many times you can go round the luxury boutiques in the salle de d’embarquement, your toddler pinging the Swatch jewellery displays (invitingly at her height on bits of elastic).  Even the joy at finding a toyshop ebbs as you realise that your child has adopted that oversize dolly she’s hugging to death and only sharp negotiating skills and a wrestling match will get you out of the shop without it…

Hoping for a change of scenery and some distractions, we go and ask again whether the flight to Edinburgh is about to be announced.  And then, as if by magic (or maybe just seeing the haggard look in our eyes), one of the airport staff suggested that we go to the nursery on the first floor…  Did we say the magic word?  Utter some coded “open sesame”?

Sure enough, if you really look for it, you’ll find The Nursery on the first floor.  To say it’s well-stocked would be something of an understatement – a reading area with children's books in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and more…  A tiny table and chairs with paper and a rainbow of colouring pencils (Caran d’Arche! hello product placement!) … A climbing frame, shop, slide and cookery area for the over-5’s, and a smaller softer play area for the under 3’s…

As if this wasn’t enough – a changing room complete with fluffy towels, nappies and wipes!  Another door revealed a small but complete kitchen for preparing and heating baby meals and beyond that, another door leading to a sleeping room with several cots and a feeding chair!

And here’s the weird bit.  It was completely empty.  And meticulously tidy: two hobby horses had been placed at complementary angles, as if looking at each other, the paper was in a neat pile, the pencils all where they should be and the book displays neatly organised.  I have seen the devastation that anything upwards of 2 toddlers can create in approximately 30 seconds and this room had obviously been spared from the swarms of passing little people one floor below…

So the burning question is: does anybody else know about this place? Are they keeping it quiet so it doesn’t get messed up?  Is this the best kept secret in international travel?
Not any more...

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