As usual I am definitely under dressed for the overpriced cafe/bar. It has been so long since I have ordered a drink alone that I am afraid I have forgotten how to speak French.  I duck in the doorway and like a regular customer, call « Café noir s’il vous plait » to the barmaid, who is polishing glassware from the night before while the espresso machine hisses with steam.

traditional Swiss café

traditional Swiss café

At 8 a.m., there are only a few other patrons, a woman in the booth reading the newspaper, and a sleek glamour girl, who carries her elegant 6-foot-5 inch frame, as if she is balancing a tray of champagne flutes on her head. Her glamorous smile under a long mane of dyed red hair illuminates sharp cheekbones on a sculpted ebony face. Her bejeweled hands, disproportionally large, look too big to belong to a woman; however, her high-pitched voice trills as she chatters with another customer at the bar. It is impossible to tell whether she is a model or a trans; either way, she adds to the decor.

I sink into the round booth in the corner and sit facing the interior, so I can eavesdrop, which makes my thimble-sized, $4 cup of coffee worth the price. I toss my jacket over the Victorian era velvet upholstered chair and absorb the atmosphere, imagining secrets from the previous evening, emitted from the dark corners. The locale is a mixture of black leather booths, dark wood tables and red chairs.

A steady stream of customers arrives. Businessmen clutching attaché cases in one hand and iPhones glued to the ear in the other. Wealthy women stir cream into coffee absentmindedly, whiling away the time until the chic boutiques on avenue du Rhone open.

Behind me, dozens of newspapers -Tribune de Genève, Le Temps, 20 Minutes – hot off the press from my husband’s printing company, line the wooden window ledges for the regulars. It is reassuring to see the clientele propped in front of open pages. It means patrons are welcome to linger indefinitely over coffee and more importantly, that some Swiss citizens continue to actually read hard-copy news, instead of online.

The barmaid sets a china cup of black coffee in front of me and I sip, savoring the flavor.  For another $2, I splurge on a croissant and break my gluten free diet to imbibe. As I skim the newspaper, I tear apart the flaky layers and pop fluffy bits into my mouth, which melts into buttery bliss.

Tables of entrepreneurs, wheeling and dealing, begin to fill. A couple holds hands and a loner downs a beer at the end of the bar. No European café is ever complete without it’s four legged friend; not just any old mutt, but a pedigree with papers, wearing a cone, like a halo over its head.

« Keeps Princess from scratching her face after surgery, » I hear the owner tell the server.

Oh pulleez! Face lifts for poochie!

Only in Geneva!

On the most expensive place on the planet, even dogs are divine, living like royalty.