Posts Tagged With: Guiding

Switzerland (Part 1)

Seeing as my Swiss adventure was a week-long escapade, and, in all honesty one of the most exhilarating experiences of my entire life thus far, I don’t think I could possibly put it all in one post, I’m just a little too impatient to do that.  

My adventure started on the Monday of my departure.  I woke up, feeling fine, still needing to pack, and with a couple of hours up my sleeve till my trip to the airport.  As the day wore on, I started to feel mighty crook, and put it down to partying that weekend.  Little did I know, I pretty much had either the WORST hay fever I could get before an international flight, or a head cold that would make my trip hell if gotten out of control.

After checking in, discovering my baggage was waaay under allowance, and going through those formidable doors to the international customs, security, passport control and terminals I realised I’d need at least some Panadol.  I can honestly say, next time, I’ll be buying it before I leave.

Upon boarding my flight I was delighted to discover not only was the seat next to me empty, but we were given hot towels by our airline.   I don’t think I expected this kind of awesome in an economy class, but you know, don’t hold high expectations and you won’t be disappointed.  I managed to sleep for most of the flight, waking only for food, and landing.

Arriving at Singapore airport, at 9:40 pm their time, and feeling a little worse for wear, and with 3 hours to kill, my first stop was the chemist.  I’m still not 100% sure what it was I bought there, but it worked!!  The whole time I was waiting I kept nodding off, only to wake, paranoid someone would steal my stuff.  Before I carry on, Changai airport is amazing.  The humidity is high, but that’s to keep the amazing display of orchids alive.  I really wish it was something I could photograph, but alas, thankyou terrorism, I can no longer take photos in airports like I did when I was ten.  Maybe I couldn’t then either, but who would suspect a blonde haired Anglo-Saxon child of anything other than “WOW! I’m OVERSEAS!”

Needless to say, at just before 3am my time I was boarding my flight to Zürich.  This was when the excitement really kicked in.  No it wasn’t because I was finally well on my way to my destination.  It was because I saw the A380 I was about to board, and the engineer in me got all happy and joyous.  For anyone interested in machinery and transport, these are amazing aircraft, and look truly… majestic, and yet intimidating at the same time.

During this flight I was surrounded by either a) people speaking various forms of Malaysian, Mandarin etc, and b) those speaking German.  Obviously not the staff, but one noted thing, on both flights announcements were made in English, but on the first flight, it was then repeated in Mandarin, and on the second in German.  It was rather odd.  On this flight I wasn’t lucky enough to have an empty seat beside me, instead I was seated in the aisle, with two blonde haired, blue-eyed Swiss children in the seats next to me.  After I fell asleep, all I remember is those two children, clambering over me, unsure of how to wake me up, when they wanted to go to the toilet or walk around.

Landing at your final destination is always a truly bizarre experience when travelling internationally, especially when you think “wtf, why am I in Canada?” for no apparent reason at all.  It probably had a lot to do with all the trees that are surround the airport.  damn Lumberjacks.

And again, during my whole stay in Switzerland, on public transport, everything was repeated at least three times, in English, German, and I think French, I really can’t remember.  One thing about arriving in Switzerland, even if you do go through the “I have something to declare” door, they tend to just… wave you on.

Catching the train was the next part of my challenge.  Finding the right train to the right place, in a place organised as well as Switzerland, when you are used to the substandard organisation of the Melbourne train system can be quite daunting.  Especially when even their regional trains were organised.  And had two levels.  That’s right, a double-decker train.  Not gonna lie, double-decker trains are pretty fun.  And even in economy, you have a little table to do work on, and LEG ROOM!  So organised.  Even the graffiti along the tracks was nice.  It said things like “Welcome to our hood” and that kind of thing, random F-bombs were sprayed here and there, but obviously by the few delinquents that got through the system.  The graffiti, I wish I had photos, but the train moved to fast, was actually really good, and didn’t look…  dirty.   Even swapping trains, then catching a bus was easy.  I asked for a ticket to Adelboden, not realising there were several Adelboden stops, and the driver looked at my shirt and instantly knew where I was going.

Now, on arrival to Our Chalet, it is traditional for guests to walk up the hill from the bus stop.  I get many questions of “how did you know where you were going?” etc.  The answer is this:  All members of WAGGGS have a homing beacon that tells us exactly where to go when we need to get there and its Scout or Guide related.  True story.

Actually.  This is how:

Yes that’s right, the route to Our Chalet is signed.  It makes life much easier, especially when you realise how tough that walk can be, when you’ve just travelled for over 24 hours.

After hiking up the path, and thinking I’d never make it, or somehow get lost, I found another sign, and the last tiny leg of my uphill battle.  That hill seems like such an easy climb now, after I did it every day for a week.  The first thing you see on your way up the small path to Our Chalet is Spycher:

And so my swiss adventure began….

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