Sunday, June 29, 2008

Switzerland....


Wednesday 18th June






I thought it would be a good idea to go to school today to try and divert my thoughts from Switzerland and attempt to get into some Biology. Unfortunately the only topic of conversation was about not having those on the trip here and by the time for Geography all the talk of glaciers made my excitement unbearable! Mum picked me up at breaktime and I went into Kirkwall to grab last minute necessities. When it came round to heading off to the terminal I couldn't stop repeating how I couldn't believe it was time to go on the Swiss trip. It was strange seeing so many kids from school and their parents and seeing how they had inherited certain characteristics. As more people arrived the excitement grew and departing the parents was easier than expected for some. On the boat there was a buzz of conversation on what we were meant to expect. I made a habit of building up excitement about non-existent attraction. Starting with Ghent Hostel's swimming pool. It was a bad habit. After a quick game of poker, with minstrels being the chips, we arrived in Scrabster. It was now where we met our coach, Susie.Susie was a big purple beast with "burns" written all over her in orange bubble letters. Inside she was filled with luxury seats and full air conditioning. The toilet was not too bad either. Our driver to Perth was Doug; he was a cheery chap who kept us informed on safety and our next pair of drivers who were to pick us up at Broxden, Graham and Ian. We were warned that Graham enjoyed wearing his kilt abroad and he had also brought his guitar along. We were all concerned.Aboard we localised ourselves with out new home for the next two days (at least) and had some long distance chats to Doug. Some of us enjoyed a game of happy families and our own version, Dysfunctional families. Although asking for people's mum's lead to far too many "your mum" jokes for some to handle.We made a stop at Tesco's in Inverness to get food for the night and everyone ran to the biscuit and bakery aisles. We were given the precise time of eight-forty to return to be back on the coach. Most people followed this demand except for two culprits, Dave and Christina, who held us up for five of ten minutes as there was "a problem with the toilets," or something along those lines. Our next stop was Newtonmore which was the location of my primary school excursion. Although it was just a toilet stop in an area outside the town I still tried to spot the areas we had visited on the previous trip. There was a strong feeling of midges in the air so few people stayed out for long, thought those who did played an express Frisbee game. Our last stop made by Doug was at Perth where our new drivers were taking over. We were all devastated to see Doug go as he was so informative and cheery about it, constantly cracking jokes! Through our windows we saw two, then unknown, drivers upload all their belongings aboard Susie. Susie actually belonged to Graham so he should feel right at home. At first we were unsure what to think about our new drivers at first but Graham unleashed some of his humour early on the trip with an unexpected voice whispering, "Are you awake? I'll sing you a wee song to get you to sleep," across the tanoy. Meanwhile SirIan would stroll along the aisle with a basket of sweets, just like the Easter bunny. Although we never got a lullaby in the end we got to sleep as Susie powered on.






Thursday 19th June






I woke up at about four in the morning as the coach had stopped at a service station. The lack of motion must have surprised my body allowing me to wake up though it appeared I wasn't the only one as man dishevelled faces peered over their seats. There was another short stop to stretch our legs before we were on the road to Calais again, though the majority returned to the land of nod. We stopped for breakfast at a service station just outside London, in Watford or somewhere. For most of the girls the first port of call was the bathrooms to fix hair and make up, shamefully I was one of them, and the boys queued for breakfast. The automatic flush and tap addition to the toilets provided amusement to most but Rachel was struck with the one design fault as her camera fell in the sink which started a trickle of destructive water. After some giant cups of Costa coffee and overpriced toasties it was time to hit the road. Again. We arrived in Dover but had to wait in a queue of holiday coaches for about half an hour before we could board. We were shocked to see small windows and doors peering out from the chalk cliffs of dover. It seemed there were houses in the cliffs! Somehow the whiteness of the chalk cliffs at Dover made the sea look an odd shade of green. For me at least, the boat across to Calais was one spent lying down as the lack of sleep had caught up with me. Though others spent their time eating, spending their newly acclaimed Euro's in the duty or daring the wind on the outer deck. As we all sat round a table eating chips we sat and watched to see whose phone would change network first. It appeared O2 UK covers most of the English Channel and the Calais coast. On arrival in Calais we got our first refill of vitamin D as the sun shone upon is for, what felt like, the first time in months. Calais itself was not incredibly impressive as we stopped off at a petrol station that consisted of two petrol pumps and a crumbling concrete wall. As a group of geography students we are expected to know, at least, where famous landmarks are. This was not the case for Lillie as she mistook a crumbling ruin in Calais for the Berlin Wall. As we drove trough France we watched Forrest Gump and various pirated DVD's supplied by Skidz. Passing the boarder to Belgium was very nonchalant as there was barely any boarder control and just a sign seemed to separate the two countries. It was not until we arrived in Ghent before the excitement of being abroad hit us. We were relieved to get off the bus and into a real bed, although some of our standards of luxury were not met by the Gent Jugendherberge. We were housed in rooms of five and l was sharing with Caroline, Sarah, Lillie and Briony, l was in for a quiet nights sleep anyway! Once we had just about settled in we had to go down for tea. For starters it was a vegetable soup; those less travelled members of our group were shocked not to have Heinz from a tin. There was then about half an hour to shower and change our bed clothes. Well the shower, to be honest, was not much different to my own at home but I have been moaning to my elders to get a new one. Basically it was barely a shower but a metal tube dribbling on you. Christina got a lovely surprise as she was putting on her bed sheet as someone had scrawled "l had sex here!" on her mattress so her stay was made a lot more comfortable. At six-thirty we gathered outside the hostel ready for a cultural walk around Ghent. The early birds sat in a square immediately outside the hostel and waved at passers by and shouted foreign greetings at, what turned out to be English tourists. l felt rather disorientated while walking through Ghent as l couldn't quite get to grips with the situation l was in as l had be anticipating this trip since my sister started secondary school. As we walked through Ghent we passed many odd buildings and sculptures and crossed over countless bridges. The old, "touristy" part of the city was so picturesque. You would have thought it had been build just for viewing purposes it seemed so miniature. A typical postcard scene. Just behind us was the Gravensteen castle and in front of us was the Sint-Michielsbrug Bridge. We split up into our "friendship groups" and took a stroll along the river. Some went to get ice creams, coffees and postcards, others went to speak to the locals. They chose the friendliest looking locals but it was the wrong type of friendly. The type that ask you too their room as they can show you the real Ghent...Back at the hostel we regrouped and l got the pleasant surprise that Briony had invited some Spanish men, who were staying in the hostel, to visit our room. Now that was clever. Mrs Cooper came past to check we were all heading to bed and we were seriously going to have ten minutes of reading time. Realistically it was no more than two minutes before there was a knock at the door and we shrieked as we saw two pairs of feet could be seen through the vent at the bottom of the door. Briony was eager to let them in but the rest of us were not so keen. After loud shrieks and squeals coming from our room they must have been scared off by Francis or Mrs Cooper as they came to investigate. When we actually thought about going to bed Briony warned us that she would fall asleep first and we all knew too well that trying to sleep after Briony's hit the hay is not the easiest thing in the world. She didn't let us down as she had possible the deepest breathing and we were sure she was making crying noises, yet she wasn't actually crying. Soon enough was enough and all that was left to do was throw the brie smelling blanket over her to wake her up and create a soundproof barrier.






Friday 20th June






We were planning to leave Ghent at eight-thirty that morning so breakfast was an hour before. After breakfast we had to make packed lunches for our day-long bus journey to Les Mosses. We were impressed by the fact that our packed lunches were actually in brown paper bags, as seen on so many TV-shows. Our other morning duty was stripping our beds and packing up. Although it was not the most pleasant place to stay and it was only for a night we, strangely enough, grew attached to our room in Ghent. Although once it was cleared out it turned back to looking like a prison cell. Onboard the bus we were ordered to stay quiet and respect that Graham was doing the driving manoeuvre of his life. I give him lots of credit for his driving skills as I would not like to drive a fifty seater coach down the streets of Ghent's old town. As we left Ghent we saw that it wasn't picturesque all the way to the greenbelt and it was just the same as any other city. However that didn't spoil our views on the night we had just spent there. We drove out of Ghent and bypassed Brussels before leaving Belgium altogether and returning to France. Though soon after France it was into Luxembourg, although we only stopped off at a service station we still got to be in Luxembourg. At the service station we had our lunch (though most of us had already devoured our packed lunches on the bus) and went to the shop and discovered many weird and wonderful items of food and drink that are not available in the UK.Just before our actual arrival in Switzerland we stopped of at the passport control to stretch our legs and when we found out that the toilets didn't actually work we got on the road again. I had my own personal countdown when we passed the French and Swiss flags (which told us we had arrived in Switzerland) as we had finally arrived in our main residential country. In Lausanne and other larger towns we drove through on our way in it was noticeable that is was Euro 2008 and although that we couldn't keep up with the fixtures you could see the many fans out the window. A game that had become popular when we were back in London was waving and trying to get truck drivers to honk their horn, a very popular game with school trips I can imagine. It was even more popular with the drunken football fans.While driving through the landscape looked as if we were just driving alongside a postcard. It looked too perfect. Mrs Cooper could hardly contain her excitement when she saw some snow topped mountains. There were many points when we realised how we were all a big bunch of British tourists on a bus tour as we fought our way to get to the window to photograph Lake Geneva and Montreux. Graham kept us amused by giving out sweets from his basket and playing the “Yes/no” game with us and only about three people managed to reach fifteen questions without saying yes or no. It seemed that we kept going up more and more mountains and we were all gazing out the window trying to find the Hotel that matched the photograph. Although we passed the hotel at first we turned back and found our way back and we were an hour late before we arrived at the hotel, called La Sapiniere in Les Mosses. When we arrived we had to quickly dump our luggage in our rooms before we had a much delayed dinner. Afterwards there was a short meeting about our many activities we were partaking in tomorrow and Mr Lawson opened banko de Lawson and handed out Franc's to us all.It must have been about ten o clock before we could head back to our rooms and unpack. Though there was little unpacking as we investigated our new home and the advantages of the balconies. When we attempted to sleep Lillie began to get paranoid thinking that there was someone in our room. This led to the second night of loud shrieks of fear coming from our room though Lillie seemed to be convinced that we were not alone. Before long all three of us were huddled in the top bunks and when up there we could all hear scratching on the walls which sounded like it was coming from the bottom bunks, which I had just abandoned. None of us had the balls to go move and turn on the light, that was how petrified I had become. Then there was a knock at the door.Mrs Sinclair had come to investigate as she could hear us from the other end of the corridor. I managed to climb over the other two as I guessed that if there was someone in the room they would hide from the light/responsible adult. Although I was a bit too frantic and managed to break the bed and my foot went straight through the frame. When I finally got to the door the only excuse I could think of was night terrors. I had watched a documentary about them once and it seemed the only thing that would explain why Lillie was screaming at the top of her lungs in pitch darkness and getting some sympathy during the explanation. We got more sympathy than expected as Mrs Sinclair told us she had experienced night terrors until the age of thirty and not to worry. Lillie managed to recover from her terrors after that though Briony continued to sleep talk into the night.






Saturday 21st June






We were woken up early as we had to have breakfast at 7:30am and we all gathered, looking rather dishevelled (as very few got to bed before midnight), in the dining room. For breakfast we were given fresh bread, newly churned butter and jam for breakfast. Then we made our packed lunches which consisted of cheese, ham an lettuce sandwiches, a “Hopp” bar(the swiss equivalent of our Mars bar) , an apple and some juice. At about nine we were scheduled to walk to the fromagerie, L'Alpage de Lioson, to watch the traditional cheese making process. The sun was shining as we set out and along with the spectacular scenery, made the walk rather pleasant and it went quicker than expected. The smell of the curdling milk hit us way before we actually came anywhere near the fromagerie.Mr Harnden led us into a small stone cottage and inside it was very dark and Smokey. There was one large cauldron with boiling milk inside that was inside a furnace. We were greeted by a tall man with a long face with beady eyes. The Man of Cheese, whose name I cannot recall(though my Rayburn tours activity book informs me that he was called Blaise Chabliax), gave us a briefing on how cheese is made and how each process was carried out. Then we got to watch him and his German assistant dredge out the curds and mould them into rounds before they are left to set for...a very long time... I was quite shocked when he started drinking the whey that he was currently draining from the cauldron and then even more so when he offered me a sip. Though looking back on it, it would have been quite interesting to try it. He gave us each a sample and then we bid farewell to him and walked back to the Hotel. At eleven, once we had picked up our packed lunches and belongings, we were back aboard Susie and were driving east to the town of Les Diablerets. It was here where we were split into our “activity groups” for the first time in the trip. There were four groups of ten, each led by one of the teachers, mine being Mrs Cooper. She was a veteran of this trip and since the previous years actually stayed in LesDiablerets she knew the area pretty well. Once she gave us the tour everyone split up into their “friendship groups” and went a wander around the area. Although we were in search for shops pretty much all of them were closed except for a general store and patisserie(not that I am complaining about the latter!). Outside one of the cafÈ’s was a rather impressive chopper with flames painted on it and there were many photograph oppertunities with it. Some people went to get lunch but most of us fifth years went to get an ice cream and went to sit by the river for lunch. The river looked so tempting to swim in though all we could get away with was paddling. Of course it also looked tempting to drink out of and Manson and I did not consider the fact this was a town and could be contaminated before we took a drink. We are still here so it can’t have been that bad! We ate our lunch and generally waited around until we were meant to get back on the bus. Dave and I decided we didn’t want to eat our oranges for lunch so decided to use them as a ball and have a game of catch. It was all going smoothly until it began to get holes and orange juice was pouring out of it as you through it and landed in the recipient’s face. At two the whole group gathered and we got the bus up to travel up the Col du Pillon to get a cable car to Scex Rouge and the Glacier de Diablerets AKA Glacier 3000. It is 3000m above sea level and the three pupils who were scared of heights were going to have a whale of a time! The cable car up gave an amazing view and was all very exciting. Once you got the majority of the way up you had to catch another one to get to the top. As we drove up to the Col du Pillion there was a billboard that advertised the highest rollercoaster above sea level. Unfortunately it had not been tested by the OIC health and safety people so we were not allowed to do it. The thing that enticed us most of all was that it had three jumps. How do you get jumps on a rollercoaster? It also had eleven waves, whatever they were. When we saw it we couldn’t see the jumps or waves either and it looked rather old(though it was only opened in May the previous year) and it didn’t look to thrilling. Then again I suppose things can only be thrilling to an extent when you are three-thousand metres above sea level. Once we took in the impressive landscape, which included a view of the famous Matternhorn, we spotted the chairlift and hopped onboard. Christina and I, and many other thrill seekers, would lift the “safety” bar up though when we showed Lilith and Briony behind us they were less than excited and sat gripping the bar for dear life. When we got to the bottom we were greeted by a pummelling of snowballs. This was quite unexpected as it was rare to have a snowball fight in June but we were surrounded by snow, so in a way it was expected. It was at that point that we realised wearing vest tops was a bad choice. After our fair share of ice down our tops and in shoes we headed back up again. I decided to continue upwards as there was another stairway that lead to a bar with picnic tables, though I did not stop there as I realised you could get even higher! The top viewpoint was called the Belvedere viewpoint and had a fantastic panorama. There was some giggles when reading the map that there was a nearby mountain called Haut Sex…The lack of oxygen made too much laughing a headache and soon everyone began to descend down to the bar where we were given free pastries by some over-friendly bar stewards, even though the pastries were out of date. It didn’t help when Caroline said to them that I was fluent in German and I had to order food and drink. Before we knew it time had flown by and we had to catch the coach bak to Les Mosses for tea. That evening, before and after tea, I re-discovered table tennis. Infact from after tea and going to bed I hardly went indoors as everyone gathered around the table to partake in our extreme table tennis round robin tournament. Graham then joined us all with his infamous guitar and that was the cherry on the cupcake that was the atmosphere. The majority of students and teachers were down enjoying themselves in a game of extreme table tennis or singing along with G-Force. With our campfire songs and tennis atmosphere that everyone seemed to be enjoying we were glad that we were only sent up to be after eleven-thirty.






Sunday 22nd June






This morning was our earliest yet as the coach left the hotel at eight. We were heading to the German speaking area so I was dead excited as I could finally communicate and understand without looking like a pillock. We travelled on the coach along the Rhone valley then up the Alps to Goppenstein. From there we had to catch a post bus up To the Langglestscher as no other buses or coaches were allowed that far up the glacier. Arriving at Goppenstein we had to wait about twenty minutes before it arrived. I amused myself by buying swiss sweets, biscuits and come ice tea with cannabis extract, which I could not have avoided though fear of random drug tests meant I did not finish it! While on the post bus it showed us that it had a rather impressive horn. Although every unsuspecting cyclist probably thought otherwise. The bus dropped us off at the Fafleralp and the sun was out in all it’s glory. Mrs Cooper couldn’t express enough how much she wanted everyone to wear suncream and their sunhats. We split in to our different groups and set out in different directions. Now, I know that earlier I said that Mrs Cooper was a veteran on this trip, well she let us down on the orienteering. Although she did what any other person would do and followed the arrow that all the other German tourists were going she got us lost. We never saw the snout of the glacier up close but we got a view from higher up as we went up the mountain trail on the other side. The view was still beautiful and the only difference was that our field sketches were rather different, without taking in the fact of the skilful level of the drawing itself...After lunch we headed back down the hillside to meet the other groups heading back from the glacier. Our feet could hardly take the swealtering heat therefore we decided that walking over bridges wouldn't help the situation. Walking through the streams did. We all merged into one big group and took a detour to view more fascinating panorama's before reaching the Fafleralp where we stopped for ice cream, drinks and postcards. I got a chance to try out my german for the first time on the trip as I had to ask for “siebzehn Briefmarken.” There was never going to be enough time to write all seventeen postcards there and then and we then had to hop aboard the post bus. It's destination was “Extrafahrt,” which when pronounced in German or English caused a giggle. It was a similar journey home than on the way there except this time we were waiting in anticipation to get to these thermal baths we had heard so much about. The temperature at the glacier and inside te post bus was not terribly sweltering but when we arrived at the thermal baths it was warmer outdoors than inside the bus. It was a disgusting heat that made it difficult to breathe. Which made the pools even more desirable.We were made to wait outside the baths while Captain H went in to collect fifty-odd electronic tickets to let us in. They had a system where you had to swipe the ticket and then a green light would come on to unlock the gate. The changing cubicles themselves were even worse! The changing room was unisex and then you walked into a cubicle from one enterance, flipped a bench down to lock it and when you were done you flipped the bench back and walked through the back door that opened as a door to reach lockers. Naturally this system was not cracked by the cunning team on this trip. Lockers were also powered by this card though there were no bar readers and green LED lights just a slot and key release. Clad in our bathing suits we entered the pool(not without showering first). Immediately on the right there was an indoor pool that when you were underwater you could hear classical music playing and on the left you had the a small pool that decended downwards into the outdoor pools. There was a regular shaped square pool, though appeared to be full of couples, and another huge, more irregular shaped, pool with many exciting water features contained inside. The water outdoors was just as warm as the surrrounding air and it's main attraction was a "whirlpool" which did exactly as its name suggests. It would pull you in, usually not on your own accord and trying to get out was even harder, especially on your first few attempts, and most of the time you were stuck in the jacuzzi in the centre of the whirl pool, though thats hardly anything to complain about. Around the outer edge of the whirlpool there were deck chairs surrounded but jet streams. There were miscellaineous buildings sprawled around the poolside joined together by a system of bridges. Unfortunately we were not eligable to enter such buildings. However we could swim under the bridges to reach yet more jacuzzi's at the edge of the pool. Slap-bang in the middle of the pool was a mushroom made of water which you could hide behind. As well as the mushroom there was some power hoses on a ledge which gave your back(or whatever body part you exposed to it...) a efficiant exfoliation. We were late coming from the Langgletscher so we had less time in the pool than first antisipated. There was the same taboo with the keycards as even less of us were allowed out of the changing rooms again.(l generally need help with what we did each evening)That evening we had dinner(insert Dinner we had omce someone reminds me and the description if any gory details), had the routine extreme(extreme) table tennis practice and were hearded round for our daily meeting and were told about going up Mont Blanc tomorrow. Manson's face just lit up when he heard the viewpoint was 3842m high, and you got there by cablecar...






Monday 23rd June






Our earliest breakfast to date,0700. By now we had worked out how to use the coffee machine so our bread and jam was accompanied by a morning pick-me-up. Caroline also got in the habit of making my packed lunch for me, which gave mem an extra ten minutes in the shower. Although Briony wouldn't be so pleased as l was blamed for using up all the hot water, the hot water that never runs out that is. The bus left the hotel an hour after breakfast and (insert film ,transformers?, watched on the bus) was stuck straight into the dvd player as we had a long busjourney through the Rhone valley, across the French border to Chamonix, the home of Mont Blanc.The heat outside was in the thirty's and we made many precautions on the bus to ensure we don't walk into a large purple oven when we return. Immediately above us we could see a cable car ascending upwards. We assumed thats where we were going, the itinerey said we were going to the lower slopes first and knowing the size of Mont Blanc(4807m for those who don't) that could easily be the lower slopes.We were wrong, firstly we had to wait outside by a monument as Captain H went in to get another fifty-odd electronic key cards to get about Mont Blanc. A creperie lay across the road from the monument we were waiting at and it was so tempting to get a crepe, as i do whenever i am abroad but time failed me between whapping on the suncream and being shuffled towards the funicular railway. This particular funicular railway was a small red thing that shuffled its way up the side of the gigantic mountain for half an hour. There were many touristy moments as we fought for a space at the window to take some snapshots, but it was ok as everyone onboard was a tourist. The railway screeched to a halt and we reached a veiwing platform where you could see a very spiky arete(through ice plucking) and a glacier, also known as the Mer de Glace(sea of ice). While we regrouped Rachel and i managed to pick out another school trip which were a whole extra attraction altogether...Next we had to decend (almost) vertically onto the glacier in a tiny cramped cable car which was really not that far from the ground at all( nothing compared to the next cable car experience). At the base we had to walk down a dozen flights of stairs before we reached the glacier. As you walked in you had to dodge the droplets of meltwater at the snout. Inside the ice looked fake, but then again i had not seen any glaciers to compare to this one. There was a polar bear carved out of the ice as well as many other sofas and seats(which you couldn't sit on). The majority of us attempted to 'taste' the ice. Looking back, and learning about glacial transportation, this wasn't the best of plans. Near the exit there was a small area set up with a woman and a camera. What you didn't see was the St. Bernard, and as soon as you did you wanted to pay the six euros to get your photo with it. But as soon as you got close the smell of the dog got stronger and you started to regret it. It was not long before we headed back up the labyrinth of stairs to the cable car and back up in the cable car. We had our lunch on the viewing platform and browsed the touristy stalls and had some ice cream, which seemed to be a reoccurance at every stop.The journey down on the railway was almost exactly the same as it was on the way up except for the obvious, the direction. Back in the heat of the valley floor we got back on the bus,and with our efforts it was still boiling and just bearable. So the air conditioning was on full blast as we headed along the road for just under a mile until we got to the cable cars to reach Aiguille du Midi. These were the highest and most famous cable cars in THE WORLD, Manson's knees were shaking already. There was quite a queue to get to the cable cars and they were nothing like the decadence of the Glacier 3000 cable cars. Here they were the same size but with twice as many people inside and no chairs for those feeling a tad uneasy. As well as being stuffy and claustrophobic they weren't as smooth as we had previously experienced, with at least two major shakes to make everyone scream. NOT COOL! There was onecable car that took you the majority of the way up and then you had to hop onto another one that took you the final, and steepest leg of the journey. You were only at the touristy part with the gift shops and restaurants the Aiguille du Midi was still another lift ride up. We were warned about the lack of oxygen at the top and not to wear ourselves out. Mrs Cooper also ensured we all had our sunglasses and sunhats on. It was a beautiful clear day so the panorama was spectacular. When you came off the lift you had the summit of Mont Blanc on your right and a view of Chamonix and the alps on your left. There were some climbers climbing close to the summit and l envied them slightly as they were enjoying a view a handful people had ever seen. Although the view we were stuck with was definatly not something i need complain about! The majority of the time on Aiguille du Midi was spent taking photos of each other with the mountains just to prove we were actually there. As the lack of oxygen began to kick in we headed back down to scouwer the girft shop. Regretfully l didn't buy any tat as l was sure photos would be enough. At this point there were two cable car points. One took you back down to Chamonix and the other one took you to italy. Now there is an easy way to cross the border with little hassle!Back on the bus Graham said we should hang around for a bit while he turns on the air conditioning to try and improve the conditions on the bus. Compared to earlier that day it was like stepping into heaven as the temperature was actually bearable. The journey home was accompanined by [lnsert film] and left over lunch and chocolate from the gift shop. We had an early tea as we were booked into the bowling alley for quarter-to-eight. It was a forty five minute bus journey to the town of Villeneuve where there was Fun Planet, the location for bowling. As you walked in there was just a basement jam-packed with arcade games. The bowling ally's were upstairs along with the usual hockey tables and table top games. We had booked ourselves into half of the lanes but a screw up with the computers meant that they had to re-enter all of our names and in a random order and not necesarilly with the correct spellling, or correct name.In my lane l had; Erland, Ewan(though appeared as Ethan on the screen) and Lillie. The bowling alley turned on it's UV lights and we all started to glow in the dark which made bowling terribly exciting!We were given two games and our team finished especially early so we took advantage of the two hockey orientated games upstairs(ln which l ruled at to be brutally honest.. ;D) until Mr Lawson forced us to stop, although there was still twenty seconds left in what was an incredibly tense and violent game, so it was probably for the best it was kept as a draw. Time had flown by and it was already nearing eleven so we had to hop back on the bus. Graham had switched on radio G-force and my it was on form! Suited the evening perfectly. After catching a Ratatta(P.J.) we were sent to our rooms as it was well past our bedtime.






Tuesday 24th June






i had been excited about this day as soon as we got the itinery from the first letter about the Swiss trip. Today was the day we went to the chocolate factory and, most importantly in my case, my pilgrimage site as a Freddie enthusiast, Montreux. We were allowed to stay in bed later as the coach wasn't picking us up until 10. A few of us got up early anyway and went down to the local shop and post office. There was a small supermarket and another souvenier shop, l did not leave with souveniers however, i left with a beach ball and frisbee. So practical. We headed north away from Les Mosses, in the oppisite direction than normal, to the town of Broc. This was the home of the Nestle Callier chocolate factory. It was Ellis' birthday today and Graham and Sir-lan presented her with a present, a switzerland pillow. The journey was about an hour long but and when we arrived we walked past a large white building with the famous Nestle logo. Next to it was a swankier looking building which looked more like a school that a chocolate factory. We accumulated outside while the tour was sorted. However we first had to do into a mini-cinema and watch a short film, on what l am not too sure as it was entirely in French. There was a small girl who kept reappearing who got to have all the chocolate.(PJ:Chewed up pro plus anyone?) We then were escorted through to a corridor with many moulds and chocolate related machinery and the walls were decorated with out of place stickers of astronauts and kangeroos? Very strange. In the next room there was a centre piece of many sacks of cocoa beans, which we were offered to taste. Bad choice. This time the wall had a map with no particular layout, countries seemed to be all over the place. Next there was a room with many, many videos showing the production of the chocolate. Some of the films were on screens on the floor, these films were fast moving ones. Katherine had a great time racing on these and jumping over various virtual hurdles. There were also some, arguable, live videos from the factory and there was great amusement when a worker waved to us. As we moved on there were these odd chimneys in which you could put your nose to them and smell the chocolate. Odd but did its purpose. Then it was the part we had all waited for, the chocolate tasting. The majority of us couldn't wait to get our hands on some of the sweet stuff! The reason its so good is because they use condensed milk instead of fresh milk which is always good! The tasting part went by quickly as you stomach seemed to fill up much more rapidly than you would have hoped. When you left the tasting room you got a glimpse of the factory and some machines churning some liquid chocolate. Mouthwatering, l think so. Then there was a room of more old-chocolate-making machinery before you got to the shop. Where the queue for the checkout seemed to last to enternity. Each of our bags got named and were kept under the bus for the rest of the day to prevent melting. The visit was short and sweet(ha, ha) and we got back aboad Susie and headed south to the northern shores of Lake Geneva to Geneve itself. We headed into the big city, the first big city we had been to since travelling across Switzerland. We got off the bus and had to walk across various road, past a chair with three and a half legs, ghandi before finally walking along a continuous path round the building to security. Once we got there we got a break, a very long one as there was some comotion about how some people found it insulting that some girls had short-shorts on. However we were allowed in but we each had to go through airport-esc security. We headed down some marble stairs past a huge map(they like their maps here in Switzerland) and across a courtyard(well a car park) to a less impressive looking building with some sofas and leaflets. Some headed downstairs for a toilet stop past a tiny conference room into a less-then-UN standard toilet. Upstairs there was a gift shop which was terribly tempting but we had to meet our tour guide, OH MY GOD WHAT WAS HER NAME! I CAN'T REMEMBER! As we could tell from her accent, she was german. We were escorted into a big foyer with esculater and footballs popping up all over the place. We headed to the main conference hall where we were in a viewing booth with earpieces that could be streamed in to hear all the translators. Here we were asked questions such as "which country could be the Holy See? What's a Holy country?" When lillie shouted Hawaii and Briony answered with Bethlehem(as a country remember) the tone for any other questions asked was set. As we continued onwards we were shown various art pieces donated from various countries such as a large tapestry from China which had a walkway that followed you as you walked past. Briony found a particular wall piece particulary entreiging as she went up and pressed the “Press room” sign post just to see what might happen. We were lead into the older building that was made of marble, pillars, huge windows and pottery and paintings from around the world. One room we were taken too was another conference room which was covered in murals (more pillars) and green leather seats. This was a very important room where many historical events took place. There had been meeting of representatives minutes before we went inside, you could still smell the politics! After that we headed to the main main conference room which was very modern and huge! Nicky couldn’t stop himself and broke the desk he was at and thankfully for him the tour ended at that point. We said Tsusch to our tour guide and headed through the car park to the exit which was decorated with peacocks with their tails in full flourish, to Neal’s delight. We walked back round to the bus and drove to the other side of Lake Geneva to Montreux. I could bearly contain myself as we drove past the Freddie statue though we kept going as it seemed impossible to find a parking space for a fifty-seater. We passed a fantastic seaside castle called the Castle of Chillion and many designer shops that made many of the girls eyes light up before we were deposited at a bus stop close to the Freddie monument. First to strike a pose was Skidz who put heart and soul into it. We all queued up to get a shot with him though some were banished as they did not know who Freddie was… After the excitement we went a brisk walk along this small portion of the Swiss Riviera. The majoity sampled more ice cream and wandered along the promanade Though l was in the minority who decided to take our love for water fights at the hotel to Montreaux with a twist. Perched on a set of steps you couldn't help admiring the fountain in the square which local kids(and adults) were running through. After being on a bus all day and when we were not on the bus we were in the swealtering heat,we natuarlly needed to cool down somehow and Lake Geneva just wasn't as desirable... Lets just say Graham was not too pleased with our damp selves on his leather seats!






Wednesday 25th June






An early start, comparitave to yesterday, at 0700 though the majority did not wake up until 0730, fifteen minutes before the coach left for ltaly. l managed to hold up the coach by forgetting my rather important purse behind and legging it up a gravelly hill in flip flops it hardly comfortable. We watched [insert film] which kept the majority amused though l fell asleep and woke up at the St. Bernard Pass to see a large man with slicked back hair eating a pizza and this sterotype gave me the hint we were entering ltaly. This sight inspired me to look for more italian stereoypes, the greaser was gone so only the italian stallion and the Dolmio Day family to go. However, when we got through the St. Bernard Tunnel ltaly looked exactly the same as Switzerland. Wooden chelet's and high mountains everywhere.Aosta was pretty much the first town we got to and it was quite different to Switzerland. Houses got more square shape and were made or rock and old men sat outside reading the paper exclaiming "Mamma mia!" OK so maybe not the latter. We drove past a school and Susie must have been the most exciting thing the kids had seen as they ran along the bus waving at us.When we arrived in Aosta the bus was stationed at the town's bus station, this caused comotion with the locals. The teachers lead us along to the town centre and looking around there were roman ruins everwhere. We had an hour or so before siesta when we would be advised to get out of the sun. At first l went a wander down the windy streets with the boys and you could spot your fellow travellers a mile off. We all looked in shops but they were all expensive italian brands so it was decided that the best thing to do was spend money on italian cusine. There were some outdoor tables in the main square which was surrounded by quaint pedestrianised streets and a grand town house which we managed to convince Briony was the Pope's house. Aosta was giving us blinding light an temperatures which were nearing 30 degrees celsius which was expected for this time of year however in winter the streets could be laden with snow and a Christmas tree would be erect in the middle of the square. lt was an odd sight to picture. Andrew, Erland, Ewan, Nicky and l all sat down for some authentic ltalian pizza and thankfully the waitress could understand English but we tried our best at italian..."Pour Favorae??Gratzie."(note the phonetical spelling). We got our cutlery in these paper bags with cartoony beer barrels and mugs on it. When the pizzas arrived, my it was a grand moment as we "ahhhhh.."-ed in it's presence. And my did it taste even better than it looked.

We began discussing legal ages in Europe for things such as alcohol and tobacco. We then debated on who could most and least likely pass for eighteen. Andrew came out as the least but he was determinded to prove us wrong. Therefore he went on a trip to a 'negozio', with my sister student card just incase, to try out his luck. After about ten minutes we saw him walk through the sqaure back to meet us, it looked like he had failed on his personal mission as he wasn't carrying anything and he was looking rather glum. He came and sat down rather solomnly and as we enquired he procced a plastic bag from his front pocket. Inside it had tobacco, ehich he bought and a pipe and lighter, which the shop keeper gave him. Shoked and amazed we were not too sure how he managed it. Maybe the legal age is twelve in italy...
When it was time for the bill to come, Erland said he was going to ask for it in ltalian but didn't believe my translation, though it was genuine. Instead they got the jist anyway but we did not get the jist of the bill. Since we didn't understand it we just put €20 in each. This left a €20 tip and the waitress seemed so astonisged that we tipped so generously, we were also quite astonished once we realised but asking for it back would just be rude. It was pretty much time to regroup in the shade before leaving before the Siesta. When everyone was back, armed with gelato's, we headed back to the coach. The walk took us back past old roman ruins that sat next to high rise offices. When we got back on the bus the heat was almost, just almost, unbearable. Many of our 'Hopp' bars were now a Hopp soup, very lovely. Graham put the air-con on full pelt as we steamed toward our next destination, Labirinthe Fun Park.
All we knew about this place was the big slide seen in all the past Switzerland trip photos and the large maze, as hinted by the name. When we got there it was fairly hard to find the enterance as there was a bit of a maze and a gate before you got there. When we were all paid for we walked into this tent full of wooden kids games and a sweet shop. Not too bad. When we got outdoors there were small children weaving in between your feet while pelting water balloons, merely missing you. One of the intrieguing things we saw upon entry was what was just a tarmac wheel, intrested as we were we soon realised stepping into the wheel was a bad choice, once you were in you couldn't stop. If you did you would be forced to fall in,probably, the most uncomfortable manner you could imaging.Neal, Siobhan, Ewan and l decided to give the maze a shot after the “Hamster Wheel of Death.” The maze itself is the worlds largest maze and built in the shape of the Valais Canton and made from over 18,000 thujas and 6,524 metres of hedges It wasn't long before we reached an “obstacle”, though this one was merely a chain bridge which, in Neal and l's case, we had conquered way back in Primary. There were the more advanced obstacles, including glicing over what looks like swamp-water on a very wobbly suspended stool, only to realise there was no point in going across. Upon entry we were given there leaflets with 10 monuments for“A LA RECHERCHE DES MONUMENTS “(find the monuments) and the aim was to go around the maze and stamp the leaflet at each monument to prove you were there, you could actually win something if you got them all, unfortunatley we only got as far as the pyramids of Giza. An indirect attraction within the maze was a grimey tunnel which would be possible for a human to fit through, as proved by Lillie, Dave, Ethan, Christina and Caroline by squating and walking sumo-esque along the pracitcally pitchblack tube, but only if you were desperate to know where it led. Most of us realised that a grimy tunnel can't possibly lead to anywhere appealing.
When we reached the end of the maze it was difficult to dodge those pesky kids as the exit was even closer to the “designated” water zone. It was time to investigate the other attractions of Labyrinthe. First up was the gladiator pummel sticks where you were on a raised stool and had to pummel the living-daylights out of your apponent. One of the most intense battles was between Andrew and Nicky, the featherweights of the trip though they fought like it was for the world title. This was a popular game for the pupils of Stromness Academy and there was one of us on the podeums all the time until we had to go, shows the nature of us lot anyway...Next to the ladder of balance which proved that none of us have balance as nobody got near the top before the ladder swung you round and you enevitably fell off. Of course there was the huge slide, which we heard tales of terrible friction burns because of bare skin rubbing against to skaulding metal, to be fair we were warned before hand to cover the legs if we want to go but it was like 30 degrees out! Thankfully sacks were provided so you could slide down friction free no matter what trouser length. Unfortunately the most exciting looking corkscrew slide was cordened off we couldn't try it but we could still make it to the hightest one. Going down the slide itself was thrilling but coming out the other end was even more life threatening as you were propelled towards the sandpit with various sharp,metal, mechanical diggers, ocasionally including children. Going on the slide one at a time was just a bit to dull so Manson and l started a trend of going down in groups. When Gideon and company appeared at the other end they flew of the end into the wooden fence and of course, broke it so the teachers skuttled us all off elsewhere before anyone noticed it was us. We all had about fifteen minutes left to explore the rest of the park, for those sill galavanting inside the maze this could be a problem, and the last place we went to there was the most dangerous, ito me anyway, attraction of all; the spinning disc. This was a disc that not only spun but moved according to the wait of those on board. It was all fine until you fell which guarenteed a graze or worse that would then end up covered in rather dirty sand ready to infect. In my case l ended up with a bloody and pussy graze on my elbow. Fantastic. Turned out though that l was not nearly the worst off as Briony had fallen somewhere in the maze and had the huge cut on her knee and was so deep that is was expected that she is going to need stictches. While at the park we noticed a “Parks of Hamilton” bus roll up and in poured students from another scottish school, it was weird that the majority of people at the park's nationality was Scottish although we were in Switzerland. Other attractions of Labyrinthe was a room full of the usual amusement park table top games;air hockey, pool and a rodeo pole? This was basically just a motorised saddle attatched to a pole that moved franticallyforwards and backwards like a buncking bronco though not nearly as conventional. There was also a cordened off ares full of odd shaped bikes and go-kart-esque vehicles which proved all to competative to Andrew as he raced a(very young) French boy.
As we left Mr Harnden announced on the tanoy that we had to detour to take Briony to hospital, watching her and Mr Harden walk off was considered incredibly hilarious, especially because of all people who is careless enough to end up in hospital on a school trip, it has to be Briony. Back at the hotel we were all ordered to pack which was terribly upsetting as it was hard to believe it was over. Barely anyone actually got and packing done as we were determined to have a good time on our last day.
This began with the usual gathering of table tennis enthusiasts which grew into everyone on the trip, even the teachers. When we saw the Parks of Hamilton coach pull up along next to Susie there was great excitement as Scotland's take over of South-east Switzerland continued. They all seemed to be running riot thena few headed this way, us being friendly folks we greeted them and found out they were also on school trip and it was booked through the same company and they showed us that they were all meant to be doing a treasure hunt, which was found at the back of the activity book!
The two girls that l was speaking to saw the so called “slutty girls” and some guy called Johnny (who Emma had met before which was really weird and Erland fought against one the other guys from the school in Karate and about 2 weeks after we had got home l was to see one of the “Slutty girls” at T in the Park...wierd huh?) were heading our way. They fitted in well with our group being a new species of girl with collogen lips and stuctured cheek-bones. We spoke to a few of them for a while but then soon got back to our frisbee, beach balls and table tennis. Though they stayed around a bit until one of there teachers was sent up, in advance we warned them and they all hid under the table tennis table and we just shrugged our shoulders and sent the teacher back. Though they were found out and we said, in french terms,” Adieu,” well or so l thought it would be.
During the pandamoneum Briony reappeared from her trip to the hospital flapping about her X-ray shots of her knee. She was slightly slower and switched off, even more than usual and we soon found out that the laughing gas was still wearing off. Turned out she had to get stitches so natuarlly for Briony, laughter was the best medicine.
Once we were all sent to our rooms there was no way we were going to settle down quickly, most of us had to pack and after that we still wanted to livin' it up. Starting off with a reminiscent mood of sitting on our balcony gazing across the alpine scene with a clear nights sky above. It was still far too early to do anything risky as the teachers had experience of the last night of the swiss trip so they adopted the idea of sitting on the patio facing the front of the hotel to check for any doors opening. For once we were glad to have a balcony on the side of the building because we could at least sneak out and keep look out. Unfortunately we had to go through another room to get to the “main” blacony's. Every so often you could hear Mr Lawson's voice echoing down the valley in the tune of “Get back in side, Now!”
Briony, Lillie and l began to to give up on hope of any fun so we went back and got into bed and slept, for a while... I woke up to see a bright light at our double doors to the balcony and lillie darted up and opened the door. It was Craig Morgan delivering the news that some people were down on the boys floor on the balcony with duvets and a bottle of vodka. Sounded cool, but for Briony and l our beds were just too much better. Lillie went off and what happened on the balcony, stays on the balcony, we presume.
Thursday 26th June
The next morning Lillie had managed to get back safely and involuntaraly got up after Ms Sinclair had banged on the door for the fifth time in fifteen minutes. Though this was the same for everbody. Everyone on the trip knew this was going to be the worst day of the whole trip, it was the day we left Switzerland and this time we weren't going to come rolling back on Susie to Les Mosses. Instead we had a journey through France to reach Calais to get the boat back to the U.K. That morning l realised l was missing a vital part of me, my ipod. In a state of panic l ran outside to look for it, bearing in mind it is about 7am or 6 even. I then remembered being pushed off the wall into the long grass by a certain Spy kids look-a-like. Thankfully it had not been raining though it was really dewy and my safety cover on my ipod saved it's life as it was still in perfect working order, even the headphones. Only when l got back to the door and realised it was locked did l start to worry. Thankfully Nicky appeared at the balcony and looked down at me with a mixture of a confused look and pity as l told him that I had locked myself out and if he could let me in.
Breakfast that morning was a sad affair, everyone knew this was the last time we would all be in the dining room together in our zombie-like states. When it came to making that packed lunched everyone doubled their rations of the hot bread and Hopp bars. and we handed in our room keys.Our bags were packed and we all had to gather outside and put our suitcases in the bottom of the bus and say goodbye to them until Inverness the next evening. The sky that morning was something unseen during our holiday, well at least not since we were in Scotland anyway! The overcast appearance of the sky seemed to simbolise everybody's feeling that morning, the thought that we finally had to leave behind this beautiful country and our fantastic memories was something, that throughout the ten days we had realised, none of us wanted to face. The gray clouds looked like they were going to open the floodgates but they managed to keep us dry in Les Mosses [that sentence was totally symbolic by the way!]. Once everyone had thoroughly checked their rooms and everyone was out and took our last minute holiday shots in Switzerland we had time to take our final group photo, as soon a it was announced there was an influx of cameras thrown in the teachers direction. We had to sit there squinting into the white sky for about twenty minutes while they went through about 38 cameras.The time had finally arrived when we had to leave La Sapiniere and Les Mosses for the last time. As Susie drove away for the last time; past the church and down the long winding roads, and bypassing Monteaux and the glorious Lake Geneva. The journey, geographically speaking was relatively the same as the way there with the exception of no Belgium this time. We were seldom as excited as we were on the way there as there was the constant cloud over our heads [what's with the weather metaphors] that we were heading home. When in France we stopped off at many service stations. There was one where the toilets were the main attraction as they had fantastic design features such as the 'Dyson' made hand dryers and the large photos of flowers on the walls. There was the drama of getting a wasp out of the bus but we were soon on the road again. There was another service station in France where there was a plentiful shop with such things and individually wrapped crepes and coke bottles that had a free cup style thing though it cost much more than a usual bottle of coke. There was also a €1 vending machine that gave out various pieces of tat but one machine gave me a rubix cube and l got about five power-balls out of one. This was all a last minute plea to get rid of annoying change that was going to be useless in a few hours. Many people followed suit with the powerball idea, though where we could actually use them was quite restricted, so we went to the car park. Unfortunately this ended up in (near) tears and many of the balls ended up bouncing across the road into the field opposite.Of course there was the French village that was memorable, for all the wrong reasons. Graham hyped it up so much saying it was a cultural treat, and no sarcasm was hinted in his voice at this point. However when we got there, there was no siesta it was just the sleepiest village we had ever seen. It seemed as if it was a set for a world war two film as nobody real actually lived there and had evolved from the 1940's. The only place was open was a glass shop and factory (which you couldn't enter), where to buy anything would have just been unpractical for the journey, and tourist information and a patisserie which I never actually found. We all scurried around trying to find something but we were restricted on where we could go. A few of us wandered up the hill and along a street but we were scared off back to the bus by a great barking dog. Back at the bus we all enjoyed the home comfort of Irn-Bru courtesy of the onboard fridge before we all decided we should “get the motor runnin'!”We watched France pass by and change from day to night and we were in Nordpas-de-Calais and the port of Calais was fast approaching. As soon as we crossed the English Channel the reality of going home was becoming real. Graham and Sirlan were also leaving us in London and we were getting new drivers, this was not very popular, especially that they were leaving at 3am. In Calais our boat was delayed so we had to wait around on the bus. A few of us went to the toilet and we were told not to go alone as Calais was an “odd” place, l went outside to enjoy the last few moments outdoors before another all-night bus journey. Back on the bus we managed to convince Graham to take his guitar out. He tuned up and began singing classics such as “Handbags and Gladrags”, which will forever remind me of that moment on the bus with the sun setting and the bus lit up like a stage as we all sat around listening and singing along and cameras were a'flashin'. Then there was “Take me home country roads”, which everyone knew the words to, especially the “Na na na na-na” parts in particular. Although we were bellowing out “Bonnie, bonnie banks o' loch lomand.” Deep down we would rather be on the low road. I think that all of us who were there at the time can agree that looking back that moment seems surreal.Soon passport control were satisfied and there was even rumours the police were coming on to check lD's, but our excursion to Europe was executed without the interruption of random lD checks. On the car deck we spotted another tour bus full of school kids, we will come back to them later. We boarded Sea France and were greeted by the usual hustle and bustle that is tourism. We rapidly explored the decks and even went outside but it was rather cold and windy so that plan was just as quickly aborted. The majority of us had tea, which consisted of Lasagne for me since I missed out on the authentic Italian version; l also had my last thirst quenching Nestea. The next vital stop was the duty free shop, which was divided into a Continental European, English and Perfume section. The English section was quickly bypassed, as it seemed to just contain mini red buses and dairy milks. The European section was more appetising with Toblerones and giant Kinder Eggs. However the perfume section, naturally, seemed the most appealing. Before you got near it the polluting fumes of DKNY and Calvin Klein already choked you. The time onboard passed reasonably quick and soon we had to re-group. This was done in a very tight corridor between the canteen area and the stairs down to the car deck. We were crammed up against the wall, as we had to allow others past, becoming more and more cramped as the numbers grew from ten to fifty. To make matters more uncomfortable another school group of teenagers, who seemed younger than us, were walking past and made sly comments. So Hope retaliated. And soon we all joined in, shouting “Chav-esc” comments in their direction. Soon Mr Lawson's ears switched on and he told the other kids to “get a move on” We headed back onboard Susie and Lillie, Caroline & Co. presented Graham with Gertrude so he could remember us for years to come. As we drove off the boat there was rain pouring from the sky and hit and trailed down the glass of the window and we realised we were closer to home than we would have preferred. The drive was non-eventful, except we finally got to watch “Signs,” it was as if it was Graham's leaving present to us as he had finally given in to our charms! At the end we were falling asleep, there was no new intriguing landscape passing us by and no excitement about where were going to keep our adrenaline going. We fell asleep and only a few got to see Graham and SirIan leave, and Briony never got to show Graham her real eyes behind the dark shield that was her sunglasses.Friday 27th JuneWe woke up to the bright lights of a new, overcast, scene of an English petrol station and the voice of our new drivers insert names. This was not what we wanted to wake up too. We trudged in for breakfast, which was quite sufficient but the UHT milk was nothing compared to the warm bread and fresh butter of Le Sapineire! It seems it wasn't just us pupils who has woken up on the wrong side as Mr Lawson threw a memorable tantrum over his cooked breakfast over something piffly like eggs. A lot of impulse purchases happened at this stop, for me mainly, because it was loitered with those vending machines I loved so much in France, this time though they defiantly made a profit for themselves as for £2, I got a blow up fish and some tattoo's. However the tattoos became a little onboard amusement as Briony's turned out to look, surprisingly, realistic so we had the (short-lived) running joke that Briony had got a tattoo in France. There was also a WHSmith selling travel board games and camping equipment, the first I bought spontaneously and the later I considered for practicality as I needed a tent for T in the Park and this one was a £5. Stupidly I got the board game, which we never even played, as it was so god darn fiddly. On our way to Inverness I made several concluding calculations and began noting down the main events of the whole trip, which inevitably I deleted by accident later on. In Inverness we ran straight to the shops, mainly topshop/topman and tesco, and spend money as if we were trying to get rid of our pounds as if it was the last chance to get rid of foreign change. Rachel, Lilith, Christina and I had a plan to make ourselves Switzerland T shirts so we had to scour the shops for a plain white t-shirt and a permanent marker, for such basic products they were surprisingly hard to find. We had to get off Susie and we were put on a different coach, an old one, Susie's Grandmother. It was similar to the one they took to Switzerland two years ago, POOR PEOPLE! This one had those horrible school bus-esc seats and only one screen at the very front so all of us at the back were straining our eyes when they put on Get Over It, as you can tell we were far too accustomed to luxury by now. We sat watching the film and passed the usual sights of Sutherland and Caithness which we were far too used to and the reality of home sunk deeper, especially when we got to Thurso and could see Orkney's faint outline. The wait at the boat was probably the worst point. I don't think anybody looked cheerful, we were not quite within reach of our home comforts and we were far away, literally, from Les Mosses and the colourful memories seemed to be from a world away from the grey world of Scrabster. On the boat we went to the same spot we sat at on the outward journey. We got out T-shirts out and started scrawling “Switz 08” and Team-insert teachers name- before touring the ship getting people to write on memorable slogans and their name. Once we got everyone we ended up having fun with the permanent markers by covering each other in our Switz Persona's quotes and innuendo's. Leaving each other and going home seemed to happen too fast, I hoped that we would all go to some “After-Switz Party” and the fun would keep going. Unfortunately I no option but to return home to a fridge full of ready made Pizza's and tubbed ice ream and no sunshine to wash it down with.Saturday 28th JuneThis was the most depressing day EVER!ConclusionThe geography trip to Switzerland was a large factor in my choice to take Geography in Standard Grade, the stories from my sister and all the photos along the geography corridor, which would have our faces on in a few years. The day we got the forms saying we were accepted into the trip was one of the best days of my school career. The initial excitement I had on that day was only a smidgen felt during the trip.There were certain things on the trip that just happened everyday that made it so memorable like waking up to Percy Sledge's “When a man loves a woman” and opening the doors to our balcony and singing along with it so the whole valley could know we were awake. You could say, “the hills are alive with the sound of [our] music!” [LOL]. Then getting the knock on the door from Mrs Cooper or Franny telling us to “Quiet down/Wake up!” and when I got in the shower first and used up all the hot water, according to Briony. Down at breakfast and being greeted by the Portuguese woman who served our meals (the huge brick of lasagne, the square chips, the chicken burger with a single slice of cheese were a few favourites) and how she would say goodnight to us everynight from her window before attempting to sleep above our racket, I regret never learning her name, in the words of Caroline, “She was such a doll!” The general banter we had on the bus and how Graham managed to keep us amused when we failed to keep ourselves amused. The constant sniggering whenever Mr Lawson fell asleep with his mouth wide open. An the various films we watched (“I am Legend”, “Transformers”, “The Island”, “Disturbia”...) most famously how we were just so not in the mood for “Juno”, all we wanted was to be scared shitless by “Signs,” even if it was only a cert.12. It's even strange how you now seem to link certain songs with Switzerland, ones that weren't the obvious choices but ones that you must have just fallen asleep to while trying to sleep on the bus.I hope that I am never going to forget the image of being in Montreux as the sun set on Lake Geneva when we were all sitting on the steps next to Freddie M, or the feeling in my stomach of looking down below on Aigullie du Midi, the smell of the Callier chocolate or the cold sensation on your tongue when you pretty much just licked the Mer de Glace. Of course I will not forget the annoying shock of having a snowball thrown at you in the middle of June.









HELP GUYS I DELETED MY NOTES ON ALL OF THE SWISS HAPPENINGS! SO NOW MY MEMORY (ALMOST) FAILS ME SO PLEASE COMMENT WITH ALL THE THINGS WE GOT UP TO. I WILL ADD MORE ASAP!!!!!! Eg can anyone remember when we watched, Transformers, The island, Disturbia, l am legend... and for tea the chicken with Cheese, lasagne, the square chips, spagetti/pasta stuff, anything else??l CRAVE DETAlLS!

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