On a quick note beforehand, I've have added some Sara Bareilles songs to my music player as I've been listening to them quite a lot - gotta love them :). Now, I've decided to type up all my Switzerland stuff before I do any other kind of blogging... I kept a written diary whilst away in Switzerland - something I think I should do next year at New Wine as then I could actually remember stuff to put up here.
Warning - this contains some rather boring descriptions of card games and dinner and the like.
Anyway, here is a huge blog about my trip to Switzerland - if you feel the need to skip the majority of this love then there are a couple of mini summary things at the bottom :).
Day 1 - 10/08/08
Well, we left at 6.30 am (woke up 5.45 am) to go to the airport. Flew off around 8.30 am. I love flying :), I love it when you take off and you have all the funny feelings in your stomach, at looking out the window (though I didn't have the window seat) down at all the little buildings. And I also love landing - same sort of thing. The flying in between isn't as fun but I don't mind it. Anyway, arrived at Geneva airport around 11.30 (Swiss time). Hopped on a train from the airport to Brig - took about 3 hours; then got off at Brig, bought some drinks, hovered a bit and fionally took the next train to Münster (said like 'Minster') which took about an hour. We were met by two lovely ladies, one who spoke English (she was Canadian) and the other who only spoke German. They drove us a couple of minutes to the apartment we were to stay in and explained where everything was and how certain things worked, then left us to it.
Really lovely apartment actualy, the accessories are very orange. I rather like it. Lovely furniture and accessories methinks. I love the taps in this apartment! They're the sort that make the water kind of foam over your hands. I always love those sort of taps. I ended up making dinner (the lovely Swiss lady bought us some groceries which we paid her for because the shops don't open on Sundays). So I did mince (with random stuff we had around - a tiny punnet of tomato ketchup, a beef oxo cube, some water and some chopped up tomato chunks), spaghetti and sliced tomato and cucumber. Was quite good after having no other proper meals in the day...
Also, we had some bread and butter. I forgot how much I love bread and butter :) *contented sigh*.
Yes, so enjoying myself so far. Have read today 'My Sister Jodie' by Jacqueline Wilson and 'You can get arrested for that' by Rich Smith. Also read chapters 1-6 of Ezekiel :). All in all a tiring but reasonably happy day.
Day 2 - 11/08/08
Woke up about 9.15 am Swiss time, which is about 8.15 am English time. Had a shower, didn't eat any breakfast as I didn't really fancy bread today. Sat around a while. Rushed off to put on a touch of make up when the parents suggested going out - just a tad of concealer and powder and a dash of blush to make me look a little less like a member of the undead. Headed off to the coop ('co-op' - supermarket) - took quite a long while as it was right on the outskirts of Münster, plus we didn't quite know where we were going. Got there, wandered around a while, bought a bunch of groceries and headed back. Found a much quicker way back as we now kind of knew where we were going. On the way back we realised we'd forgotten to buy garbage bags (you have to ask at the counter for individual ones - you can't just use any old plastic bags), also we bought some postcards on the way back. Arrived back. Discovered we'd lost the rice somewhere (probably left it at the coop). Accepted the fact. Each made our own lunch (I had spinach and ricotta tortellini and 2 bits of dad's pizza *grins*).
We hung around for a while as it was a bit too hot to be outside. During this time I discovered the games in a glass cupboard - jenga (which I avoided), UNO (special 'Cars' film version -which I took out), a couple of packs of playing cards and a couple of card games (or the like) with instructions in German (which I avoided - for obvious reasons). I spent most of my time around noon til 2 alternating between reading and trying to convince mum and dad to play UNO (I managed 3 games with mum and 2 with dad - though we were sitting outside and a couple of times I had to chase cards when the wind blew them).
Then dad went out back to the coop to get rice and to post my postcard while mum and I went off on a lovely walk down the hill, through the fields, across a white-water river (across the bridge actually, but you know what I mean) and up a hill where we met some cows. The cow bells are actually really loud, they sound quite nice though - a bit like wind chimes. Took some photos and videos. Kept singing 'The hills are alive' (obvious why) and 'So this is love' (from Disney's 'Cinderella' - not sure why). I don't think the cows were particularly impressed. Wandered back on my own taking more videos and picturees - mum rushed back for the loo. I wasn't too happy when it started to rain on the way back, I was praying all the way as I rushed that it wouldn't pour down until I was back inside and thankfully my prayers were answered (with 'Ok' not 'No, you shall be drenched').
So after that I continued my reading and finished my book ('Tennis Shoes' by Noel Streatfeild - great book). Then went back to nagging for entertainment (managed a game of UNO with mum and a game of 500 with dad). Ended up making dinner again (spaghetti, meat patties, tomatoes and cucumber - next time I'll be more interesting). Made mum and dad coffees and managed to secure a couple of games of UNO and a game of 500 with all of us (I'm beginning to get addicted to card games...). UNO went quick (I won both games *grin*) and then dad and I tried to teach mum how to play 500 - very entertaining. 'twas great fun, mum and me were laughing so much I could barely breathe and I got a really flushed face, lol. Our game took quite a long time and no one managed to win so we're to continue it tomorrow.
Have made a deal with the parents - we play card games after dinner in return for me making dinner - I'm quite happy with the arrangement. Hopefully we'll get some broccolli and carrots tomorrow so I can do them with cheese sauce :). Anyway, going now. Need to write Dan's postcard :). Then get some sleep. Oh yes! Happy Wedding Anniversary to Carol and Sparkle! - hope they're having a lovely time away.
Day 3 - 12/08/08
We were planning to go to Eggishorn today (mountain - by cable car) but we woke up early and saw that it was foggy/cloudy up in the mountains so decided to sleep in. I got up around half 9, had breakfast (coco pop type things with banana slices) and lay on the couch doing my logic puzzles. Eventually mum and dad got up and after lolling about a bit they decided to go into the village in search of an internet cafe and also just to wander around a bit. I opted to stay home but gave dad my postcard for Dan to post. While they were out I properly got up and dressed and started playing cards. I reminded myself of how to play speen, won 4 games against myself (though the point of the game is lost a bit with 1 player - your speed doesn't really matter - it's kind of like playing an odd version of solitare), then I tried to remember how to play clock, couldn't remember so I played a game of matching (I took out the '2' to '6' cards for space reasons) then a game of solitare (it took me a while to realise I hadn't put the 2-6s back in - makes it a bit difficult to play. Then went back to speed, upon which mum and dad arrived back (post office was shut so no postcard posting). We all had some lunch (Chicken, wild rice, beans) - during the making of this I convinced mum to play a game of speed with me - great fun. Then after dinner dad and I started a game of speed (I taught him - he was a bit slow at grasping some aspects but he wasn't too bad at it). Halfway through we realised it was 2.05 and we had meant to leave at 2.00 to go to Fiesch so we rushed around, left at 2.15 and got the 2.27 train (which was what we had been aiming for - we just wanted to be early).
Arrived in Fiesch about half an hour later and came across an open post office at the station, so I figured we could post the postcard then but when dad got it out of his bag I was a bit annoyed - it had water splotches on it which made bits illegible - I wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't his fault and rain had got through his bag but the reason was actually that he had shoved a wet umbrella in his bag with my postcard. Grr. Lack of sense and foresight. Anyway, decided not to post it then (was going to buy a new postcard back in Münster). So we wandered around - following signs for Eggishorn (Fiesch is where the cable car goes from), we thought we might as well see if it was clearer up there as we could still go. Found the place and sat outside while dad asked at the desk - they had a webcam at the top which was showing cloudy white - clearly not a great time to go up - the lady suggested Wed or Thurs as potentially better days. So we looked around the shops a bit, I bought Dan a Swiss shot glass (I seem to always choose shot glasses for his souveniers...), then we went to the coop there to grab some stuff for dinner. Went back to the train station (I've now remembered/been reminded of my GCSE lessons and that the German word for train station is 'Bahnhof') and headed back to the apartment.
Played a couple of games of UNO, mum taught me a card game she used to play when she was young and also reminded me of how to play clock. Dad and I finished our game of speen (I won - dad worgot some of the rules - fair enough as he'd only learned them that day). Then I did dinner - sliced frankfurters in omelette with left over wild rive, broccoli and carrots with a perfect (if I may say so myself) cheese sauce. Lovely. Decided to just send Dan's blotchy postcard anyway as it would be a while before I could get another one and it probs wouldn't arrive before I got back. So just wrote over the illegible bits. Hopefully Dan will be able to read it...
Day 4 - 13/08/08
Long day... Left (in a rush) at areound 8.20, caught the half past train to Oberwald, saw a really cute baby with it's parents on the train. Managed to get a few smiles and giggles. I love babies :). Got off at Oberwald, realised it was actually the right train to go all the way to Goschenen - got back on. Travelled through tunnels and wigglely mountain tracks. Felt a bit sick by the time we got to Goschenen but it wasn't too terrible. Posted Dan's postcard at the station post office. Got on the Zürich train and got off at Brunnen.
Wandered around a bit. Bought our own copy of UNO from a coop (they're everywhere! - basically the Swiss version of Tesco), looked at a few souveneir shops; went down to the dock where we wanted to get on a boat to Luzern. Checked the time. Went to get ice creams (which I successfully asked for in German, well, mum's and mine - zwei mittel vanille - and an English interruption from Dad for his), looked at another souveneir shop. Went around the other side of the ticket building and sat on benches looking at a different but just as gorgeous view of the mountains and water. I started singing songs from 'Enchanted' - got a few odd looks. If only life was a musical - then instead of odd looks I'd get a backing group singing in time, in the right language, with a suitable dance routine.
Yes, anywho, eventually went and got on the boat. We were on the boat for about 2 hours - was really lovely at the beginning as it was really peaceful and had absolutely beautiful views but about 3 stops from the end it got really crowded and I got to the point when I wanted to strangle one particular repetitive, whining Swiss boy. I don't mind young children, in fact I love little babies (who make cute noises but can't talk) but this boy was too old to be cute enough to get away with it and so was just annoying. Got off in a bit of a miffed mood. We then had a bit of a 'debate' and confused while about which way to go back. I bought more crisps (I'd already eaten quite a bit of junk food while feeling crappy, annoyed and grumpy). Got off at Giswill. Waited around, let mum and dad ask questions about where to go etc. Got on another train to Interlacken Ost. Got off there. Got on a double decker train to Brig. Played UNO on the train (but I only took out half the cards so it turned out we accidentally only had yellow and red cards). Got off at Brig, got on a train to Goschenen (which stopped at Münster on the way ). The train had a technical fault when pulling us up a hill so we had a jerky stop and a few 'roll and brake' moments thereafter. Lots of people sticking their heads out windows. Eventually got moving again. Stuck my head out windows on each side during the rest of the journey - first on the inner side (lots of stone walls close enough to break your arm if you stuck it out, and occasional ditches, trees and cows), second half of the journey on the outer side (more mountains, valleys, roads, rushing rivers and the like). Was rather lovely. I felt a bit like a dog-camel mix. Dog obv. why, Camel because I had to either keep blinking or squint my eyes so that they didn't get dust in them.
Finally arrived back at the apartment. I'm really tired of travelling after today - we travelled about 10 hours today (including the boat ride). Cooked dinner - Beef mince and spaghetti (we have a lot of spaghetti), we also had left over veg/rice and I had a tomato for veg). Played card games for a little biut. Then Star Trek distracted dad too much and we were a bit tired anyway so I buggered off to get changed, brush my teeth and write this :).
Happy Birthday Fahima! - Just thought I'd add that. Oh, just remembered, results day is tomorrow... Carol's texting me my results tomorrow morning. Eek!
Reading log - some Jeeves and Wooster, also last couple of days I've read more of Ezekiel.
Oh another thing about today, mum and dad keep laughing at immature things (which makes me laugh, despite the immaturity of the matter) - off sounding German names for things - such as 'Kaiserstuhl' (it's a place name) and 'Dampffahrten' (we've found this means steam train).
On a slightly mature note, I've found I pick up numbers when spoken in German - at the train station, in general conversation, on TV etc. It's kind of cool.
Day 5 - 14/08/08 - RESULTS DAY!
Well, I got my results this morning. I set my alarm for 7.10 (English time - my phone is still on this). Woke up, turned off my alarm. Glanced down and didn't see any '1 new message' thing pop up so went off to have a shower. Wandered around a bit, looked at my phone, hoped Carol had remembered, noticed I had an envelope pic in the corner and so went to check my messages. Found she had texted me at exactly 7.10 and this was why no message had popped up...
Yes, got an A in Art - which I was expecting and hoping for (worked hard for that grade... and I already knew the first half of my years work was marked as 'A'). I got a B in Maths, I'm fairly happy with this, had been hoping for, but not expecting, an A. [Since results day I have found that my last two grades that pulled my grade down to B were a D and E - whoops! Might have to retake at least one of those]. I got a B in History which I am extremely happy about as my first 4 modules were a consecutive A, B, C, D, and I wasn't too confident about my last 2 modules. But very happy as I wasn't going to retake any history modules no matter what I got because History is one thing it's very hard to study for without lessons. And lastly I got an A in Psychology! I know I got an A last year but I really was pleasantly surprised with my A this year... The grades I already knew were C, A, A, B, B so I was expecting a B overall, I must have done really well in my last paper! [I did - I got 118 out of 120! - in a bit of shock]. So I was quite cheerful this morning, though I don't think it'll really sink in til I see it for myself. The best thing is that with an A in psychology I don't need to be quite so pressured for an A in art next year as I only need ABB for one of my first choices for Uni.
Anyway, passing over results now, was a very tiring day today. We went to Eggishorn, left to get the train about 11.15 , got to Fiesch and then up the cable car around noon - was very crowded in the cable car. Got off where the first cable car stopped (2222 metres up). Decided to wander around a bit before going right up to Eggishorn. Stopped for a brunch sort of thing, we all had soup (as this seemed to be one of the few things the waitress could say in English) - mum and dad had minestrone, I had tomato. It was probably the most vile soup I've ever had. There was a dollop of cream on the top which was ok with the soup and we had one slice of bread each but the bread was so thick a slice that I couldn't soak it properly in the soup and the soup was sooo salty it made me feel rather queasy. Ended up leaving most of it and having a mini cheese baguette instead. Mum and dad quite liked their soup - but mum tried some of mine and agreed it was gross.
So after that we went off to the next cable car - again stuffed to brim with people and headed up to the peak of Eggishorn (29 thousand and something metres). Stayed up for about 2 and a half hours taking photos and just enjoying the atmosphere. Rather amazing view of mountains and glaciers - was a bit cloudy but even so it was magnificent. A whole bunch of army guys (camoflague outfits - part of the Swiss army I think) came up the mountain around 2 - I guess climbing the mountain was a training exercise... Yes, anyway, took a couple of photos of them. Dad and I made out own cairns (pile of rocks - very exciting). I later spent time throwing smaller rocks at dads from a distance to try and knock it over (I succeeded in knocking off the smallest rock). Mum took lots of pictures of alpine flowers. I bought a couple of postcards. And then we headed down again.
We stopped at the 2222 m place, bought a magnet ('Heidi country') and went back to the same restaurant for some proper lunch (I forgave them for the soup) - had spag bol, fairly nice. Had a very lovely hot chocolate. And finally went right back down to Fiesch. Went to the coop to buy groceries - milk, bread, stuff to bring for packed lunches tomorrow. And then trekked back to the station, waited half and hour and then got our train back to Münster. I cooked some meat patties again and we had it with left over spaghetti.
Played around with making hot chocolate with hot frothed up milk and actual chocolates. Played a couple of card games. Now I'd better go sort out some stuff for lunch tomorrow - we're doing a long trip tomorrow to Bern (Swiss capital). No idea where it is but apparently we get to go to an art museum - that makes me fairly happy. Hopefully I'll find something relating to my current art project. Also, I might make some banana fritters or pancakes as the bananas got rather squashed in mums bag...
A couple of other things I noted down at the end - the train people seem to always ask 'where do you go' rather than 'where are you going' - I suppose it's probably a more direct translation.
Other things mum and dad laughed out - 'Extrafahrt' (on a bus), 'Freie Fahrt' (on a poster). Really. They're supposed to be adults. Nevermind.
Oh yes, we also saw some goats for the first time in Switzerland! We saw them out the window of the train between Münster and Reckingen. Reminded me of 'high on a hill was a lonely goatherd'.
Lol, before I recalled the 'was' I kept singing 'high on a hill with a lonely goatherd'. Kinky.
Day 6 - 15/08/08
That's one thing I don't miss about the city - smokers. We went to Bern today. It's basically just like a slightly less populated London - but in German (with possibly crappier shops - I don't know, haven't really been to London much. There were also some cool shops though). It took 2 hours on 2 trains (1 hour on each) to get there, left the house about 7.15 (meant to leave an hour before but we were really tired). We went to the Kunstmuseum ('art museum') which was rather cool, it wasn't so big that it got too tiring and it had quite a good mix of art styles. I particularly liked some paintings downstairs which were oil paints on the back of glass (painted on one side - displayed with the other side forward), they were really good. Bought a couple of postcards of some paintings, had hot drinks at the cafe bit and then we headed out. Went around the city a bit, mum posted her postcard, we went to grab some hamburgers and fries from McDonalds (we had proper sandwiches and stuff with us which we ate throughout the day) and went to see the hyped up clock tower - mum said that it was supposed to be have a really interesting display every 4 minutes to the hour. There were loads of people standing around waiting to see it and in the end it was just a few figurines moving for about 5 seconds, stopping for about 2 minutes and then a couple of other figurines moving for about 5 seconds. Blink a few times and you'd miss it. Bit of a disappointment. Wandered past some shops - I bought part of Carol's b-day prezzie in one, not very Swiss but kind of cute. Walked around some more, went and sat in a lovely church for a bit, and finally headed back to the station - I in particular was rather exhausted at this point with a throbbing headache. Another 2 hours to get home. Mum cooked some sausages and I did more spaghetti (to finish it off). Watched some amusing TVC in German. Played cards.
On other notes, I really want to read/watch 'Heidi' again, I think I used to have a video tape with it on but I don't know if I have it anymore [I don't think I do - have looked for it now. Looked it up on the internet, the one I used to watch was the 1993 version]. Finished Carol's Jeeves and Wooster book today, not bad.
Day 7 - 16/08/08
Decided to have a bit more of a lazy day today, didn't set my alarm, got up around half ten, ate breakfast, showered, played cards, went to the coop, made some rosti (unhealthy, oily potato bits - kind of like hash brown bits) for lunch and eventually around half 4 went on a walk towards Reckingen with mum. I agreed to go beacuse I thought she meant we would walk down the path by the gliders' air strip - would be a rather nice, flat walk; but I soon found out she wanted to walk in the same direction but on the bush/hill trail behind the air strip. Well, to say the least I didn't find it that great, I twisted my ankle, had a huge (abour 2 inch long) grasshopper/locust get stuck in the bottom (ankle bit) of jeans, I got shocked by an electric fence which I didn't know was an electric fence until I accidentally brushed by it and abruptly found out. I slipped over on my bum twice whilst attempting to walk down a hill (in my rather unsuitable non-grip shoes) - the second time I fell I ended up just sitting there for quite a while feeling pretty crappy. Met up with dad on the way back (he came out for a walk too - a bit later than us). On the way back I had to climb under an electric fence because dad told me there was no way through it even though I was sure there was one bit you could go through - after I climbed under it dad realised I was right and he and mum unclipped it and walked through. Grr.
Finally arrived back with an achy back, sore arms and shoulder (from falling over), a twisted ankle, and a very odd feeling right arm (I was shocked on that arm - near my wrist). Well, new experiences and all that . I can now say I have indeed been shocked by an electric fence. Not sure why I'd want to say it but there you go. It doesn't hugely hurt, it's mainly the shock of it at the time (no pun intended) and afterward it makes the shocked area feel weird, partly numb and achy.
Yes, anyway, played more cards, packed most of my stuff into my bag and made dinner (very healthy - fish fingers, spring rolls and bread). Helped mum wrap some sandwiches and stuff for bringing tomorrow. Watched Asterix and Obelix in America - in German. Still rather amusing despite not understanding the language. And now I'll get some sleep. Am rather tired. Home tomorrow...
Last day - 17/08/08
Woke up 9-ish, had a shower, tidied and packed, left around half 10. Straight on the train from Münster to Brig (taking a short video of the goats on the way). Straight from Brig to Geneva airport. Arrived with about 4 hours to burn before checking luggage in. Wandered around looked at stuff/shops, eventually decided to go to Geneva to see the world's highest fountain. Dropped bags in baggage area for train (10 francs per bag to hold for however long up until 8 pm). Hopped on a treain to Geneva. Walked down to the park, looked across the water to see the fountain (kind of cool but not that exciting - basically just the world's highest manmade geyser. Sat on the stone ledge for quite a while just enjoying the atmosphere (kind of like Wellington, except everyone's speaking french), got ice creams (important stuff), sat around some more got kebabs for dinner. Lay on the grass. Walked back up to the station, once back at the airport I used up some extra internet cafe time dad had (got very confused with the keyboard - the z and y swapped place! and the other bits moved about - question mark, apostrophe etc. - couldn't figure out for the life of me how to type and @ sign) - I checked my e-mails (v. happy Fahima got the results she wanted and thus got into the Uni of her choice - whoo!). Checked my own results (the details) was rather shocked at the PYA5 result - 118/120! I really didn't expect that. Maths are fairly crap both - not sure if I want to redo one next year. I did get a B overall...
Anyway, went back to pick up our bags up, then checked them through for the flight, boarded the plane finally at around 8.45 - 9pm. Waited. Found out there were problems with the hydrolics system. To make a long story short, we left a couple of hours after we were meant to, in a different plane to the first one we got on. Something I can say is that the situation was handled very well. And I liked the pilot's voice, it was reassuring and nice-sounding. I got the window seat this time. Flying at night is so different to flying during the day. Had beautiful views of Geneva and London lit up with orange glows (street lamps I assume). Wonderful. Just got back home - after midnight. Need sleep. Will type all this tuff up tomorrow. Night night...
[Yes, the reason I didn't type it up the next day was because I had a problem with my right wrist (I think I badly damaged it falling down on the hill after electric shocking it), it was really painful whenever doing anything small such as picking up a heavy-ish bag, turning a key or a tap and stuff like that. Hurt sharply for a couple of days, then I prayed for it and the next morning it didn't hurt. So still occasional achiness but not really a problem anymore.]
Switzerland summary (countryside) - Outstanding natural beauty. Hills. Ear popping. Flies. Cows. Cow Bells. Lovely.
My trip summary: Beautiful scenery. Card games. German-speaking people. Cows. Electric fence. FLYING :).