Friday 26th July
23 very excited boys and 12, equally excited staff, departed from the church, with driver David, at 9.30am, at the start of what was to be a 29-hour journey to Adelboden, Switzerland.
We stopped at services at Charnock Richard and South Mimms on the way to picking up Bill and Beks, our drivers for the week, before arriving at Folkestone.
Delays on the M25 and then security delays at Dover caused us to miss the ferry we were booked on and resulted in us sitting at the port for four hours before embarking on the 1.00am ferry for Calais. Disembarking the ferry at 4.00am (French time), we reached Basle (the French, German, Swiss border) at 1.20pm. Those of us who have been on previous trips could start to recognise landmarks and town names; the road starts to get narrower and windier (and higher!), our ears start popping and the excitement starts growing . . . we’re nearly there.
At 3.45pm, we finally arrive . . . and the heavens opened! Rain like we have never seen before and the first exercise will be to try and get everything dried! We are met by Georgie, our Adventure Abroad rep. At 6.00pm, we are all se ttled in and the dinner is on (spaghetti Bolognese) and by 10.30pm the boys’ rooms are all quiet and the staff are heading for bed.
Sunday 28th July
(First full day in Switzerland) – by 9.00am we are all up and the duty squad are organising breakfast and making the sandwiches for lunch. The weather is dreich and puts paid to the planned morning trip to the outdoor swimming pool in Adelboden. However, at 12.30pm we donned our waterproofs, walked down to the base of the town and jumped on the cable car to take us up into the centre. A classic car parade is on today and we eat our sandwiches whilst watching all the old cars go by; some of the owners are as entertaining as their cars!
Following that we went for a game of 10-pin bowling (and watched the Chinese curling team as they trained on the nearby ice rink) before hiking back up the hill to the chalet by 4.30pm. The rain hasn’t stopped all day. Dinner is chicken stir fry and Georgie eats with us again. We have supper at 8.45pm in the form of a delicious lemon drizzle, bought in the local bakery, for Sam Welsh’s birthday (happy birthday Sam!) and tomorrow’s duty squad start making the lunches and chopping potatoes in preparation for their duty day.
Monday 29th July
It’s an early start! Duty squad report at 6.30am, breakfast is at 7.00am and we leave the chalet at 8.00am. There are some tired faces this morning! The town is visible this morning, so it looks a bit more promising weather-wise, but waterproofs are packed just in case. We’ve also packed our swimming gear and shoes along with our trousers for the mountain tubing later – it’s a complicated day for packing rucksacks! First destination is Oeschininsee, a mountain lake 4km from Kandersteg, for the traditional dip and photo. At a height of 1578m, it is 150m higher than the top of Ben Nevis and to say it is cold is an understatement!
By 11.00am, our photo in the lake is done, we are all dried off and the boys are buying ice-creams (the staff are looking for coffee or hot chocolate!!). We have time for a turn on the dry toboggans before getting the cable cars back down to the bus. The sun has come out and the sunglasses are on! Our next destination is a dry ski slope for mountain tubing – essentially, coming down the ski slope in a rubber ring at speeds of up to 90km/h, wow! We are joined on the slopes by an 18-year old ski jumper and we watch in amazement and awe as he jumps towards us (and sometimes over us as we wait our tubing turn) as we sit at the bottom of the slope. Back to the chalet and at 6.15pm, the duty squad are preparing dinner (fish fingers, potato wedges and beans) and by 10pm it is dark and we are all inside.
Tuesday 30th July
A bit of a longer lie sees today’s duty squad up and at it at 8.15am and everyone else preparing for breakfast; it’s a beautiful morning and the mountain behind us is totally visible for the first time since we arrived. By 9.30am, we are on the bus on the way to Spiez where we will get the boat across the lake to Interlakken; it’s a glorious day and hats and sunlotion are required! Ice creams are the order of the day whilst we wait for the boat and after a beautiful sail on the bright blue water, we arrive in Interlakken around 1.45pm.
We meet up at 4.30pm after an afternoon of shopping and are met by the minibuses and then the cable car to take us up the mountain before we get our giant scooters to ride back down again. Some beautiful scenery to be seen as we scream down the mountain and special mention must go to Scott Hemple, Reece Main and Lewis Robertson who overcome various issues to complete the course, well done boys! By 8.30pm, we are back in the chalet and the duty squad have burgers and chips ready by 9.30pm and everyone heads for bed at 11.00pm.
Wednesday 31st July
It’s a big day. We are heading for the Jungfrau (‘the top of Europe’) which means another early start. We are on the bus at 7.55am on a day which hasn’t started too promising weather-wise, but we cross all our fingers in the hope that it clears up. We are booked on the 9.25 train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg and then on the 10.30 train from Kleine Scheidegg, through the Eiger mountain, to the top of the Jungfrau. On both trains, a carriage is reserved for 1st Viewpark, but we can’t see a thing through the clouds. However, the train stops for 5 minutes at the Eismeer (Ice Sea) viewing point and our sunglasses are required because of the brightness of the sun above the clouds – what a sight!
We reach the Jungfraujoch, 3,454m above sea level, the highest railway station in Europe and the reason for it being nicknamed as The Top of Europe. As we emerge out of the darkness and bitter temperature of the station, we need our sunglasses and our boots but not our jackets – we are in the snow, but the sunshine is glorious! What a sight it is – absolutely worth the journey!
After a group photo, we split up. We have time for two activities and four options – to go sledging/tobogganing, to go up to the viewing point at the peak, to visit the Ice Palace carved out from the glacier or to visit the shops – not an easy decision! This, for most of us, has been the highlight of the week and it is with a bit of reluctance that we make our way back to the train to start the journey back down again. We stop off at the supermarket at Interlakken before heading back to the chalet.
Dinner (chilli) is at 6.30pm and that is followed by a band practise for tomorrow’s national day parade. (Our band this year comprises two pipes (Dean and Ewan), snare drum (Kiera), tenor drum (Heather) and bass drum (Stuart) and rehearsal goes well.) We all go to bed tired, but exhilarated – what a fabulous day!
Thursday 1st August
It’s Swiss National Day. We have a long lie (yay!!) and it’s a free day. Some of us stayed around the chalet, some went shopping in the town, some went to the outdoor pool. It’s a beautiful day and sun tan lotion is once again required.
Dinner (burgers and chips) is early before we leave the chalet, in our uniforms, and parade down to the bus. The bus takes us into town and drops us in the square where the band plays and the boys toast marshmallows around the fire and hand out caramel wafers and teacakes donated by Tunnocks.
After performances by a local brass band, a group of traditional dancers, a yodelling quartet and a trio of Alp horn players and an address by a local politician, we join the parade through the town, proving an attraction to the locals and visitors alike.
When we return to the square, we enjoy the fireworks display before heading back up to the chalet. By 11.40pm, we have all arrived back in the chalet, we are enjoying hot chocolate and tomorrow’s lunches are made.
Friday 2nd August
After an early breakfast, we depart for the adventure park at 8.20. It’s raining, but by the time we reach the park, the sun has come out. The park is a series of zip lines back and forward across a valley, culminating in the longest (and highest) which is 320m long. This is followed by a ropes course (at altitude) and then two different jumps from the road bridge across the valley. The first is a controlled jump, much like abseiling without the wall/cliff to bounce off. The second is a pendulum swing, a bungee jump but without elasticated rope. Most of us have stopped before we get to the pendulum swing, but nine boys along with our intrepid captain complete the pendulum swing.
After lunch, we split up and one group head back to the chalet, one group go back via the shop and a third group head for the town.
Dinner tonight is lasagne and Georgie is presented with her honorary 1st Viewpark polo shirt, hoodie and waterproof. The evening is spent packing as much as possible in preparation for our departure tomorrow.
Saturday 3rd August
All too soon, it’s our last day! A long lie was promised but by 8.00am, the staff are all up. It’s worth it though; it’s the first morning we’ve been able to have our tea/coffee whilst surveying the sun on the mountain. By 11.30am, everything is packed and the cleaning has started. (1st Viewpark always leave their accommodation cleaner than they found it.) We have lunch outside and board our bus at 2.25pm after the traditional officer photo.
It’s a quiet bus; there’s a sense of reflection and regret that the trip is coming to an end. We arrive at Dunkirk at 2.20am and are booked on the 4.00am ferry to Dover. Our progress through passport control is held up somewhat when we are instructed to empty the bus and all boys and staff are required to go through security with their luggage from the hold of the bus! The ferry leaves at 4.20am and at 5.25am (British time) we are back on the bus in Dover. Beks and Bill leave us (they have been fabulous) and we pick up Jim, our new driver who will take us home. We stop at Corley Services and then Tebay services and a cheer goes up throughout the bus as we pass the border back into Scotland before we arrive back at the church at 4.30pm.
A fabulous trip once again and we are already looking forward to Switzerland 2021!!