On Saturday 22nd August a group of 12 members of Girlguiding Gloucestershire departed for a fantastic week in Switzerland.
After a flight from London to Zurich we traversed Switzerland by train, arriving in the pretty town of Interlaken. We spent 3 nights in the Youth Hostel, with beautiful views of the mountains, river and trains, and explored the local area.
The following morning we ventured up the mountain – taking 3 different trains to reach the top of the Jungfraujoch – the highest railway station in Europe, at 3571 metres. We managed to see the view for a few minutes, before the clouds came down, and then the icy hail/snow fell, stinging our faces, with a temperature of -1degrees. Forced inside we explored the sculptures in the Ice cave, and the tunnels through the mountain before returning back down to Interlaken.
That evening we met up with the Interlaken Scout group and had dinner with them in their Scout Hut. They were so welcoming, providing us with a fantastic Raclette dinner followed by games outside, laughter and swopping of gifts. The older adults amongst us were stunned to find that the Swiss Scout Association starts training the scouts as leaders from the age of 12, with leaders only being allowed to volunteer until they turn 25.
The following day was shared between a trip to the Grand Cafe Schuh and a visit to the Trummelbachfalle. The Head Chef/Chocolatier in the Grand Cafe Schuh showed us how the chocolates were made by hand, before we sampled them and spent our money on gifts to take home. We then took a train and a bus to visit the Trummelbach waterfalls. The falls collect the glacial water from the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, where it flows in cave systems inside the mountain, at 20,000 litres per second – a deafening and amazing spectacle.
We finished Monday by taking the cable car up the opposite mountain towards Murren – a first experience for some of the group – but not one everyone enjoyed!
On Tuesday we left Interlaken and took more trains and buses across to Adelboden, to spend the following 4 nights at our World Centre ‘Our Chalet’. On the way we called in to see Mr Trummer the woodcarver, and purchased our trefoil badges and ate lemon cake in the sunshine. We found the outside toilet with the best view across the valley, taking turns to stand on tiptoe in the toilet and take photos through the heart shaped window!
During the next few days we experienced the beautiful surroundings, exhausting hills and Guiding friendship that make Our Chalet the special place it is. We stayed in the Spycher House, with all the girls in the attic, with beds in rows like the 8 Dwarfs! We shared meals and activities with the International staff, groups from America, Canada, and Wales, and had a fantastic time. Our onsite day included a welcome flag ceremony, where we all received our pewter ‘Our Chalet’ pins, campfire cooking, orienteering, recycling awareness and getting to know our surroundings. The International night saw us dressed up in our winter and wet weather gear, reciting a poem about the rainy British weather – much appreciated by the American group!
We visited the Rehari adventure park, where we traversed the river 12 times each, attached to a zip wire, and watched some of the girls jump off a bridge over the river, attached to the pendulum swing – which Mirren decided to do in the most unusual upside down position (heart in mouth time for the leaders!). This was followed by climbing up the rock face, before huffing and puffing back up the very long and steep hill to Our Chalet.
Fritz came up from the village with his Alpine horn to help us celebrate ‘Swiss night’. He played it beautifully and we all joined in singing songs including Amazing Grace and the Bernese Oberland anthem of ‘Vogellisi’ before competing in a quiz about ‘all things Swiss’, and winning the prize of Chocolate Fondue.
Our last day at Our Chalet found us taking the Funicular railway to the top of the Niesen Mountain, at 2336m. We climbed right to the top and ate ice cream whilst admiring the view. We then took the steamer boat across Lake Thun, to visit the beautiful fairytale castle at Oberhofen. The sun was hot, the sky was blue, and more ice cream followed!
That evening we hiked in the twilight to visit the Bonder waterfalls. We were joined by the Canadian Ranger group, and listening to the girls chatting, swapping stories and experiences whilst walking in the dark was fantastic. This was followed by a badge swopping session – and lots more chatting.
Saturday saw us waving goodbye to Our Chalet and walking down the hill to the bus stop, where one bus and 2 trains took us back to the airport to fly home. Just before boarding the bus we were delighted to see the farmers bringing the cows down off the mountains, walking the herd along the main roads, with their cow bells clanging loudly. The girls chatted together like they had known each other for a lifetime, and we were all sad to say goodbye when we reached home.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us with the fundraising / donations for this trip. We had an amazing time and experienced Guiding at its best – and it couldn’t have been better.
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