Sunday, October 24, 2010


Ok, so I last left you at the end of the Jamboree.  Of course, at the end of it all, camp does have to close sometime.  The kids go home, and the staff pack things up and do the same.  But what about those of us who are awfully far from home?  Well, we have our ways.  It turned out that the Swiss Contingent had driven over to the Jamboree.  So we asked one of the guys, Sam, if we could tag along.  The official answer was maybe.  He said he’d ask the others in his car, and they would work out who was leaving when.  On the day after closing, we finally got a proper answer.  It was probably about 20h00, and we were enjoying the evening, being finished with dismantling for the day.  Most of Outdoor had come down easily, with only the major posts for the ropes course left, and Antarctica was in a similar boat, with only their large tents to take down.  We were standing up on the road talking, looking down into camp, when Sam came up to us, with an awfully disappointed look on his face.  We assumed the worst, of course.  And thus we were pleasantly surprised when Sam asked us if it was ok for us to leave with Valentine that night.  The reasoning was that it was better to have three people in one car and four in the other (one of the girls, Selina, had left a few days before) than to have 2 in one and five in the other.  So after a long day of taking things apart, and an awfully quick packing-up, we ended up on an overnight drive to Switzerland.  And we ended the drive in Winterthur, about an hour (by train) from Zürich.

This is Winterthur, and the view is pretty similar to what we saw from the Scout House.  Photo © Stadt Winterthur

In Winterthur, we stayed in a scout house.  Now, unlike home, it seems that Swiss scouts have figured it out; they have spaces available to rent out to other groups, set up almost hostel-style, though the booking process is different, and there are no staff on hand.  The plan had originally been to either camp at the site beside the scout hall, or possibly ask if we could camp in the backyard.  Instead, we ended up staying inside, as the group occupying the hall had some extra space.  It worked out well for us, as it meant not having to put up a tent, as well as availability of showers and somewhere with light to sort out the fast-as pack job from the night before.  Having sorted out somewhere to sleep, we wandered into Winterthur itself, and proceeded to see… a lot of it, in a few hours.  We even found the swimming pool (for once, within walking distance of town!) and so, after going back to grab things, we went for our first swim in I don’t even know how long.  Never mind that swimming laps was pathetic and exhausting, it felt good to go for a swim anyways.  We spent the night with the group at the scout house.  They even fed us dinner and breakfast (my life pretty much revolves around the kindness of strangers lately, it seems) and were sent off away when we asked if there was anything we could do to help them clean and pack up.  So we wandered off, having a couple hours to kill before meeting up with Sam by a nifty wooden sculpture of a giant in town (that we both entirely neglected to take pictures of).  We ended up grabbing wireless and weak tea, and then heading off to our meetup.

Speaking of wireless...  (or, not really) This is a Swiss keyboard.  Ten points (and maybe a postcard?) to the first person who can tell me what's wrong with it.  Gonzo, you don't get to say.

When we met up with Sam, it was pretty obvious that he hadn’t been home for long before coming to meet us.  Granted, he had driven (with a couple others) through the night, so it’s forgiveable.  After a couple of hours hanging out and talking scouty stuff, we headed off to Nesslau, where Selina still lives with her and Sam’s parents.  And dang, was the road to Nesslau pretty.  All winding and twisting and turning around hills and through valleys and basically a welcome change from two weeks of topographically-challenged Holland.

This is Switzerland.  It has mountains.  Mountains are good

We spent the next day and a half in semi-rural Switzerland.  We had “proper” swiss food (a process of eating called raclette by which there’s a grill with space underneath, and basically every person gets a frying-pan like dish in which to melt cheese, and then pours said cheese over potatoes and whatever else happens to be on the plate.  Grilling things before cheesing them is optional.) which involved cheese with bacon in it (bacon makes just about everything taste better) and had some time watching schwingen, the Swiss national sport, which involves special leather shorts.  And throwing one’s opponent on his back by holding on to his shorts.  It was actually a lot of fun to watch, and something we’d never have even considered if we had gone to Switzerland by ourselves.

This is Schwingen.  The shorts are provided.  Photo ©R McCoy because I forgot to take any.

So, until next time!  It gets interesting then.  And involves A LOT of trains.  I'm still trying to figure out how to break up the train-to-train-to-train travels, for the sake of posting.


  1. Keyboard: Z and Y are interchanged compared to the typical NA keyboard. What do I win? :)

  2. Oh weird, I was going to say that compared to French keyboards all the letters seem to be in place... except Z and Y and then the square brackets, colon, semicolong and quotes keys are vowels with accents.