Last week I was more than 650 miles from home visiting schools in Switzerland. It took me a lot longer to get there...
I was up early on Monday morning putting my bags into the car and then driving down the motorway to Manchester airport so I could catch the morning flight to Geneva. It was a wet and windy Manchester morning as I boarded the Easy Jet flight.
Once in the air, the plane soared above the clouds and into bright sunshine at a height of over 37,000 feet. From up there the world looks very different.
The flight only takes about an hour and a half so there was just time for a cup of coffee and a little read of my book before were we flying over Lake Geneva and touching down in Switzerland where the sun was shining brightly and it was very warm.
From there I collected my suitcase, made my way down to the railway station and caught a train to Aigle, a small town at the far end of Lake Geneva. The railway line runs along the side of the lake and it seems strange being on a train for so long (an hour and twenty minutes) and still having the lake by the side of you... but then the Lake Geneva is about 45 miles in length.
I arrived in Aigle sometime after 5pm where I was met by Marco, a mini bus driver from the school that I would be visiting the next day. Marco drove me up into the mountains to the village of Villars-sur-Ollon and dropped me off at the hotel where I would be spending the night.
You never know what to expect when visiting a hotel, but the Alpe Fleurie Hotel was perfect and my room was excellent - I could happily have stayed there all week. It was comfortable and cozy and I even had a balcony... what more could you want?
The hotel would be a perfect place to stay for a skiing holiday but there was no snow around last week (except on the highest mountains). After unpacking my case I went for a little wander around the town and picked up a pizza for tea... Delicious!
The next morning I was up early, took this picture of the view from my window and went downstairs for breakfast (fresh, crusty bread, Swiss cheese, salami, ham, coffee and fresh orange Yum!) At eight o'clock I was picked up from the hotel and driven up to La-Garenne International Bilingual School for an early start.
It was fantastic meeting everyone at school and I was made to feel extremely welcome by all of the children and teachers... The school itself looks very different to schools here in the UK as you can see from this picture of a couple of the school buildings...
The views from the classrooms were beautiful too. It's hard to imagine how anyone gets any work done.
The school day flew by even though its a much longer day than we have here and, after a great time sharing stories and talking about writing, I was soon waiting for a bus to take me back down the mountain to Aigle. I was on the bus by five o'clock and winding my way down the narrow road. Forty-five minutes later I was on the train to Nyon, then an hour or so later was jumping into a taxi for a short ride to my next hotel. It was just after 7 o'clock in the evening when I finally flopped onto my bed - Phew! it had been a long day but lots of fun.
Another early start on Wednesday with a coffee and a croissant for breakfast before being picked up and taken to see the wonderful infants at College Champittet in Nyon. The school is only open in the morning so I had the afternoon free.
There wasn't much to see by the hotel I was staying in but one of the teachers kindly drove me up the mountain to look at the amazing view... and it was well worth the trip. This picture was taken from high up on the mountain where you might normally get a good view of Lake Geneva, however, the lake and the surrounding towns and villages were overcast with clouds. After driving up through the clouds though there was a fantastic view. It looked as if a sea of clouds had covered the lake with only the Alps towering above on the other side of the lake. There was even a good view of Mont Blanc covered in snow.
Up early again on Thursday and another taxi ride into Nyon to meet the head of English from College Champittet, Pully-Lausanne. There, we caught the train to Lausanne and headed down the hill to the College where I spend the day with years 5, 6, and 8. Another fun and busy day.
After school it was time to head back up the hill... much steeper than it had seemed on the way down as I was dragging my heavy suitcase behind me. I caught a final train back to Geneva airport then a few hours waiting around for my flight home. I arrived home at about 11 in the evening, exhausted after all the travelling but thrilled to have been able to spend the week in Switzerland.
It was fantastic meeting everyone and all of the the children and teachers were enthusiastic and friendly. I was really made to feel at welcome and was very well looked after. A big thank you to everyone that I met and special thanks to everyone that took such good care of me. I can't wait to come again.
Au revoir for now...