The trip started on 2 July with an early morning flight from Heathrow to Zurich. After some quick introductions, Team GB embarked on a tour of Zurich. The quirky city impressed us with its mix of historical and new and its mountain backdrop. We were especially impressed with the abundance of drinking fountains around and we certainly needed the cool down, as the tour took place in over 33 degree sunshine!
Later, after a trip in our own first class train carriage, we arrived in Lucerne, my personal favourite city of the visit. Team GB and some infiltrators from the Netherlands escaped the rest of the party for a quick dip in the lake, before hurrying back to the hotel to change for our welcome reception and buffet dinner at the Art Deco Hotel Montana. It was an enjoyable evening where all the teams (GB, North America, Russia, France, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Belgium and Germany) were able to relax and get to know each other, as well as enjoy dinner and bubbly. The best part was the breathtaking views, as the hotel is set into the cliff, overlooking the lake and mountains beyond. (Luckily there is also a lift in the cliff to take you up there too.)
On day two, the teams took on Lucerne, exploring the city while answering questions on the sites we saw. It was a pleasant way to get to know the area, and the added challenge of a pedalo race on the lake against all the other teams increased the competitive atmosphere (team GB came third – not thanks to the German team trying to tug our boat backwards).
Later in the morning, we all boarded a boat to Alpnachstad, enjoying the mountain scenery as we headed towards Mount Pilatus. Upon disembarking, the teams travelled by cogwheel to the top of the mountain, celebrating with a refreshing iced tea, 2132m above sea level. We travelled part way down the mountain for a BBQ lunch, before facing each other in activities including tightrope walking, bugel blowing and mountain goat toppling (not as easy as it sounds). We then travelled down the mountain by cable car to prepare for a dinner in the Lucerne Museum of Transport.
The museum was definitely a novel place to eat dinner, surrounded by planes, cars and train carriages from years before. The first day results were announced over dinner, and Team GB found ourselves in a healthy third place (and certainly held the loudest celebrations).
The third day of the trip saw us leaving Lucerne, and travelling to Bern by car (the quickest team members managed to get a spot in the convertibles). Enroute to Bern, we stopped off at Emmental (well-known for cheese) and enjoyed a fondue lunch at the Emmental Visitor Dairy. We also took part in a giant cheese rolling competition (which Team GB failed spectacularly at the first time round, but was able to wrangle a second go).
When enough cheese was had by all, we headed on to Bern, and explored the city by scooter on a few more final challenges, including chocolate tasting (what a struggle).
Team GB were impressed by our hotel later that night, the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern, and enjoyed a visit to the hotel spa before getting ready for the final evening’s dinner at the Schwellenmaetteli on the river.
We had a champagne reception and barbecue dinner before the winner was announced – sadly not Team GB. Instead we toasted a Russian victory, and enjoyed a party going on late into the night.