Switzerland is the land of clocks, and the land where everything runs on time. We (B, Lin, DT, Jay and Spalding) were heading over for Antje's 30th and had been lucky enough to have most things prearranged. Lin had worked out the train tickets for us to get to the airport in London, and from Zurich to Bern, Antje had worked out all the accommodation for us, splitting us up between various family members, and online checkin was done… all in all - things were set far too smoothly for me not to have found a way to make life more difficult.
Originally I was meant to have had the day off but a training session was called at work, so I made my way in to leave early to head to the airport with the others… after stopping off to buy Antje a birthday card I headed to the Playboy Mansion to meet the others…. As we all gathered in the door way and DT asked if everyone had passports packed I realized that I didn't… thanking my lucky stars I ran back home (to looks of shock and 'she didn't really leave it at home did she…') to pick it up, and ran to the bus to head in with the others… the next delay came at the train station where I realized that I hadn't bought the reservation number with me and had to line up in the massive queue to go through the window.
We made it to the airport just on time after stressing about whether or not we were on the fast or slow train and if we were going to make it to the correct terminal on time… thankfully for some reason fate was on our side… (or on my side rather after the number of minor mishaps on the way!!). Of course I got caught up in security thanks to the heavy buckled boots I was wearing (to be fair they were really cheap so I was surprise that the buckles were really metal…) but somehow still made it on board. The flight was pretty much standard and over not long after it started… we made it to Switzerland (everyone still not sure how I'd made it on the plane…) with relatively little hassle, and headed towards the shuttle to take us from the main terminal to the train station… at which point I dropped my train tickets. Thankfully by this stage I'd been declared a walking disaster zone so everyone was on the look out around me…
The hour long train ride was filled with snacks and 'roadies' to get us into the festive spirit for meeting Antje on our arrival in Bern. It had been snowing fairly heavily so was freezing by the time we got in. Ants, Nina and Doris were there to meet us at the train station in Bern and to shepherd us into warmly heated cars to get us to our first stop - Matt and Lucy's place where J and Spalding would be staying… we witnessed our first part of the Swiss hospitality as the chips and drinks were plied onto us and into us… a few hours later, Lin, DT and I headed to Ants parent's place where we promptly fell asleep once settled in our rooms.
Early the next morning we all met up for brunch and decided on where we were going to go in our explorations of Bern. B decided to stay at Ants place and help with the preparations of the party, while the rest of us (having not been to Bern before) went with explorations. Wandering through the cobbled streets of Bern it was like being transported to another world. We headed over to the 'new bear pit' which was really more a plantation on the side of a hill that meets with the river rather than a pit. I think it was a bit too cold for the bears, cause we couldn't see them, but it was still a nice walk through the snow, and through some parts of town we may not have otherwise seen. We headed over for lunch in a bistro that Ants had recommended that served local fare, and were pleasantly surprised with the food which hit the mark. I had a really rich pilze rosti - which is essentially a massive potato pancake covered with mushroom gravy. After stuffing ourselves silly it was time to head back to start getting ready… if only DT, Lin and I could remember the name of the street or the house number… that's right folks - not one of us had looked at the house as we left that morning, and although it turned out we got REALLY close, we had to call to make it the final little way to the house… lol. So we got ready and headed over to the cottage in the woods…
Ants 30th was in this amazing place which was set back into the woods. It was a single room wooden cottage which she'd set up fondue pots around one side of. I say pots but it was really more like cauldrons over open fires. It was brilliant, and made the trip out into the cold totally worthwhile. At this stage B and I decided to go into a drinking competition, but with some rules to ensure that we made it through the night, such as only one drink per half hour for the first 3 hours… I think we almost managed to stick to it too… needless to say B won, or rather bowed out graciously when I got to the border of no return… thankfully that was about time that we all got to tuck into fondue so I was soon happy as Larry.
Now fondue in Switzerland was quite unlike fondue I've ever had anywhere else. So there were about 60 people for a start and 2 massive pots - one with wine flavoured and one with beer flavoured fondue, and they both had these massive wooden spoons that had to stir the pots to ensure that the cheese didn't burn at the bottom. Everyone got their own little metal skewer and a half cresent of bread (which had small squares marked over it to help you break off the right amount) to dip into the fondue. It was one of the most fun and messy ways of eating that I've been involved in… it was awesome and if you can you should totally try it. From there followed speeches (mainly in Swiss German but I'm told they were lovely) and some good old fashioned dancing. As people slowly started to drift home, the London crew began the clean up, getting the place ready for the morning inspection. After an early start it was time to head home at around 1am. Lin, DT and I then proceeded to giggle our way through to 3am reminiscing about the various things we'd managed to do inadvertently do through out the night… Without naming names… One was called R Kelly (as in - I heard about you - you were arrested just like R Kelly!), one caused a jealous partner to storm off, one caused offence with a beanie (or was that just said to make them paranoid??), and some were said only to have come to drink all the alcohol (but seriously, it's a long way to fly for a drink!).
Lunch the next day was somewhat subdued as we all struggled through our hangovers. Thankfully the yummy array of food eased us out of it, as we ate more and more to bring us back to life. All too soon we had to pack up and then we were off to Ants for one last movie session before it was time to get the train back to Zurich and then into the plane for the flight home. I thought that my unlucky streak had ended by the time we managed to get the train and bus back through London, but through my hazy state I managed to get off the bus three stops early with the others, and trundled back the last little leg of the journey back home to bed. I say unlucky, but to be fair it was really more just being caught out with my vagueness… lol