Monday, November 17, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 9

Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 


With our time in Switzerland at an end, we loaded our luggage on the bus and headed to Italy.  By this time, we could load and unload the bus fairly quickly since we had done it several times and we had all claimed our space on the bus.  We arrived in Pisa several hours later. 

When the bus stopped we found a small train waiting for us.  It was going to drive us closer to the Leaning Tower.  It was really bumpy but we all had a lot of fun riding it.  When we arrived we saw many horse-drawn carriages and souvenir vendors.  Of course, we had to take pictures of us holding up the leaning tower.  We only had a couple hours in the city so we ate lunch and shopped while we were there.

Back on the bus, for another hour or so, we drove to Florence.  We arrived at the restaurant a little early, so we sat and waited.  This was my favorite dinner of the entire trip.  I must have gone back for food at least three times.  They had all-you-can-eat pasta, fruit and chicken served buffet style.

After dinner, we walked along the river and Sabrina told us a little about Florence.


Reaching the hotel we were happily surprised to discover it had air conditioning.  We hadn’t used air conditioning since arriving in Europe.  It was a cool break J


Sabrina & the train



 Alyssa & tower


Our group in Pisa 





All the girls in Florence on the river

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 8

Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 

For our second full day in Switzerland we were advised to dress in long pants and layers in anticipation of a cool day.  We said goodbye to the staff at Our Chalet and hiked down the road with our luggage.  Luckily, everyone had rolling luggage.  We rode in our charter bus for two hours to the base of Mount Pilatus, near Lucerne. 

Once we were at Mount Pilatus we rode halfway up the mountain in a four-person gondola.  It was really cool to see all of the cows as well as the beautiful scenery.

When we reached the first platform we saw a ropes course, zip line and a toboggan track.  We had fun sledding down the toboggan track!  It was really weird being pulled all to the top while facing backwards.

We went up the rest of the mountain in a 40-person gondola that was really fast but jerky at times.  We ate lunch and took lots of pictures of the summit.

We rode the cogwheel railway down the mountain.    Mount Pilatus has the steepest cogwheel railway in the world.  The train keeps you sitting upright instead of at an angle as you descend or ascend the mountain.  It took us to Lake Lucerne, where we boarded a ferry.  It took about an hour to cross the lake and it started to warm up while we were on the ferry.

After the ferry ride, Sabrina took us on a walking tour of Lucerne.  We went to several different churches, walked across the Chapel Bridge and saw the Lion Monument.

At this time of year they have festival called “Blue Balls Festival.”  Popular and local singers perform outdoor concerts near the river.  There were also many food tents, artisans and street performers.  We also went souvenir shopping.

Later on we went to dinner at a Swiss folk restaurant.  They performed traditional Swiss music while we ate cheese fondue.  Some of the girls learned how to play the instruments and perform the dances.  It was crazy fun!   By the end of the night we were all dancing with the performers.

Photos:
Diego & Shannon, from North Carolina on their sleds

Swiss Folk dinner

 Chapel Bridge


My family at Lion Monument





Friday, October 24, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 7


Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 


Our first day at Our Chalet we dressed in our uniforms.  Then it came to the point where 10 teenage girls had to share two mirrors.  Once we finally ready we made our way outside to take part in the flag ceremony.

During the ceremony we learned the names of all the staff and where they were from.  We met girls from Italy, Germany, and California.   Sadly our friends from Canada had left early in the morning to continue their trip. We had a pinning ceremony where we received the official Our Chalet pin. 

We had two choices for the morning program.  You could learn traditional Swiss paper cutting or Swiss fire building.  I chose to learn how to build a fire.  Two of the staff members showed us how to cut and place the wood.  They also announced we would be racing in teams of three.  The first team to burn through their sting and drop the rock would win.

It was different from how we would normally build a fire since we had to use a knife to cut all of the kindling and tinder out of logs.  But there was another twist:  you only got one match.  The only way to get another match was to sing a Girl Scout camp fire song to the judges.

After a lot of singing and cutting of wood, my team which consisted of Diego, Shannon and I had a fire going.  After adding more wood to fuel the fire our string burned and the rock fell to the ground.  We won!  All three teams were eventually successful in building a fire.

After a filling lunch of Swiss barbecue, we hiked down the mountain towards the town of Adelboden and then back up the mountain to the wood carver’s shop.  It took about an hour and a half to get there but it was well worth it.  The views were amazing and the wood carvings were very intricate.

We ate yummy lemon pound cake and had a cool drink on the outdoor patio.  When we finished we called for a taxi to take us back to Our Chalet.  Let me tell you it is scary driving on a Swiss mountain.  The road is very narrow; it is only wide enough for one auto.  Thankfully our driver was very skilled.  Some of our group decided to walk back and went to explore the gorge we had passed on the way to the wood carver’s shop.

After dinner we started our Swiss Folk night.  We played Switzerland Jeopardy in order to win a secret prize.  What we didn’t know was that our surprise was chocolate fondue.  It was delicious!




Our group at Our Chalet    


Alyssa with Haley & Teresa of GS USA in Germany & Italy


Shannon, Alyssa, & Diego with Paloma of Our Chalet


Pinning ceremony at Our Chalet




 Exchanged SWAPS with Patricia from GS USA in Germany



Candace, Marisol, and Alyssa on the steps at Our Chalet




Hiking to the Wood Carver’s shop

Monday, October 20, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 6


Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 


After staying up late to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, I was happy to know I’d have some time to nap later on the bus.  After everyone loaded their luggage we took off on our 10 hour bus ride from Paris to Our Chalet.

After a few hours we stopped at a really cool bus stop.   It had a bike that would charge your electronics while you peddled.  There was also a TV lounge for kids.  After the bus departed again, we went through border patrol and stopped for lunch in Switzerland.

A few hours later we made it to Our Chalet.  The road to Our Chalet was narrow and a bit scary but a few hours later we arrived up just fine.  When we arrived we met the staff who would drive our luggage up the rest of the mountain while we hiked up to the chalet.  It had been raining off and on most of day, so the road was slippery.

When we got to the chalet the staff showed us to our rooms.  The rooms were a little different this time – all the girls stayed in the attic together.  We hadn't really had a chance to talk as a group so it was really cool to get to know them.

For dinner we had pizza from a local pizzeria then met some girls from Canada and played cards with them in the game room.  They told us they had been here for the past 10 days doing an adventure challenge. The girls from NC and I said goodnight to our new friends and went to bed. 

Photos:
Hiking up the trail to Our Chalet


Alyssa and Candace  



At the Charging station with Shannon from NC


Monday, October 13, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Day 5



Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 

Day two in Paris began with a trip to the Louvre.  There are nearly 35,000 objects on display in this world renowned museum.  We saw many famous paintings and statues including the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Napoleon’s apartments.


We then took a tour of the Paris Opera House.  This is the Opera House that “Phantom of the Opera” is based on.  It was really cool to see the elaborate details of this building.  There was a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling and we got to see Box #5, the Phantom’s box.


After eating lunch we went on a Seine River cruise.   Some of the landmarks we sailed past were the lock bridge and Notre Dame Cathedral, which we toured later that day.  We had Flammkuchen, a very thin pizza for dinner at Flams, in the Latin Quarter.  The group split up after dinner.  We rode the Metro to a section called  Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur.


While walking around Montmartre we saw artists and souvenir shops.  The Basilica was very beautiful inside.  The view of Paris from the steps of the Basilica at sunset was amazing. We had a lot of fun in this part of the city.  We danced on the cobbled stone streets to the music from a live roving band.

When we returned to the hotel the group gathered on the top floor of our hotel.  We were to see the Eiffel Tower’s lights twinkle at 11 pm.  Some of the members of our group didn’t know that the tower had these lights, so it was a nice surprise.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 4

Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 


Our first morning in Paris we went on a sightseeing tour bus, which allowed us to stop at several places for pictures and ended our tour at the Eiffel Tower.  After taking some pictures, half of the group went to tour Versailles.  Our group from San Antonio stayed to make the climb to the top!
At the Eiffel Tower you can take the elevator to the 3rd platform or climb 700 stairs to the second level platform.  Diego and I raced up the first 350 stairs.  We soon realized that was a really bad idea.  We were so tired when we made it to the first platform but it was worth it.  The view of the city was absolutely amazing.
We decided to continue up next 350 stairs to the second viewing deck.  By this time our legs were feeling the burn. But that didn't stop us from continuing or taking pictures when we got there.  Let’s just say there were a lot of selfies taken.
After the Eiffel Tower our group roamed the streets of Paris and found a little sidewalk cafe for lunch.  We ordered pizza and crepes.  The crepes were filled with Nutella, sprinkled with powdered sugar and were delicious. 
We also met some fellow Americans, a group of girls from New Jersey.
We did our own walking tour as we waited for the other members of our group to meet us for dinner at a restaurant called Hippopotamus.  We saw fountains, sculptures, churches and famous landmarks.
At dinner we were ate chicken and rice with a mushroom sauce with green beans.  For dessert we had eclairs.  YUM!





Then the group walked along the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.  We noticed many theatres, cafes and luxury shops along the way.  A large French flag was flying in the middle of the Arc. We walked along the underground tunnel to reach the Arc’s center.   Since this was the last stop of the day, we rode the metro back to our hotel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Alyssa's European Adventures: Part 3



Alyssa spent two weeks touring England, France, Switzerland and Italy, visiting  World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts World Centres and famous landmarks she had only seen in history books.  Alyssa worked for two years selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make her dream come true.  She shares her journey with us here: 

On our last day in London half the group went to the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels.  Some of the other cool things they saw were the “Bloody Tower,” the “White Tower” where armor is kept and the Brick Tower where exotic animals were kept.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group went to check out Tower Bridge.  It is a draw bridge that used to open multiple times a day, but now it only opens a few times per week.  As we walked along the river, we saw the draw bridge was up as a fishing boat with a tall sail went passed through.  We rushed to get our phones and cameras to make some really awesome pictures.
On our walk we saw something that was really interesting. Near the Tower of London, there was a very unusual bench.  It was in the shape of an open book.  It told the story of Katie’s adventure in London.  We found out there are 50 book benches all around London to promote reading.
The entire group met up and walked to the Globe Theate, which has an open roof.  We also visited the most recent recreation of the “Blackfriers Theater” which was used in the winter by Shakespeare’s company.   I had such an amazing time!
It was finally time to leave London.   We rode the tube to platform 9 ¾  at Kings Cross railway station. For Harry Potter fans, you know this is the platform Harry went through in order to get to Hogwarts.  Sadly, there was too long of a line for us to take pictures but we did get to see it.
We walked to the Eurostar Train Station, where we went through customs and waited for the Eurostar train to arrive.  Once we were all settled in and moving my dad and I went to explore the train.  It was my first time traveling on a train like this.  The train can travel up to 185 miles per hour.

We reached the station in the center of Paris two and a half hours after leaving London.  We had Shepard’s Pie like dinner of mashed potatoes, corn and beef.  Once everyone finished dinner swe went to our hotel and slept after our long but fun day.