We departed from the Academy at 3:20pm to go to terminal 1 of Manchester airport; when we got there, we just had to go through the security check because Mr Rayner had already checked us in as he booked the flights online. After we went through the tedious process of X-raying the bags and passport control, we went for a wander round the shops in the airport. Once everyone had done looking around we went and had dinner at Burger King, while we waited for the gate to open. Once we had all eaten we all congregated round the screen that told us when the gate would open. The gate opened and we all rushed to the gate to get near the front of the queue Once on the plane we found 9 seats all together so the 9 of us (Mr Rayner, Miss Kelly, Sophie Winter, Myself, Chris Mole, Liam Whelan, Ben Lomas, Jake Chambers and Aashi Yaseen) jumped into the seats.
The plane ride itself was particularly boring but aren’t they always? We were on the plane for about an hour and a half. We landed and it was dark so all of the runways were lit up like Christmas trees. After we got through passport control we made our way to the Geneva Airport Train station. We went down to the stop and Mr Rayner got so excited when he realised that the train was a double decker so of course we had to go upstairs on the train. The train journey was only 15 minutes but we were all still highly amused by the double decker train. Not to mention Mr Rayner. We got off the train in the centre of Geneva, then from there it was only a 10 minute walk from the station to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel and sorted the rooms: in one were Sophie and Aashi; in another was Chris and Liam and in the last shared room was Ben and Jake and myself. Mr Rayner and Miss Kelly got individual rooms which I though was brilliant. We dropped our bags in the room and then wandered off down to the lake; everywhere was bustling with life. We found a little lakeside café so we sat and had a drink and then we walked round some more of Geneva and we ended up back at the hotel at about 11:30.
We had to be up in the morning for 9:00 so we could go and get breakfast. We all made it up in time so we walked a little down the street and went into a quaint little café and Mr Rayner insisted we had an authentic continental breakfast. The majority of us had a cup of tea and a croissant. Tasty. Afterwards, we walked down to the tram station to get the tram to CERN but, in a rush to get out of the hotel, Mr Rayner left the passports in his bag so we had to walk all the way back to the hotel and get the passports. We had to trek all the way back to the way back to the tram stop and, when we got round the corner, the tram docked and we all ran to try and catch the tram, which we did. It left imminently and Mr Rayner’s disappointment that the tram was single decker was soon forgotten when we found out that public transport in Geneva is free.
We walked in to the Reception at CERN and checked in and watched a presentation about CERN what CERN does and its conception. When the video finished, the tour guide came in and said, “Hi my name is Mario, I’m German and I don’t find the light button, let’s go outside,” which made us all laugh. We went outside and crossed over the road and he explained to us what was inside the big globe of science and innovation. We went past that and through to the Atlas detector control centre, where there was a video about what the Atlas detector does. Next, we went upstairs to a dark room so we could watch another video that was in 3D and showed us how they built the detector down in the cavern. While we were there they showed us the up to date and accurate graphs for the proton beams.
When we left the Atlas centre and got back on the tram, we went to this little pizzeria and had lunch. It was arguably the nicest pizza I have ever eaten. While we were waiting for the tram back to CERN we could see right down the road through CERN and right down through the France-Switzerland border and it was such an amazing sight. We got the tram back to CERN and went in to the globe of science and innovation. We watched the light show that demonstrated how the universe and everything began; it was spectacular. Once the light show finished we looked round the exhibits and one of them was the original plans and server for the internet. Once we finished in the globe we went across to the Microcosm exhibition.
The Microcosm exhibition had some of the history of CERN, some mini experiments and some parts of some of the detectors and there was an experiment demonstration, by a French scientist. We didn’t have much of an idea of what he was saying but we understood the odd word like oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen and when he was asking for a pen. Despite this, it was interesting; he flash froze the air inside a balloon and some water with liquid nitrogen which was quite cool (literally) because the air inside the balloon was frozen in seconds and it looked like the balloon had deflated. As soon as he took it out of the liquid nitrogen, the air inside the balloon defrosted instantly.
After the demonstration, we got the tram back into the centre of Geneva and we went back to the hotel for a few hours. We relaxed, played cards and watched TV. Before we left for the restaurant at 7:00 we all got changed into smarter clothes and went for a walk down to the lake and down on to the pier. We spent about half an hour on the pier just looking at the jet d’eau; the jet d’eau is a 140 metre high water fountain situated in lake Geneva. When it got to about 7:45 we walked to the restaurant for a traditional Swiss Fondue at a restaurant at one of the partner hotels to the one we were staying. We ordered 2 meat fondues and one cheese fondue which was great; dipping bits of bread in melted cheese. While we were eating the fondue they brought out some fries and every time we ran out of fries they just brought out more fries. Until we ordered dessert. While we were eating the meal and dessert, the restaurant has a traditional Swiss band playing. The band was unbelievably good; everyone really enjoyed it. Between the two people in the band they could play the guitar, accordion, spoons, kazoo, penny whistle, ball bearings in a bowl, the alphorn(a giant horn) and an octave of cow bells. One of the artists could yodel!
When we had finished dessert we wandered round the city seeing sites for a few hours until we went back to the hotel. When we got back a few of us went in one room and watched TV, played cards and discussed the events of the day and how we wished we could have stayed longer than a weekend because we all really enjoyed our Swiss adventure. We all went to bed and were up pretty early again to we drag all of our belongings down to the lobby.
We went out for breakfast again but, before eating, we went and booked a boat ride on Lake Geneva. We had breakfast in the old town then walked around as the churches were ringing their bells. We finished up in the old town and then we went to the Natural History Museum, which was really quite interesting because we saw loads of cool things like dinosaur bones and fossils. When we had finished in there we rushed to the port to get a good seat on the boat; the sights we could see from the boat were breath taking. We saw the United Nations building, castles, cathedrals and many other buildings; when we got off the boat we had to go and get our bags and head to the airport.
The train we caught to the airport was only a single Decker; Mr Rayner was so disappointed. We got through all the checks and security so fast that we had ages to shop around in the airport and get some lunch. We got called to the gate and we were stood there for 15 minutes, waiting for the speedy boarders to get on the plane. When we got on we found a cluster of 9 seats again, which was good. The flight seemed to have taken less time than it did to get to Geneva and when we got back we were speeding through. It was “plane sailing”. When we got out of the airport we had to wait for the taxis but we made it back to the Academy for about 7:20pm.
So, all in all, it was a brilliant weekend and we all really enjoyed ourselves.
By Robert Ackers