Mustafa recently was supported to go to Geneva in Switzerland by David Owen and this is Dave's diary.

On Friday I went to Mustafa's house and he answered the door.  Mustafa appeared quieter than usual. Carol said that it was because he was excited. I was excited too. Neither of us had ever been to Switzerland and the prospect of a little city break was much more appealing than the usual day in the office.

We collected all our documentation; Mustafa hugged his mum and we headed out of the door and took a bus to the airport.  We made our way through customs rather quickly.

Mustafa was in high spirits on the plane. As we took off, he waved out of the window saying “bye bye England”. The flight was quite quick and before we knew it, we were flying over Lake Geneva.

I had printed out directions to the hotel so we bought our day rider tickets and looked for our bus stops. After a couple of hours navigating the public transport system of Geneva, we finally ended up in the Louis Simon district of town. We had to cross the border in to France to get to our hotel. Our accommodation was quite rustic with lots of wooden veneer but the beds were comfy. We unpacked our stuff and then headed back over the boarder to get some tea. Mustafa was adamant that he wanted McDonald’s. despite all of my valiant attempts at gently persuading him to try some local food, we visited the Swiss Maccy’s. Mustafa had 6 nuggets, chips, Fanta and a large Dime bar McFlurry. The grand total of which came to 23 Swiss Francs! (£20). After McDonald’s we took an evening stroll and caught the bus back to the hotel.

On Saturday we woke up at 7:30AM and got ready to hit the town. Mustafa wanted to try Alpen to see if it was any better in its country of origin. We had a mission and so hopped on to the number 12 tram. We jumped off in Petit Bel Air which looked rather grand and posh. Petit Bel Air made us think about a miniature Will Smith and oh how we laughed!

There was a little café on the corner of an old square which looked like it may sell muesli so we tried our luck. The waiter spoke better English than me! We asked whether they sell muesli. He said “yes we serve muesli but it is different over here. Our muesli is soaked in yoghurt overnight and is full of fruit. It is really tasty”. We decided to go for the muesli. Mustafa ate the entire thing and said that it was delicious. I took this to be a real achievement for him. He travelled to a different countries capitol city and tried something new. Not only that, but he enjoyed it as well.

The breakfast set us up for the day and so we proceeded along our journey with renewed vigour. The first port of call was a supermarket for picnic materials. We wanted to try some genuine Swiss Cheese. The supermarket was similar to the supermarkets in the UK but more expensive. We got some bread, cheeses, salami, apple juice, water, apples and a massive Toblerone which was roughly the size of an adult shin bone. The Toblerone pushed the price of our picnic up to an eye watering 32 Swiss Francs!

With our bags packed we looked around the shops for souvenirs but reluctantly conceded that everything was way out of our price range (small teddy £50). Mustafa said that he was hungry so we looked for a perch. On the shores of Lake Geneva there was a bench overlooking a fountain which sprayed water 150 feet into the air. The view was spectacular so we decided to stop there for our picnic. As we assembled our butties, sparrows and finches gathered at our feet. They were quite bold for such small birds and one flew up and nicked the cheese off my sandwich.

What to do next? Mustafa told me that he did not want to go to the Natural History Museum as it would be full of kids so we opted for a visit to CERN (the European Centre for Nuclear Research). CERN is a facility which houses the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). This is a 27 Kilometre ring of powerful magnets which fire atomic particles into each other at the speed of light. The ring has 3 massive sensors called ATLAS, ALICE and CMS. These sensors observe the particle collisions. Thanks to the LHC we now know more about how gravity works, have created string theory, proved the existence of the Higgs Boson particle and have advanced our understanding of the universe’s beginnings. We took the tram 45 minutes up into the alps and had a look around. There was lots to see and we spent a lot of time learning about nuclear physics. After a while, Mustafa wanted to go back to the hotel so we got back on to the tram to Louis Simon.

Back at the hotel we had a change of clothes and a shower so that we looked proper snaz. As we went out to hit the town, we noticed a massive storm rolling over the Alps. It was catching up to us fast. The clouds were dark blue and lightening was erupting in them. I have never seen anything like it. It was like the end scene from Ghostbusters when Ric Moranis turns into that demon dog. We caught the bus just in time for the heavens to open up. Almost immediately, the sky turned black, winds ripped barriers from the side of the road and flung them into the path of our bus.

The storm became more severe. A tree was uprooted and collapsed in to the road as we drove past. Police cars and fire engines were frantically driving up and down responding to a catalogue of emergencies, the hailstones pounded the roof of the bus to the point where we thought the glass would crack. It was all very exciting. By the time we reached Anne Massie district the worst of the storm had passed. However, a river was rushing down the street at least 1 foot deep. We could see pedestrians struggling to not get swept away. Fathers holding children as the torrent broke against their strollers. We decided to stay on the bus until we got to Thonex. 

It was still raining although nowhere near as fiercely as it had been. We found a nice little café to write our postcards from. Just up the road there was a little place with a nice view. We ordered our soft drinks from a friendly waitress who could not speak English but gave it a go. We mimed our order much to the amusement of the bar staff and they gave us some free pretzels. Mustafa wrote a postcard to Jacqui Perry and to his mum. Mustafa and I wondered whether the postcards would get to Liverpool before us. Probably not. We sat for a little while and enjoyed our drinks before having another explore. 

We caught the tram back to Rue De Genève to find some grub. There was a little place next to the tram stop called the Blues Bar. The name inspired us to give it a try. They had a fridge with 3 (what looked like) pork pies in. Other than that, no food. We stayed for a drink of Fanta. There was a pizza place around the corner and we thought we’d give it a try. The Pizza’s had a nice base but the one we ordered ended up being chicken, onion and potato?!?! Potato on a pizza!!! Now I have truly seen it all. We didn’t finish it because the ingredients pushed the boundaries of our culinary understanding too much. Surprisingly, it was the excessive white onions, not the potato which was the most unpalatable ingredient. We walked through Louis Simon and across the border back to our hotel.

On the last day Mustafa had a lie in. We got up, packed our bags and made ourselves ready for the final day in Geneva. The weather was glorious. Real shorts weather. Mustafa was sad to leave and asked to come back in 2020. We had a final Mc Flurry (£4:50). Nowhere seemed to be open so we caught the bus back to the airport. Geneva Airport was a lot bigger than Liverpool John Lennon and you could see lots of private jets from the window.  Mustafa likes airports and didn’t seem to mind that the flight was delayed.

We finally boarded the plane Mustafa seemed happy and tired. We could see the sun reflecting on Lake Geneva as we circled the mountains. The flight was quick. We descended through the grey clouds back to the drizzle of England. Bus back home and a cup of tea with Mustafa's mum to tell her all about our adventures.

by DAVID OWEN