Originally published 22 December 2017
In front of our apartment, with the Alps in the background
We started our day by taking the hotel shuttle back to the airport. We weren’t flying again, but the bus for Chamonix leaves from there. It’s definitely colder up here than in London so heavy coats are the order of the day. We stand at the curb and talk with a kid from Canada and a family with small kids from Virginia, who are waiting for a bus as well…..and are having difficulty.
Their difficulty has made us nervous. We haven’t had breakfast yet so I duck into the terminal, grab two croissants and a couple of bottles of water. I’ve had croissants in the states and have been unimpressed. They were dry and scaly and not very good. I don’t know what they do with them here, but they’re amazing. Light, airy, flaky…………..so so good. We eat while we wait.
Our bus arrives and is driven by a middle aged British woman who has a bunch of tattoos, missing teeth, and purple hair. She tells us we can drop our packs on the bus but can’t get on until she gets back, as she “has to go to the loo” and we can go “grab a cup of coffee”. Being as we are short on trust due to the problems the other families were having, Laurie stayed with the van and I went in search of coffee.
The food stands all had lines and I saw a stand selling coffee out of a machine for 2 euros/francs. I check it out and it’s a real, genuine latte/espresso machine! You put coins in it and it grinds fresh coffee, and makes you a fantastic latte, all for 2 euros. I have decided that in addition to being awesome, this is the best bargain in Switzerland. I get my latte and head back to the van.
Laurie is still waiting and the other families who were having bus trouble found their bus. We stood and I drank my latte while we waited on our driver to come back from the bathroom. She showed up on time, we all loaded up in the van, and we headed out of the airport and towards the mountains. Chamonix is about 1 ¼ hours away.
The best coffee machine in Europe. I want one of these!
We head out of the airport and are not far out of town and the Alps jut literally straight up. Laurie has always said that I am not subtle. Every time I see the Alps, I am reminded that they too are not subtle. I guess that’s why I like them. Our bus driver (actually a large van seating about 15) drives kind of like I did in the race car. If someone got close, she would “lean” on them. She was quick and precise, jockying for position at toll booths and off ramps. She drove like Dale Earnhardt. We arrived without incident….or impact.
Our point of arrival is the Chamonix bus station and bowling alley. No….seriously. I’m not joking. We unload, and I’ve already google streetview walked to where we’re staying. I know where we’re headed so we head there. About ten minutes later we arrive at our AirBNB apartment.
We go in and it’s just great! It is in the bottom half of a chalet. It consists of one bed room, a full bath, and a small kitchen. It’s right in town, about 3 blocks from where our skis will be rented and stored, and not a long walk from either the railroad or the bus station. The downtown business district isn’t far either. We stow all of our stuff, pleased to be able to unpack and scatter things out a bit. We’ve been living out of a suitcase with one night stops since we left. It will be nice to get some time in just one place. Our host left a bottle of Champagne for us on the table, and gave us a card for free access to all trains and buses up and down the valley!
I have lost 35 pounds, thanks to Weightwatchers and Laurie’s prodding. Our lunch stop has reminded me that this particular itinerary may have been a tactical error on my part. I have three words for you. SEND. HELP. NOW. French food is insanely well done and I don’t think Laurie can drag me out of here if I start eating all of the amazing stuff they have here.
I’m hoping to burn an incredible amount of calories skiing so I don’t have to work too hard to get back on the wagon when I get home. James Michener said: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” We’re skiing in winter, which is customary around here. It’s Christmas and we’re part of the celebration, and we’re interacting with the locals. I am doing my part by refusing to reject the food. It’s just amazing………..come and save me. Laurie can’t do it on her own.
A decadent but delicious lunch
We were smart enough to eat a huge lunch before going grocery shopping. At this point we go to the grocery store, do some shopping to stock up our apartment, and then take it all back and stow it. I told Laurie tonight that while we’re definitely going out to eat and such while we’re here, I would not be unhappy going to the grocery store and cooking our own stuff in the apartment. The things available here are just so good.
Today is a work day. We’ve found our way around, done our shopping, and now we’re off to pick up our rental skis and equipment. We head back out into town, watching the sun start to skim the top of the mountains we’re surrounded by. This place is a 360 degree post card, and every direction you turn affords a fantastic view. I can’t wait to see it from up on the mountain.
We buy fresh bread and croissants. We get cheeses and cold cuts. We get chocolate mousse so light and fluffy it wants to float away. We buy coffee, milk, staple stuff for our kitchen. Our groceries for most if not all of our breakfasts, a dinner, and several deserts was about what a decent dinner out would cost. It’s cost effective, and when we get up in the morning we don’t have to go in search of breakfast. I kinda like that. Especially with the quality of stuff available here.
The ski rental shop is a few blocks from where we’re staying. We pop in, they find our reservation, and take care of us quickly. The guys in the shop speak much better English than I speak French. They’re funny and engaging. They also inform us that they’ll store everything for free and we can stop and pick our gear up in the morning and drop it off in the evening. We’re stoked and ready to ski!
We also remember something we forgot (shampoo and soap) for our apartment. We stop at one of the groceries in town and get it. We wander a bit more, have a coffee, and head back to our little apartment. After the massive lunch we had, dinner was, by comparison, quite light. We had croissants with herb and garlic cream cheese, and I put a little bit of an air dried ham the locals like here on mine. We chased this with chocolate mousse for dessert and have called an end to the food day. I GOTTA stop eating. Or maybe I’ll start smoking like all the Europeans.
We get up early tomorrow, as we head up the mountain. Wish us luck. I have hopes of amazing vistas and an epic day.
Chamonix slide show day one