Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Oct 15, 2008

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Where I stayed
UPCA argentiere

Flag of France  ,
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Well finally we got to the slopes!  We decided to go the overnight bus trip as it was so much cheaper then flying.  It was a 15hr trip and would have been much more comfortable if the driver hadn't made the temperature about 3 degrees!  Our feet were freezing!  But it wasn't the worst trip i have had, and the sleeping pills did help.

I have to say the Chamonix Valley has to be one of the most beautiful places i have been.  It has huge mountains leuming up around you as far as you can see, with glaciers toping most mountains.  Well the pictures do not do it justice.  Once we had arrived in Chamonix we had to find our way to a town called argentiere.  Now with the company we had booked through they just said to get a bus there and the hostel would be in the town center.  Just would like to say, do not travel with out going ski, they are useless.  The only information we had was that our hostel was located at 1250m at the heart of argentiere!  Not even the name of the hostel.  I had seen a picture of it so armed with that and some info from people on the bus, we got a train to argentiere.

Three girls on our bus were heading to the same place as we were so we joined forces and headed there.  Well lucky for us the hostel was across the road from the train station so easily found.  It ended up that we were in the same room as the girls that were on our bus, so Dave was quietly happy being stuck in a room with 5 girls.

We weren't able to go up the mountain on the first day so we checked out chamonix, had a nice lunch (guessing what it was were ordering) and checked out the mer de glace.  It is a huge glacier that heads on down into chamonix, we had to get a train up the mountain and the views were great.  Once up there we got a gondola and about 300 stairs down the the glacier.  It is an amazing thing a huge piece of moving ice, carving its way down the side of a mountain.  The glacier was this cool blue colour which would show every now and again through the snow.

An ice grotto had been carved out so we could walk around inside it, it was quite cool, and the ice was so smooth.  The glacier moves around 90m a year so each year a new cave has to be carved out to make sure it is safe to go in.

We got our ski gear on the Sunday and went up the mountain with Nikki, we thought there would be a green run up the mountain for Nikki, but in France it seems there is not always green runs.  We went down a blue run, which looked OK, but Nikki was, well scared, and just when we thought she was doing well, she well, fell over and hurt her knee!  Yes Dave and i did feel a little guilty.  Lucky for us one of the girls in our room was a physio and she was able to bandage it up and diagnose it as a small tear.  Lucky for us she was still able to get up the mountain every day.  Did help with the guilt.

Another thing that out going ski forgot to mention was that our included lessons were all day lessons, 9-3!  We thought it would have been more like an hr or two in the morning.  So we got put into groups, Dave and i were in the same group, but Nikki was put into another group, being a skier and a beginner.  It was more like a tour guide, so it was good that we got to explore all the mountains and runs.  Dave got quite good at doing fakie and 360 turns, so he was quiet pleased, and i think i just got more confident on the harder runs.

We got to know the other girls in our room quiet well and hung out with them quiet a bit off the snow.  One of the girls, Kristy, spent a lot more time drinking and sleeping then the rest of us, and as a result  went up the mountain about 2.5 days out of the 7.  Oh well each to there own. he he

It was lots of fun, we got a few good sayings going, as our instructors didn't speak English very well.  It was quiet common for them to explain something in french, ask us if we understood, we would say no, and then he would say 'OK, follow me....'  Or OK lets go' in a thick french accent.  The best day would have to have been on the Friday.  We caught a gondola up the grand Montets right up from 1300m's to the top at 3300m's.  You could really feel the altitude, it was harder to walk up stairs with out getting out of breath.  It was quiet daunting when there were yellow lights flashing and signs warning you about it being dangerous, for advanced skiers only.... but we were up for it.  It wasn't actually that bad, a few moguls, but the snow was better and there were not that many people around.  It was quiet steep, but i had a ball and it felt quiet cool to have made it down.

It was a really good organization UCPA, they do summer and winter activities all over France and it is not for profit so keeps the prices down.  We watched a pantomime thing they put on one night.  the mime things that they put on were really funny, but then speaking ones left us completely lost as we had no idea what was going on!  It was strange watching a skit going on with people laughing and you just sitting there looking confused.

All in all it was a great week, and i wish we weren't back at work, but, we need all the money we can get before we leave for our big trip.  6 weeks to go!
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