Heads in the cloud

Trip Start Aug 17, 2012
Trip End Sep 13, 2012

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What I did

Flag of France  , Rhône-Alpes,
Friday, September 7, 2012

We have just spent the last 3 days in the alpine town of Chamonix, France. This village of wooden chalets with copious amounts of geraniums charm yours eyes, while the ragged mountains tower beyond what your eyes can see.  We dished out a few more Euros for lift tickets to go up onto the mountain in the breathtaking cable car.  People speaking all languages cram into the car like sardines.  It is a hair raising and ear popping ride over rocks, waterfalls, and glaciers.  Finally, you reach the mid way point, and then shuffle onto the next lift, once again crammed into the car like packing peanuts, and ascend beyond ear popping into dizzying thin air.  It took me a couple of minutes to acclimate to the elevation of 3842m, which I think is 12,605 feet.  Jonathan on the other hand, not so much.  He's not the biggest fan of heights.  (But, I on the other hand hate depths… like water, caves, etc. )  We make a lovely couple. 

After getting off of the lifts, we spent a few hours hiking around on that first day.  We hiked down to a "Refuge" where we sat and had lunch.  I had a dish, that in the south we would definitely call a casserole, but here it had a very fancy name with a lot of vowels.  There were potatoes, local cheese, lard (which is bacon), and tomatoes, in this dish.  Jonathan had a delicious omelet with similar ingredients as my dish.  They use a lot, and I mean A LOT of local cheeses.  One night we had a cheese fondue as our meal.  The cheese can be very strong, and like the altitude, I needed a little acclimating to this.  Although we do fondue at home, here they dip much different foods into the lava of local cheese.  I at home would dip breads, and vegetables; here, they dip smooth as a baby’s butt potatoes and shambon.  I have learned that shambon is ham.  That is really all I saw that was dipped into the cheese.  I think I need to show them other things to dip in there as well.  And, not one chocolate fondue did I see!!!  WHAT????  I may have needed to cross over into Swiss country to get that. 

We enjoyed our hike so much the day before, that we did it again the next day.  This time, we set out more for an adventure and journey trekking around the mountain.  We stopped by the Casino, (grocery store here), bought some foods for a picnic, which included apples, more local cheese and some pre-made sandwiches.  We rented walking sticks each, and set out for the jaw dropping views once again on the same lifts.  We rode the lift to the trailhead, and from there we hiked and hiked and hiked some more.  Now, I have done a good bit of hiking in my day, and I know Jonathan is even a more experienced hiker than me, but this exceeded all other hikes.  As you dip down into each valley and then come over a ridge, there is just another valley and ridge to cross.  I felt like a new world explorer, with my local cheese and apple in tow.  The views only exponentially grew more grand.  At one time, we were right on the edge of the mountain, closely hanging to the alpine edge, watching and calculating each step.  As you could tell, the town of Chamonix was to the left and you could barely make out the houses with your eyes.   I knew we were very high when I was standing on the mountainside MUCH higher than the helicopters were flying.  That woke me up!!!  But, as we crossed over the ridge, with our feet in tandem, and hiking sticks giving us more support, there was right in front of us the BIGGEST, tallest mountain from base to sky, with jagged towers and snow capped peaks. We had to stop for just a moment to give the view its adequate moment of silence.  The 4 hour hike was worth that one view.   As we descended the other side of this view, there was another surprise just below it.  Here, just below us in the valley was the slowly snaking glacier, that lies in the crevices of the mountain peaks, giving up to melt into the water falls below.  As amazing as the hike was, we were glad to see the train that would give our weary mountaineer feet a break.

I somehow managed to restore my energy on the train ride down, as I could not wait to get on the luge track in the amusement park below.  That was great fun!!!  I love some speed.  We did it 2x each.  I think I screamed the whole way down. It is definitely the fastest one I’ve ever done.  It was on steel frames. 

That night we came back to the room earlier than we have the whole trip. I do think we were beat!!!  So, we will be packing up and heading to Tuscany now.   I absolutely fell in love with Italy when we were here 2 years ago.  This part of the trip is inspired by the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun.”  We will be staying in Cortona, then finishing up our trip in Florence.  I am SO ready for PASTA!!! 

I have lost a few items along the way.  One, my face moisturizer, and blow dryer adaptor/diffuser.  Oh well.  I’ll have to show you a picture of my diffuser.  It didn’t fit the hotel blow dryers very well, so I constructed an “international adaptor”.

I would also like to say that although I am having a great time, I am really ready to just grab a burger, go to the movies and understand what others are saying. Being a nosey person, I find it difficult to be in others’ business when I have no idea what is being said. I am getting better though.  I can pick out a few words here and there.  And, just contextually, I am getting the drift!   Our television is quite restrictive.  BBC and CNN is about all we can understand.  I sometimes just try to read lips of English movies, but that is just too much work.  It will be nice to just sit down to watch a movie when I get back home.  But, who needs movies when you are just too busy exploring the world.

It’s off to Tuscany now.  Chow.
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Wanda on

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful.

Teresa on

Thanks so much for the beautiful pictures and telling us all about your travels. It makes you feel let you are there.

Mom, RR on

The pictures and videos are outstanding, as well as your commentaries!!!
I Love You! Mom

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