Friday, March 11, 2011

Sun, snow and attempted murder

Sooooo...about that ski trip, right?

We headed off from London on a Friday, flying in to Geneva. Nana and Grandpa arrived the next morning, and the six of us, and our multitude of baggage (3 ski bags, 5 suitcases, 2 children) piled on to a bus to head to Meribel. Three hours and one rendition of "Jungle Book 2", we arrived. After a somewhat haphazard ride on the shuttle bus, we found our flat and unloaded. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the older participants in this adventure were thrilled to see all the white stuff on the ground. Sadly, most of that ground was a lot higher up on the mountain - they hadn't gotten any snow in more then a month when we arrived, but the trails seemed to be pretty well covered still.

The next morning, we found the ski school for the girls and, armed with a bag of Gummi Bears and strict instructions to take care of her little sister, Devil managed to make the transition without too much drama. She was very reluctant to go, completely unconvinced that this was going to be any fun at all, and her Dad had the brilliant parenting moment of framing it as a scenario where she needed to take care of Boo. Being a nurturing soul, this was just the ticket. There were some tears and wailing, but nothing compared to some of the other ski school kindergarden participants waiting to get in. And by day 3, when I asked her if she was nervous about going to ski lessons, she said "Moooom, I've been twice already..." as if my question was completely out of left field and an insult to her capabilities.

So our week went something like this: get up, roust everyone into their snow gear (by Wednesday the girls were happily clomping around in their ski boots while the rest of us struggled to get ourselves together), rush off to the shuttle and head to the base lodge. Drop girls off, climb on lift and head upwards. Frantic skiing for 2.5 hours, and then rush back to get girls for lunch. Pizza, omelettes, more fries then you can shake a stick at, then Nana and the girls would head off, while the rest of us went back up the hill. The snow was ok - better in Val Thorens then Courcheval (higher and lower respectively) - the whole skiing experience was very different then our previous experience. Overall, I would say the terrain was less challenging. That might have largely been a function of the lack of snow - most of the off piste stuff wasn't available (although Himself did try out some likely looking drops, mostly to his regret and our entertainment) - but everything that was open was groomed within an inch of its life. Lovely corn snow, some feeble en-snowment ("faible enneigement" being the French equivalent of "thin cover").

The other really spectacular difference was the fashion. There we were, four New Englanders, and I was the flashiest in my bright orange jacket.

But some of the Euro-outfits were unbelievable. Like this one.

These guys were just silly - an alligator, Pancho Villa, Superman, the Tick, Batman and a sumo wrestler hit the slopes for the day.

But this lady was the crowning glory. She even had a matching hat. I spotted her while standing in line for the gondola, and almost fell off the ramp trying to get a good shot.

She was spectacular. Devil tried to get in on the Euro look, but I'm not so sure it plays as well on an almost-6-year-old Texan.

The last couple of days, we took advantage of the lovely sunny weather and the girls' growing enthusiasm for this sliding around on snow stuff to take them out on the real slopes. They were pretty thrilled, although turning and stopping weren't really high up in their list of priorities. Which gave their mother heart palpitations and their grandfather giggles at the irony*. But I think we got a good start with the snow obsession!

Daddy as rope tow

And now for the attempted murder by cholesterol poisoning. On our first day, my lovely husband and my dad decided that it made sense to have lunch at the restaurant at the top of one of the lifts. What we didn't consider was the lack of competition at that particular location was going to lead to major price issues. But, we rationalized, we're on vacation, so what the hell. I ordered a hamburger, and when it arrived I was blown away. Picture this: a large burger with bacon, sauteed onions and cheese on top, sandwiched between two fried potatoe cakes and topped with yet more bacon. And a lovely green salad on the side. It was death on a plate. Somehow I managed to gobble choke it down, but out of concern for my coronary arteries, I stayed away from the Savoy burgers for the rest of the week.

An early morning bus on Saturday took us back to Geneva in time to hang about at the airport for three hours before our flight. And then we were back in London, half-term finished, and the Small Ridiculous Dog's arrival imminent! More on that later.

* I distinctly remember scaring the bejeezus out of him at least once during the learn-to-ski years. At least once. But no more then three or four times, right Dad?

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