Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chamonix Part 2

Dislaimer: I KNOW I'm super late with this and I'm very very sorry, especially to Mom. I don't know what happened and am really sorry. Here goes though and enjoy! :-)

My two final days in Chamonix were just as exhausting. After skiing two days, I decided to do all the touristy stuff I keep seeing signs for. The Aguille du Midi and Mer de Glace were two I kept seeing signs for. I also kept seeing signs to go visit St. Bernards which I really wanted to do, but they were closed in the winter. I tried to go to the Aguille du Midi, but the weather was lousy and there was zero visibility, so I decided to go to Mer de Glace instead per the ticket lady’s recommendation.

I really didn’t know what it was but I didn’t know it involved a train up the mountain, so that worked for me. I got up front and off we went. You board a really old train that goes about 2 miles an hour and literally go up through windy rails up the mountain. 30 minutes later, you find yourself amoung the massive peaks and I see a gondala that is supposed to take us down to see this Mer de Glace, which trainslates to Sea of Ice. I finally read the pamphlet and essentially this is a glacier that has settle in the mountain. It’s really breathtaking. We take the gondala down, which is when I realize I’m pretty scared of gondolas, and then turns out we have 350 stairs to go down to get into the glacier. That means we also need to go up the 350 stairs once we’re done with an altitude of 10,000 feet. Once down there, I’ll admit it was a little cheesy.They put some neon lights and had some terrible ice sculptures, but it was still pretty cool to know that we were inside a glacier in the middle of the Alps. The entire tour takes about 5 minutes and then you have to walk back up the 350 stairs. Here we go! Thankfully, they are in clumps, so its easy to stop. I ended up taking so many pictures as an excuse to stop.Unfortunately, I don’t have the best camera, so the pictures don’t do it justice, but it was simply amazing.

There’s a restaurant at the base that had a pretty rich history, so I went and had lunch there. I got the special which was a piece of quiche, polenta, green salad, and home made country pate.Delicious. The polenta especially. Afterwards I walked around a little more and headed back on the last train back to the hotel. Stopped to get some vin chaud, which I’m now addicted to and listened to a band plan in my hotel bar. This one was much better than the leather clad band I saw before, thank goodness.

The next day was my last day in Chamonix and today I had to go to the Aguile du Midi. It’s basically a Gondala that takes you all the way to the top of the Mont Blanc up 15,000 feet.There was still no visibility, but this is the second most visited attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower, so I have to do it. This is when I realize that I’m terrified of Gondalas. I’m not typically scared of much, but my heart was definitely beating hard and my hands could not have held on to the handlebars any tighter. We get up to what I thought was the top, but no. To get all the way to the top, you have to take a second gondala. No point in going back now. I had paid close to $50 to do this, so off I went. This time, we couldn’t even see where we were going there was so much snow and fog. TERRIFIED. We get up there and I can’t breathe and my heart is beating so hard. The combination of the fear and the altitude did not help. Once up there, I couldn’t see anything because of the fog/snow storm, so sat in the cafĂ© to get my breath back. I didn’t really want to get back in the gondala, but was ready to get back down.

Overall, it was fascinating and now that I’m off the thing am really glad I did it. The minimal views I did get were amazing. But that was it. No more gondolas.

Then I realized I didn’t have a hotel for Friday night in Geneva, so needed to find wireless somewhere. I was told a couple places that had free wireless, so checked those out. Two of them were closed, the next one turned off their internet between 12-3 for lunchtime (what?!) and the last one was McDonalds. I did not want to go to McDonalds, but I needed Internet, so in I went. As part of the menu, you can add a beer! Ok, fine. I’m sold. So, I get my chicken sandwich and beer and go set up to get Internet. Shocker, it doesn’t work. I finally go back to the hotel and they have a computer I can use for $.50 a minute. Fine. I get my hotel, check email, get my bags and head over to the bus station to go back to Geneva. The bur ride was as smooth as before, but dark. I even was able to fall asleep a bit. It was still snowing in Geneva and it was freezing.

My adventure ends tomorrow and I’m very sad. They are still saying that there are strikes at the airport with the luggage carriers, but I don’t’ really care at this point. I’m still in my vacation glow, so nothing can get me down!

Stairs to glacier

Gondola to glacier

Me in Alps

Delicious Lunch

Inside the glacier

Hikers on the glacier
More glacier pictures

Rediculous gondola to Aguille du Midi

View from gondola - TERRIFYING

Again, view from gondola above the clouds

No comments:

Post a Comment