We checked in as two small groups to avoid the disproportionate delay with checking in larger groups and headed off to the airport shops for breakfast and retail therapy.
Somebody once told me that there is no rationalization for checking in hours ahead and it is merely a ploy for you to spend money while you wait. Those in government cite security concerns but the fact is you can drive through most of the borders of Europe with only a cursory glance and minimal security checks.
I reluctantly chewed on an overpriced sandwich and a cherry muffin while a friend of mine started on a pint of beer. It was a little past 6:30am.
The flight itself was fairly uneventful unless of course you’re a little scared of flying. Like me. Then every small bump feels like the end of your life and you can’t help but imagine the falling-out-of-the-sky experience that would be caused by a wing falling off.
We landed at Lyon airport, the second worst airport I’ve been in after Dabolim in Goa, India and even they are working on a new one. We queued for 25 minutes waiting to be waved past by two bored looking French customs officials and then had to stand around 45 minutes while the baggage handlers went for lunch half-way through putting our luggage onto the carousel. This isn’t the first time my holiday has come to an abrupt halt because a Frenchman was hungry…
Stopping on a French motorway stuck in a coach for an hour with no facilities isn’t fun, but it would have been less fun to be stuck in a red Seat Ibiza for an hour while the ambulance got to you. I’m not entirely sure who or what else was involved with the accident but I hope the passengers were okay. Anyone who’s driven in France can appreciate the risks.
En-route our kiwi rep from Neilson, Ingrid, scouted out those of us in need of passes and lessons and apologized for the lack of refreshments. I started on a bottle of Coke I had in my rucksack and bathed in the murderous glow of those around me.
Neil Gaiman kept me entertained with his prose in American Gods while Zelda kept my twitchy fingers occupied with her Minish Cap. No, it’s not an educational game about contraception.
Ooh, Les Arcs
We finally arrived at Les Arcs which is near Tigne and Val d’Isere, specifically Arc 1800 (the height of the resort, we also found 1600, 1950 and 2000). It’s a rather picturesque resort compared to the likes of concrete Flaine with it’s wooden apartments, shops and eateries sprawling along the length of the lower ski-runs.
We checked in at one side and trekked to our apartments loaded with luggage and bedding across icy paths. It appeared they were only cleared once a day and I found myself wishing for the American fear-of-getting-sued culture that would have them cleared almost hourly.
Having argued with the guy in the rental shop that no my friends wouldn’t be paying an extra 30 Euro’s each because our rep had misspelled our pre-paid coupons I informed them I’d deliver corrected ones tomorrow.
We ate, something, and I clambered up the little ladder to my blanked-laden top bunk before passing out into the usual feast of bizarre imagery that constitutes my dream state.