Posts tagged with france - page 2

Illness, travel and the French

My girlfriend Clarissa has given me a bug, and not the sometimes fun type that involves single-stepping to locate and subsequently fix. She has a very high temperature and her doctor has signed her off work for a week.

Either I’ve got that to come or I’ve been lucky. Why is the human body so incapable of signaling to the brain exactly what the problem is, perhaps with a shopping list of useful nutrients and vitamins it could do with to help the fight?

I’m off traveling for a month starting June 20th with a few days in Disneyland Paris with Clarissa to enjoy rides, fireworks and queuing (it’s what us Brit’s are good at apparently). After that we’re going to head down to Paris itself and take in the local atmosphere and attractions. I was going to write culture but that might have implied I’d be eating food typically associated with the French.

I’ve always been a bit mistrusting of the French, they drive far too fast and I remember them blocking the docks to England when they didn’t want our beef after the BSE scare when the EU had finally given it the all-clear. Well, I guess that’s up to them, but then they blocked it again when we then refused their not-yet-all-cleared beef! While we’re on the subject why is it that if you try and speak French and mispronounce a few words the listener acts completely lost and confused? In English we’re grateful you’re making the effort and can decipher the most hideous accents, pronunciations, missing words and incorrect order. Either the English language is more robust to such problems or the listeners are more tolerant…

Anyway, my opinion of the French went up this week when they took to the streets and told their government to stick it with regards to the EU Constitution. With hindsight the French government telling the USA they wouldn’t be part of their Iraq invasion plans was also a good stance. I still have to bear the shame and guilt bestowed upon me by the actions of my English government even if my expatriate status means I don’t get a vote. :(

After France we’re heading up to Germany, Höchstadt, just north-west of Nuremberg to meet Clarissa’s family and friends. My German is practically non-existent so I’m sure I’ll be totally lost in a non-physical sense. At this point Clarissa has to go back to work so I’ll be heading south and chewing through the remaining 21 days of my holiday by heading into Switzerland and then on to Italy. At this point I’m pretty sure the physical sense of being lost will kick in.

Time for a cup of tea, wish I had a snack in the cupboard.

[)amien

Les Arcs 1800, Part The Second – France

Goodbye Gatwick

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.

Hello Lyon

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.

[)amien

Ice, rocks and minor injuries

Just got back from a week skiing and boarding in Flaine. On our last visit we were wading knee-deep in powder just to get on the lifts however this time the god of snow had wandered off leaving Helios in charge. We soon unimaginatively tagged the runs that were open ‘Ice world’, ‘Rock world’ and ‘Walk world’ – no guesses as to why.

We finally found fresh powder off-piste near a big drop and had a lot of fun… Until one of my skis disconnected and smashed into my shin. Damn the French guy at the rental shop, I told him I wanted them tight – there again I also asked him to put stickers on the underneath of Em’s board saying “If you can read this please phone my mum”. He did neither.

On a brighter note I got to try out my newly acquired cooking skills against an eager audience (we were staying in an apartment) with both recipes going down very well. I also managed to devour Angels and Demons and StarDust whole as well as tucking into a fine portion of GBA action with Zelda: The Minish Cap. I can recommend all three with too much travel or muscle fatigue to sit through.

I’ve got a big group trip organized with friends for next month in Les Arcs so here’s hoping the snow god listens to my prayers…

[)amien