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Published: July 22nd 2006
The village with Mont Blanc in the background
This is the name of my first novel, if I ever get around to writing it. Given that I am struggling to keep my journal entries up to date at the moment, maybe not. Basically, my 3+ days in Chamonix were full of great little vignettes. There was the bus trip from Geneva airport leading to me being invited to my first stag night, the adrenalin rush of paragliding off Grand Montets (3,300m), the sensational cable car ride across to Italy, and some awesome hiking.
In more detail.......
After arriving at Geneva airport without confirmed transportation to Chamonix, I was approached by a sleazy little man offering a door-to-door service to Chamonix. After determining that this was easily the quickest way for me to get to Chamonix, I, along with a small bus load of others, jumped on board. Martin from Aberdeen (formerly of Liverpool) sat next to me on the bus. We had a great chat about our travels. Martin was heading to Cham to catch up with a few Northern mates for a stag weekend (although it was actually the pre-stag weekend, the real one is in September). I got invited along and, with no better offers
Ready for take off.....
I was the last of five to take off from Grand Montets (3,300m)so I got to take a few snaps of my fellow flyers.
at the time, gratefully accepted.
The next morning, I arranged my paragliding flight. I had seen some guys paragliding in Heidelberg (Germany) when I was there and was extremely jealous. I had never done it but have always wanted to. Given the opportunity in Cham, and to take off at such a great altitude, seemed perfect - and it was. It was incredibly exhilarating and such a rush. After 45 minutes of extreme peace hanging above the valley, we landed and I walked off in some sort of strange state. Because I was so pumped, I even managed to follow up with a 2 hour hike with ease!
That night, I headed out to dinner with the boys. It was odd as an Aussie to walk into the Micro Brewery of Chamonix (MBC) with its Canadian maple leaf emblem, have dinner with 6 Poms and be served by a Kiwi waitress! Food and bevies flowed, only to be rudely interupted by a car smash right outside the door. It was really loud but fortunately no one was hurt and it was entertaining (in an odd/macabre sort of way) to hear some serious yelling in French. We think the
On the way.....
Snapped just after my take off as we were still high on the mountain and Chamonix looked oh so far away.
young driver of one of the cars was not paying attention and rear ended the other as it went to make a turn.
The majority of the conversation for the evening will go under the category of "what happens on the stag night, stays on the stag night". This is a G-rated blog afterall. However, Martin insisted that I publish his "Harley's 3 types of Drunkards" so that one day, someone from the other side of the world will mention this categorisation to him in passing. Basically, type 1's get aggressive, type 2s are split into (a) manic and then cry and (b) manic and then do stupid things (we've all seen that) and type 3s fall asleep. Haven't come up with alternatives myself yet but feel free to comment.
So, my first stag night was one to remember and provided me with a great insight to a domain I had previously not entered.
Day 2 in Cham was my next altitude test - Aiguille du Midi - and also the chance to enter Italy via cable car. It was a perfect day and the 100's of photos I took of Mont Blanc and surrounds will support
Pre-stag night 1
Martin, Phil, Jez, John, Ray, Ged, and me at the MBC.
that. And there were so many climbers out and about. I was feeling very jealous but I have never attempted any technical climbs before and this was not the place to start. Instead, I got to sit in a cable car by myself, GPS on the ledge, camera lenses on the seat and at the ready and snapping away to my heart's content. The altitude itself did have some effect on me. I did feel a little nauseous and had more difficulty breathing than normal when under exertion but I think it also had something to do with a lack of sleep (I was still buzzing from the paragliding experience) and maybe a little too much alcohol the night before.
After returning from Italy, I came down to below snow level and trekked across to Montevers where I saw the tackiest tourist attraction of the trip to date - an ice cave. Inside, they had poorly carved ice sculptures in several caverns and one cavern containing a St Bernard dog that you could pay to have your photo taken with. That was a very quick place to visit. Caught the train back to Chamonix from there.
I'm in Italy!!!!
and I decided that round 2 of the stag weekend was on (I must not have cramped their style too much the previous evening) so I went to their campsite in Argentiere - a village just a little way up the valley from Cham right next to Grand Montets - for dinner and a few drinks. We then headed to the pub for a few more. I even managed to offer some suggestions for activities for the real stag weekend. They were talking paint ball, rock climbing, that sort of thing. I suggested going to an Aussie pub to watch the AFL grand final but it didn't float (and dear Aussie readers - I do not want a single response from any of you relating to my poor Bombers - I get the weekly results sent to my email so I know how badly they are playing this year). I did get an invite to the real stag party but I will be in Hong Kong by then and they weren't willing to entertain that as the host city for the event either! Another funny night....but definitely more of "what happens on the stag night...."
Next day I did
my longest and best hike of the stay in Chamonix. I think it was less than 10km but took over 4 hours and featured lots of rocky climbs and descents, lakes, snow (including me falling flat on my backside multiple times going down hill), mountain goats, marmots, heaps of wildflowers and beautiful mountain vistas. This was on the other side of the valley so I was looking across to Mt Blanc. Just awesome.
Back to the hostel and sleep and it was then time to leave this little piece of heaven.....Italy awaits.
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