Trip Start May 02, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Where I stayed

Flag of France  , Rhône-Alpes,
Sunday, May 18, 2008

As mentioned, we arrived in Chamonix at about 10.00am.  We decided to go straight to the hotel and see if our room was ready. 

Not knowing how big Chamonix was or how many hills lay between us and our hotel, we decided to take a taxi to take care of our 2 big heavy suitcases, which are getting heavier and heavier after each kak store!

The taxi driver took us 1km down the road to our hotel then demanded 12 Euro (about AUD18-20) for the pleasure of this 2 minute trip.  What a rip-off!  This has to be the most expensive taxi trip per km we've ever taken!  Surprisingly, we found out later that this actually isn't too bad!  Apparently, there was a large family that took the same trip recently and were charged 60 Euro (about AUD120-150!) ... I believe this is where the term "highway robbery" comes from.

Anyway, decided we'd just walk back to the train station when it's time to go as it only takes 10min anyway!

Fortunately, our room was ready and the girl on the hotel desk spoke the best English of anyone we've met in France - which is great because our French is C'est Nul ("very bad").

As an aside here, Jeff can't even remember how to ask for a table for two in French!  He usually ends up saying the Malaysian word for two rather than the French one!  And he asks for "one" table rather than "a" table each time.   Hopeless!  Strangely he is quite fluent when it is just the two of us (of course that mainly consists of him saying "Bonjour Ma Cherie" then mutating into bad Monty Python French accents ...).

Felt so nice to have a shower and get cleaned up after sleeping in our clothes last night!  Ahhh!

Our room has a magnificent view of the valley.  Chamonix occupies the very narrow valley that exists between two huge snow-capped mountain ranges including Mont Blanc on one side (ski lift to near there was about 100m from our hotel) and The Brevent on the other side (ski lift about 400m to the right of our hotel).

The view from just about anywhere in town is phenomenally breathtaking!

The hotel desk informed us that there was no view to be seen from the top of the mountain that day due to cloud cover and that we would be better to get up early (like that's going to happen!) and go tomorrow instead.

As it was raining and very cloudy, we decided to go for a wander through town, get some lunch then see how the day was progressing.

We ended up at one of the restaurants recommended by the hotel as having a good reputation for serving great local food.  Thought we'd give it a try and Sherry ordered a dish which consisted of Savoy cabbage, onions and sausage slices swimming in melted cheese.  Jeff had Tartiflette, which was bacon, ham, and onions swimming in melted cheese of a slightly different sort.

Other specialties here include cheese fondue (in a wide variety of styles and accompaniments), and Raclette which is basically a gigantic (40cm) wheel of cheese brought to your table with a heating lamp.  You then use the lamp to melt successive layers of cheese and scrape these off to have with your ham, boiled potatoes and gherkins!

Do you detect a theme here?

We couldn't finish it ... it was all a bit too cheesy!

Instead, we decided to take the mountain train up to the Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice") a glacier nearby in which each year, they bore holes and make pretty ice caves with carvings etc.  They have to do this each year since the ice moves nearly 100m each year. 

Side note: this rate of movement was proved a while ago when two people fell into the glacier at a certain point.  The people died and their bodies were never recovered.  Using the rate of movement the glacier guys forecast that the bodies would turn up at the bottom of the glacier 41 years later ... and they did!

But back to our story ... we went to see the glacier and walked up and down some of the steep walk trails.  We fortunately didn't fall in, although Sherry got upset with Jeff for wanting to go off on all the tracks leading down to the glacier and ice caves.  He he he!

Luckily for us, the clouds lifted and we were able to see most of the glacier.  It was still raining and rather cold but it was a beautiful view anyway.

We returned to the valley, had dinner, and fell asleep watching bad American TV with funny French subtitles.
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