Wednesday, 12 December 2012

36 hour day, 700 miles, beer pong tournament and breakfast at 7!...

We are in the alps... and already loving it! We left for our ski season today.

The day had finally come. It seemed like an eternity and then it rushed up on us before we knew it. Kerry's Mum and both of my parents were there at the train station to see us off, and a good friend Sarah came up to Victoria with us and our stupidly heavy bags. Lugging them the short distance down the road to the coach station was a real mission! But we found a nice italian and sat down for dinner.

Charlie, jemima, Stef and Lucy met us just as Sarah left for University. We had all met on the Chalet cookery course and by some fluke were all now employed by the same tour operator. We had a good chat and met some of their parents before heading across the road to the coach station where alot of young, ski/board people stood around with bags as big as ours! We all piled on to two coaches. It was a nice touch that there were 50 people to get on 2 x 47 seater coaches meaning we had plenty of space to loll around and generally spread out.

The coach journey was murder, for me atleast. It wasn't too bad on the way to the ferry but after we'd hit france it seemed to go on for ever. And it seemed I was the only one having trouble sleeping. I remember sitting there staring blankly in to space, everyone around me asleep, even the reserve driver, as thick thick snow fell. And we were only 2 hours in to France!

 We pulled up at an Aire, a small area similar to a service station, to fill up with fuel at about 8am. I used an android app I purposefully wanted to try out before our driving tour of Europe called NavFree. It allows you to download an entire countries road network on to the phone locally so the maps can be used offline (Without using data) The interface is a little clunky but it pinpointed where we were quickly and informed me we'd only travelled 400km and still had another 400 to go! That and I had to poo in a hole ;(

Everyone was a little bleary eyed and we all piled on for the last stretch. I did actually manage a little sleep between the aire and the start of the mountains, waking up to snow topped peaks on either side of the bus as we trundled down the autoroute. A quick check on Navfree showed we were only 40km from La Tania, the moutain village we were to be staying at. Of course these 40km were mainly the mountain road with steep hairpin bends that the bus struggled to negotiate. As good as our 2 drivers were at manoeuvring the large coaches, they just can't compete with the excellent (and sometimes scary!) driving of the French coach drivers.

We were greated in to the companies flagship new hotel by some of the managers, reps and hosts/hotel assistants from the previous week. We hauled our bags up some steep stairs and I was reminded just how much thinner the air was up here! We were only at 1400m altitude but my chest heaved for air, struggling with the half tonne weight of clothes and electronics I'd brought.

The afternoon was used for settling in to our rooms, collecting and signing for uniform and finally some welcome drinks and a small speech from the companies French Operations Manager. We were encouraged to mingle and get to know everyone and sat down for dinner, looking weary. After dinner we moved in to the lounge area where a large fire place sat with a chimney extending up and around a set of stairs that look like they could have been taken straight out of Harry Potter (Thanks Jemima)
All of a sudden 4 tables appeared, cups were laid out, an easel with a tournament hierarchy on was erected and a a loud voiced rep declared the start of the first 2012/13 Beer Pong contest to begin. I grouped up with a nice girl from Cheltenham who ski'd and we decided on “Sticks and Trays” for our team name, promptly getting annihilated in the first round!
The noise was incredible, everyone seemed to get a new lease of life and games were played for 5 minutes or until someone lost, with any drawn games being decided upon by a 'Dance off' resulting in some very funny and acrobatic moves!

The beer flowed and come 11:30 I was knackered, Kerry and I retired to our bedroom (which I've subsequently found out is an 'Executive' room!) so we could get some sleep before a 6:30 rise and breakfast at 7.

We are in the alps... and already loving it!

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