Friday, 22 August 2008

Further Adventures

Well, as I alluded to in the previous entry, I was feeling under the weather earlier on in the week and now have, of all things, a stinking cold.

Wednesday, we took a pause to catch our breath. For me, this meant getting up quite early, having a spot of breakfast, then going back to bed! As it was, I didn't get up again until one o'clock and we didn't get out until two! But hey, I'm on holiday! When we finally did get out, we headed over to Geneva. What should have been quite a short journey turned into a marathon, with detour after detour. (In fact, there have been lots of them this week especially down the Val d'Aulps, though presumably the summer is the only practical time to work on the roads. A pain nevertheless.

Anyway, lots of traffic in Geneva, a real pain getting parked, but I did eventually park quite close to the city centre, and we had a nice mooch around the shops. I'd forgotten what an appealing city Geneva is! The last time I was there I just needed to get away, and booked something without looking twice, ending up in a hotel slap bang in the middle of the red-light district. This time, we kept to the shopping routes! Alice found a large toy shop. Not quite Hamleys but good nevertheless. Of course, I had to buy her something...

No trip to Geneva would be complete without checking out the Jet d'Eau, and we ended up having a lovely stroll in the park alongside the lake. Some very good photographs, even moreso since the forecast grey weather actually turned out sunny. Apart from the storm Tuesday evening, we have been really lucky with the weather.

This luck continued again yesterday, with brilliant blue skies once more. One thing I have been following quite closely this week has been the weather, since being up in the mountains it is obviously best to keep the good weather for the outdoor things. From the start of the week, Thursday had been forecast as one of the best day, and I had a full plan for the day. I gee-ed everyone up and we were out of the house for ten o'clock for the short journey across to the next valley. Destination was a télésiege I'd seen on the map named Mossettes, which went up to the 2277m peak, the Pointe des Mossettes, just over the Swiss border. From there, there should be some excellent views on a fine day. And so we headed over that way, along the valley then up, once again, past the Lac de Montriond and the Cascade d'Ardent.

We eventually arrived at a charming Alpine village called Les Lindarets, which had stunning views. Clearly, someone had taken a decision there to generate income by tourism, and the main attraction was a herd of goats roaming the village. Of course, these were a big attraction and the place was rammed full of tourists. Indeed, of about six shops, four must have been souvenir shops (selling, amongst other things, goat food!) and the other two restaurants. But a beautiful setting and great for kids, we had to stop and let Alice feed them. Some good photos.

Still, onward and upward - only another two minutes in this case, to a car park at the foot of the walk to Les Broschaux, the start of the ski lift. Yes, very inconvenient, we had to walk! Still, it had become a beautiful, warm day , and the half-hour walk should have been no problem at all, especially given our stunning surroundings. I'm not sure we'd even got out of the car park before the whining started, "How much is two kilometers?" I wouldn't mind, but from halfway there it was even possible to see Les Brochaux and the ski lift, so that should have spurred her on. As it was, however, she simply gave up. Bad parents that we are, we were damned if she was going to spoil our day, so we gave her the car keys and headed on.

And boy, was it worth it! The ride up to the top was listed as 8 minutes' duration but it felt longer, further and higher! Eventually I sttod on the summit, a singleton by now (Jacqueline gets scared unless she's actually inside a cabin, so sitting on an open seat was just that bit too much! In any case, there was lots to see at Les Brochaux, and a café to keep her occupied.) So there I was at the summit, with mountains in all directions. Mont Blanc was clearly visible in the distance, unbelievable from here that it could be more than 2½km higher than us. Also clearly visible, les Dents du Midi and les Dents Blanches (which weren't very blanches!). (I must have mentioned the GPS gizmo I got for my camera - this even has an electronic compass to show your heading. That would have made identifying the different peaks very straightforward. But unfortunately my camera does not support this, only the current position, so I'm going to have to try to remember the relative positions of the peaks, and look them up when I get home. Even then, the high-detail map I have of the area is the French IGN map, and stops abruptly at the Swiss border. So, I can feel a trip to Stanfords coming on!).

Anyway, I won't talk any more about boring old mountain tops, but will publish some photos and let them speak for themselves.

Back to Les Brochaux, where Jacqueline was waiting for me in the café complete with a cold bottle of Evian (what else?). I stroll back to the car (much shorted when going downhill!) to see the enfant terrible. She'd obviously had the opportunity to calm down a little bit and was in quite a good humour by the time we got back. Best of all, because we'd left so early it was still only about a quarter-to-two. Because we were in the vicinity, we headed over to Avoriaz. By the time we got there we were unfortunately too late for lunch, so ended up having a sandwich from the supermarket while we stopped to take the place in. Avoriaz is basically a custom-built resort and was very quiet (although totally open) in the summer. I'm sure it comes into its own in the winter, but this "manufactured" feel was not for us. We left after barely a couple of hours.

Back down the winding pass into Morzine, it must be said that Avoriaz looks far better when viewed from afar, perched on the cliff-top, than it does close up. Because we'd left there sooner than I thought, I let Jacqueline drive us back to the Lac de Montriond for a crepe and and ice cream. We stopped at the same café as the other day, though of course then it was becoming stormy, and now it was bright sunshine. The lake was full of kayaks, even the odd (brave!) swimmer. During our gouter, we hatched a plan to head down into Thonon for a trip to Decathlon.

Despite its small size, Decathlon kept us occupied for a good hour, and I ended up spending €180 (which makes something like €400 in Decathlons so far, although we visited the Decathlon in Dijon with a stated aim of buying Alice some new clothes. My Fidelity Card will be going into overdrive!) Yesterday, the main spends were some luggage (a replacement for an old and battered bag), some walking shoes for Alice, and some North Face walking trousers for me. The strangest purchase was a present for Alice, who for some reason had decided it would be a good idea to own some goggles, snorkle and flippers! So, having explained that €27 was a lot of money, and that this would probably be her main present of the holiday.... (all to no avail - she wasn't going to budge).

Hopefully she'll make use of them next week at the seaside, though if I remember Le Touquet rightly she'll have a right old hike before she can even get them wet!

Ah well, our last day today, and we're going to head down to the lake and maybe take a boat trip. I'd better get in the shower - taking care not to damage Alice's diving equipment on the way in, if course!!!

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