Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day Update

yes, I realize fully that I have not written in a while, and I have resolved rather that today is going to be a day for the people I love, and I love my tens of readers (any number greater than ten is considered a ten of something, get it?).

So I'll tell you all about my vacation post-Butler. I promise it will be significantly less pretentious. I flew from Schoenefeld to Geneva, where Philippe picked me up

The next day we kind of messed around in the morning, so we were a bit stressed and rushed to get skiis, which was a mistake, because--wouldn't you know it--the rental place that we went to didn't have skiis for "debutantes" as we beginners are called, so we had to go to another place, and we didn't get to the slopes at Les Mosses till about 2:30, which is dreadfully late, since the sun really goes down at like 4:30, and it's too dark to see decent distances on the slopes after 4. the idea of the day, however, was not to get in the most time on the slopes but rather to get a feeling for skiing again, and I have to say, I fell right into the right mode. Remember that one slope that was really long that I fell on last time? Totally kicked its butt! And I was so casual about it too, just chill, almost easy! We did another slope after that too, one where I could glide really fast; I even went faster than Phil (it was because of the skis, which were amazing and pretty new), which he yelled was "NOT POSSIBLE!" as I flew past. I'm pleased to say the end was quite hard, and I did well, until Phil went back for the car, and I got ambitious on my skiis and...well...kind of fell and had to pick myself up, which was hard.
That night we saw one of Phil's buddies playing in a moderately Latin band at this charming pub called Chorus. The band reminded me vaguely of something James would have been in a while ago, with the players singing in "Spanish" for the chorus while a really enthused singer played--no joke--cowbell with all her heart. The musicians were quite talented though, but we left early so I could get some sleep.

I needed sleep because the next day was the big day--skiing on a glacier! I liked the opportunity because, to paraphrase Stephen Colbert, my grandchildren will not know what a glacier is. It's also a deal where you can take a train there (it takes a while but is a really pretty ride), and your lift ticket is included in the price of the train, so it was a pretty good deal.
trying to show off my boots, but I just ended up looking hella-cute

Once we got to the base of the glacier, we had to take a seriously scary cable car to the top, and going up at the same time were this Kuwaiti couple on their honeymoon, rather funny since he wasn't able to ski, and she wouldn't be allowed to anyway. I think they went walking around and shopping (wrhuh?) at the top in the ski store. We, however, went down a rather scary beginning slope (it's ALWAYS so and then it gets better) and then on to the other pistes. I never repeated one and I actually didn't do so badly. I spent a lot of time working on not snow-plowing all the way down, which I am getting better about. The pistes were massive and broad, and the snow was powdery and well kept, just great!
video

Then, however, like in a movie, in just seconds the clouds descended, which was terrifying. They came billowing down and cut our visibility by a LOT. I was pretty scared, but there weren't a lot of people on the slopes, so why not keep going. I had to just be VERY aware of where the edges of the pistes were, and that was a bit difficult. I was following Philippe all the way down, trying to keep him in my sites.


It was actually quite exciting, and we would have our faces, hair, and hats covered in frost by the time we reached the bottoms, so we looked like grizzled mountaineers. The clouds were also not consistent, coming and going till we couldn't tell what was going to happen next. It did get a little scary after a while, so we decided to head back to base, which was also quite fun, but the visibility was getting worse and worse, so we were glad we chose to go back when we did.

video

We had lunch on the glacier, where some poor souls were still coming up, and then we headed back down the mountain on the cable car

(the alternative would have been a black-level slope, which...no)

and we spent the rest of the afternoon on slightly smaller, friendlier, but less powdery slopes.
The next day we just kind of chilled around town and then went to the resort at Saillons, getting caught in a HELLACIOUS(and totally unexpected) snow storm on the way back, and Sunday we went to brunch and came back to Berlin via train. It was a short vacation, but I think I got quite a bit out of it, wouldn't y'all agree?

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