Viper Squad Ten

[ Sunday, February 15, 2004 ]

Achingly beautiful memories
Starbuck [21:30] Comments: 0 []
Well, I have finally returned from my week-long hiatus from these pages, tired and battered, but content.

Yes, I have just returned from a wonderful week of skiing in the French resort of Val D'Isere with the missus-and-in-laws-to-be, and I feel very much at peace with the world. Nothing can drag me from my seas of tranquility - neither the pain from my badly bruised ribs, nor the tiredness accreted jaggedly across my synaptic circuitry throughout the course of the long journey home And after getting up at 5 a.m. for the one-hour flight from Chambery that was scheduled to arrive in Birmingham at 12.30 p.m., and 21 hours later following lengthy delays, a mystery-tour bus journey to Lyon to supposedly board a newly-chartered Jumbo Jet, yet more delays, and no hard information from Crystal Holidays or Excel Airways along the way, only to then have to wait for the baggage handlers to overcome "operational problems"... well, I guess I'd be forgiven for being a tad frayed around the edges. But no!

I have the juices of zen-ility seeping out of every pore right now. I shut my eyes, and I see slopes, gradients, contours to subconsciously adapt to, postures to subconsciously adopt. I see snow-draped mountain tops, blinding-white against the deep blue sky, a stream of silvery frosted particles, lifted from the triangular peaks, drifting in the breeze. I see the halogen-lit mass of the Face Olympique De Bellevarde towering in grayscale above the village, thrusting up towards the twinkling strip of stars high above the valley. I see the breathtaking view from the Glacier De Pissailles, a freezeframe of a turbulent ocean of clouds, breaking against the mountainsides below.

I had a few reservations when I first arrived. The room that we were sharing with the brother-&-sister-in-law-to-be in the Hotel Rond Point des Pistes was fairly cramped for four people, and the "sound-proof partition" dividing the room into two seemed to amplify rather than nullify every last breath and utterance. And on our first stroll around town on Saturday, I was struck by the amount of drink-and-drug addled kids screaming and puking their way around the centre - it was just like being at home in Leamington. Thank God for the vomit-hiding properties of a snowfall. However, the room turned out to be fine, the shock perhaps being due to the magnificent opulence of our previous skiing holiday's apartment Vail, USA. (And what a location the Rond Point was - right at the base of the Solaise and Bellevarde pistes and cable cars. No pisting about on a bus for us this year.) And the messed-up bingers evident on Saturday must've been too knackered to mess-up much further as the week went on, and the place turned out to be very pleasant, in a wintry, Christmas-trees-and-pine-cabin-buildings kinda way.

Nope, it was pretty perfect.

And most importantly, the skiing conditions in the whole Espace Killy region were perfect. The snow was deep and still thickly falling as we arrived at the resort on Saturday night, but for the rest of the week the skies were brilliant blue, save one day of flat-lighted whiteout midway through the week to add some variety.

For the record, the best restaurant of the holiday - Le Lodge. Lovely proper French food on the Menu Du Jour in the restaurant upstairs, nicely clubby in the basement. And for those entertaining father-in-law-to-be-playing-on-the-Playstation-2-in-grimy-conditions moments, Bentley's B@r. Heh!

And now, its back to normality, and Val D'Isere already seems a lifetime away, the holiday a crystal-clear dream. But as with all these experiences, my normality feels a whole lot richer than it did before...

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