Skiing in the Alps

After a week of urban sophistication, we took a train to the French Alps.   All very proper and organized were we, with tickets pre-purchased and seat assignments.  I remember back to when I lived in Vienna during college with a Eurail Pass that enabled me to jump aboard any train going anywhere.  This gave me an incredible amount of freedom.

Let’s go to Rome for the weekend!  Sure.

Can’t find a room in Florence?  Find some train going somewhere and sleep aboard.

Run to the train station at the end of the school day on Thursday and find somewhere interesting to go to.

Very flex.    And yet.  I have told Hans the story of our last-minute-decision journey to visit our Stanford friends in Florence on the overnight train, only to find that the day we decided to travel was a national school holiday in Italy.  The train from Vienna was not crowded, but as soon as we hit Italy, every seat we tried to claim was already reserved.  Lots of moving, finally into the tiny isle flip down seats.  And ultimately, at around 2 am, into the stainless-steel overhead luggage rack in the isle.  At least I was horizontal.

So we’re not traveling like college students, and yet … we still had an experience that was all too common back when I was 20.   It goes something like this.

Train stops.

“Oh my God. This is our station!”

“Get your stuff, Hans!”

“What Mommy?”

“We’ve got to get off.  Now!”

Grabbing of coats and gloves and scarves and hurredly putting away the pencils and magazine featuring all kinds of cars … and my laptop … and where is your coat Hans … and hurry, we need to get all our bags … two in the luggage at one end of the car and the other at the other end of the car … and picking up the remnants of lunch … and throwing the bags off the train.  And wait, do you have the ukulele?   Is Daddy off?

Courchevel, France is just over the border from Switzerland and Italy, and is very much tucked into the Alps of France.   We chose this area because the skiing is supposed to be wonderful, and Courchevel is connected with two other valleys, offering 4 major areas to ski and more mountain than we can cover in a week.   The major difference in skiing in Europe is that most of the mountain is above the tree line.  That means that you can really pretty much chose wherever you want to go, offering a ton of options for fresh snow.  It’s great for someone who is uptight about getting lost in an area they have never been, because you can always see where you want to go and always (pretty much) keep all members of your party in sight.   Hans discovered and is a huge fan of the pom lift, which is like a flat disk on a long pole that fits between your legs and hauls you up the mountain.


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