Winter holiday

Me on my new skis
Me on a snowboard!

A good start to the year: on Jan 5, Herman and I left for two weeks of winter sports in the French Alps. Destination was the Trois Vallees, the world's largest skiing area. We have visited this area before, but we always enjoy skiing here, and the large area means that you won't get bored quickly - even during a two-week stay.

We were especially looking forward to skiing this year, since we had bought our very first set of skiing gear in November of 2012. Skis for me, and snowboard gear for Herman, who does both but prefers boarding. We were all amped up to try them out on some real snow as soon as we arrived Saturday evening... but the gods of airline travel decided differently. On arrival at Geneva airport, our ski bag failed to turn up. After waiting for a long time - longer than reasonable, but you're in denial at that point - we had to face the fact that the airline had lost our bag on the very complicated itinirary of one direct flight from Rotterdam to Geneva. Nooo!

On top of that, because we had waited so long and our plane had already been delayed 30 mins, and because we now had to go to lost luggage and file a report, we missed our transfer to Meribel as well. The next bus was fully booked, so the first transfer that could take us did not leave until four hours later. So after filing the report with the bagage tracking company, we had three hours to kill in completely uninteresting Geneva airport. Oh, and of course we didn't have any money, euros not being accepted in Switzerland.

The last problem was solved easily with a credit card, but it is safe to say that this was not the start of the holiday we had hoped for. Luckily, the rest of our vacation was great. We got our ski bag back after three days (it had ended up in Salzburg), and we were both very happy with our gear. Weather was unseasonably warm for the first few days, so we could sit in the sun and ski without even needing a scarf. Then it snowed for a few days, giving is a lovely fresh layer and some exciting skiing in the middle of a snow storm. The rest of the time the weather was changeable but fine, and fresh snow kept falling (very important when so many people ski the same slopes).

I must say I really enjoyed being away for two weeks. Previously, we had always gone one week, and it always seemed too short. This year, we had plenty of time, and thus a day of heavy snow or bad visibility is not such a disappointment. We used our time well, too, visiting all remote locations we could find on the map. There is a Trois Vallees challenge of visiting all of a set of special checkpoints in the area. If you achieve this, you are awarded a certificate of 'Connaisseur des Trois Vallees'. This is a nice way of making it interesting for skiers to visit some remote or hard-to-reach areas, and we really enjoyed it. Especially the small, lower villages, where you would never go otherwise, were a pleasant surprise: very nice in atmosphere and architecture. At the end of our stay, we had indeed visited all checkpoints, and got our badges of merit.

On a final note: I tried snowboarding for the first time this year. Lots of fun, but wow, does your body take a beating! After one afternoon I had a bruised ass, a sore neck, and aching arms and shoulders. Yes, learning to snowboard is a workout for the upper body! But it was great, and I definitely want to practise it some more in the future. And of course, I had to take a picture as proof that I snowboarded. BTW, how cool is my suit?! It was Herman's when he was 14 years old :-D More pictures here.