Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vive la France!!

As I write this, it is Thursday morning (at least I think it is) in Bessans, France, a tiny little French village in the Alps. I obviously haven’t had a good look around in that we didn’t arrive here until 2am (5pm Wednesday Vancouver time) but it looking out the window, it is a beautiful sunny day.

The trip over was certainly long, but for the most part, not hard. As being a potential athlete for the Paralympic Games, Air Canada has given all of us upgrade certificates and we were lucky enough to get bumped up to first class for the nine-hour flight to London. I have never flown first class, but wow, it was nice! The seats folded out flat so we all got in a little shuteye, which was good because we wouldn’t get to sleep again until we actually got to Bessans about 26 hours later.

Upon arrival in Zurich, we met up with the rest of our group. It took awhile to get our rental cars in that we had requested a minivan and a station wagon, both of which online looked big enough to handle all our skis bags, but when we actually saw the station wagon, it was more like a small hatchback and certainly not big enough to take three skis bags! Even with two vehicles, it still was a tight fit with all our luggage and ski bags. Eventually though everything was packed and we headed towards the ausfarht (exit) of the Flughafen Zurich (airport). Seven hours later, (and no wrong turns – good job Harris!!) we arrived in Bessans. The trip really was quite uneventful, but entertaining. For the longest time, the three of us riding in the back of the car, Mary, Margarita and myself, thought that Andrea, our front seat navigator, have a major obsession with hand sanitizer because we kept getting these really strong wafts of alcohol only to find out about halfway through the trip that it wasn’t Andrea, but the windshield washer fluid. Mary wasn’t convinced and rolled her window all the way down so she could stick her head out for a sniffer test and was happy to report that it didn’t smell like alcohol outside the car. This had all of us howling, but after being up for so long, these are the sorts of things you find really funny….

Once we actually got to Bessans, priority number one was to get to bed. So I can’t say that I had a wild and crazy birthday, but I did get a really nice toque and scarf from Andrea (thanks Andrea!).

Andrea and I got out for a nice 90-minute ski this afternoon. The trails are beautiful and loop back and forth along the valley where Bessans is located. It is absolutely breathtaking, but I was definitely feeling the after-effects of the long travel day and coming to 1900 metres altitude so I am happy to have another five days to adjust before I have to race. Plus,I woke up this morning with a sore throat so I need to be extra careful to get in enough rest or I could end up sick. Not a good idea at this stage of the game….

The downside of coming early is that we just found out today that our accommodations and meals are going to cost us each 100 Euros per day, or about $150 CDN. Ouch! And there are lots of incidentals we weren’t expecting to have to cover, including paying for our bed sheets, bath towels and toilet paper. I’ve travelled a lot in Europe and never experienced these sorts of charges. Not much I could have done  about it anyway – my suitcases were so full coming over that don’t think there was any way I could have also jammed in some sheets and towels! And besides, I know that by coming early, I will race better in that I will have more time to adjust.

Well, it’s 8:30pm and I am now off to bed… to follow once I download them off the camera!


  1. Happy Birthday Courtney

    It sure is nice to be able to read your blog.


  2. Hey, it's Manninagh. I can't figure out how to post comments without being "anonymous"
    Couldn't help noticing that there is a sign marked "Salle de fartage" behind you in your photo. What exactly is a "Salle de fartage" and what does one do there? I could hazard a guess, but I'd probably be mistaken...