A honeymoon to France

Europe - the Dream Honeymoon Destination
Going abroad for a honeymoon is the norm amongst engineers, the next generation middle class who aspire to splurge. Europe, particularly around Switzerland, is the most sought after place in the summers. Roman or Spanish beauties are probably the next best choices during colder seasons as they provide some Mediterranean respite.

In our case the honeymoon, Err.. I should say the second one in two months after I tied the holy thread on her and we walked around the holy fire. There was an official trip being planned to send me to customer site in Grenoble, France. The trip was almost going to be at the expense of my first honeymoon, but luck favored me and it got postponed to January 2011, a good time for planning the second honeymoon.

I would skip the official part of the trip, lest this post becomes too lengthy. I will post that here later.

After 5 days of customer visit (for me) and confined to the hotel room (for my wife), we decided to spend the weekend exploring stuff near Grenoble.

Options not considered
- Geneva, Switzerland. We could cover that to claim we went to Swiss. But it would be a typical commercial city with museums and parks.

- Milan, Italy. We could not find out what we would like there.

- Marselle, France. A nice coast along the Mediterranean. But little far from Grenoble.

- Mont Blanc, France. The highest peak in Alps. Again it was far off and highest peak in the peak of winters!! Oh no.. we would be frozen.

Finally we chose to go for two short ones so that we can return to our hotel in Grenoble.

Chamrousee was a small hill town at an hour's drive from Grenoble. Public transport in Europe is probably the best in the world. They have well maintained fleet of buses, comparable to the Volvos we have in Bangalore, which turn up at the bus stops within a minute's margin of what is mentioned in the schedule. We took the bus no. 6010 at 9.45AM bus from Grenoble's main bus station, I dont remember what it is called.

Chamrousse is famous for the ski slopes which attract a lot of tourists and professional skiers. It is also the place where Winter Olympics was held in 1968. The bus ride was pleasant and scenic as it winds through the hills. At times you could see the grenoble town down in the valley. At times you would pass through dense vegetation. Overall it seemed like travelling in Himachal Pradesh (Why not!! India's natural beauty is no less than Europe, just that we dont know how to maintain it "swachh")

At the Chamrousse bus station, you would be greeted by a wonderful scene of snow white beyond the town center. Walking around the place we realised there is nothing else to do there other than SKI.. Of course we should have guessed that!! But you know what, both of us didnt know how to ski. And this was not India where you would have many touts rushing to you when they know you are the gullible tourist!

So here were our options
1. Hire skiing equipment
2. Take tickets so that you can ski on the slopes
3. Optionally hire a ski trainer for EUR 100 for an hour

Skiing equipment was available for same cost for whole day!! And as Indians you could guess what we did. Yes we decided to learn skiing the hard way, ourselves. After few failed attempts, crashing into the ice both on our faces and bums, we asked around for some help. And help was plenty. This part of the world seems to be full of skiers. Men, women, boys and girls, some as young as 4 yrs, were swooshing past us skillfully balancing themselves. Elders were going down the slopes with kids between their legs, coaching them I guess.

A nice gentleman who could speak English (mind you this is France and majority dont know the language you could speak) told us that we were in the wrong part of the ski resort. Here the slopes were too steep for beginners. And we were sort of mid way on the hill!!!

We could have traced back our steps and taken the bus down the slopes to the beginners area. Nah, thats not fun. Lets walk through the snow! So with skies and sticks in our hands (sometimes over the shoulders, damn they are so heavy), we trudged down the slope - carefully avoiding the experts who might be laughing at our plight.

The beginners area was pretty empty apart from few kids along with a trainer. The long walk with heavy snow boots had tired us. We dumped the skies and emptied the snacks that we had carried. Oh man where is lunch!! My wife would have cursed in her mind, but put up smiling faces and beautiful poses for the numerous photographs that I clicked with snow all around.

Now the real fun time. We spent almost an hour (remember the trainer!) and learnt to balance reasonable enough to enjoy skiing few meters before we would slide down. For beginners, an hour is probably the limit when you start getting bored. And we were hungry too. This time we took the bus to the town center to return the equipment.

VEGETARIANS BEWARE: All that we could find there for satiating our hunger was Margarita Pizza. For those who dont know, it is the cheapest ones on Dominos/Pizza Hut menus in India that you might have never ordered in your life. It has lots of tomato sauce and cheese spread on the pizza base. Absolutely no VEG toppings available!

Nevertheless we managed to finish off a 12'' pizza with a bottle of coke that was cheaper than water. Of course beer was even cheaper but we dint venture into that category.. Shiva Shiva.. :)

We got onto the last bus at 1845 back to Grenoble leaving behind the eerie pines and snow, turning blue, as the night set in.

Previous day's adventure kept us under the quilt for a longer time on the Sunday morning. Today's destination was Annecy. A nearby town with a beautiful lake. I dont know what else is there to describe Annecy. We didnt know that description when we started. Today's mode of transport was the train - the ones that became famous in India after DDLJ pictured them.

There was no breakfast at the hotel on Sundays. So we tried our luck to find vegetarian stuff at the train station. A bad decision! We picked few croissants, muffins and fruits and got into the train. This too was an hour's journey.

"Find the lake" was the puzzle for the day. Damn the French! Cant you guys learn some basic English. Add to it, the weird stares from them when we ask in an alien language. We had to ask a dozen people to eventually get the directions to the lake.

Okay. We found the lake. Now what next. Boating is one of my wife's favourite activity. So we walked around trying to find the ticketing office of the boating club. There were many boats lined up on the lake front, so we were hopeful. Alas! This week was their annual maintenance shutdown.

Frustrated and not knowing what else to do, we rested on the lake front watching the ducks enjoying the warm sunny day. A saviour came along. This guy had come on-site from India and was wandering alone with a map of Annecy. He was in dire need of company and we needed a guide.

His map had the major tourist locations - Palais de I'lsle and Chateau de Annecy. We walked and walked and walked. Blame it on our bad day, both places were shutdown. As a solace, I bought my wife a necklace from the Sunday street market. The "ammachi" was winding up her shop but was in no mood for a bargain.

We decided to call it a day and headed back to the train station. On the way we found a Subway, which will prove to be our staple diet for the rest of our France trip. Two 6'' Veggie delight please, with all the veggies on it!

We were back at Grenoble by 1630. There is a cable car ride to The Bastille, a little fort on top of a mountain. It is the most notable tourist spot in Grenoble, notable for the spectacular view of the town and surrounding mountains. And our bad luck continues... The cable car is shut for upgradation. We walked up the trail till sunset, and then back to the hotel.

Overall it was a good weekend for me, walking around 10kms. Poor SL, she gave me good company without too much fuss.

Next weekend we are off to Paris!!


prassree said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
prassree said…
Ammachi and bargaining....ROFL!!

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