Tuesday August 30: Chamonix France
A Mellow Day
This is our last day and a quiet one. We don't have too much scheduled. We slept about an hour later than normal, then came down and had breakfast. The sky was cloudier, with a chance of showers in the afternoon.
In the morning, we went over to visit the Mer de Glace or Sea of Ice. This is a large glacier. We took the cog railroad higher up than I expected. That put us on the side of the glacial valley. Then we took a small tram down the side of the valley. From that point down to the glacier was about 500+ steps. The reason for all of the steps was that when they built the gondola, it came out at the level of the glacier, but over time, the glacier has shrunk, so each year they add more steps. They also have to dig a new tunnel each year.
Amy didn't want to have to go back up all those steps, so she went down a short way and then returned to the top. Sam and I went to the bottom and went in the "ice cave". This was similar to the Ice Palace at Glacier Paradise, but not as nice. It was drippy, particularly near the opening, and it only had one piece of somewhat crude art. There was a table with benches, and a little room with windows.
When we were coming down, we saw some people walking across the top of the glacier. I was wondering if we could do that, but no. They said if we went off trail they were not responsible, and that the only people who should do this was mountaineers.
Amy wouldn't have liked going up the steps, but it wasn't too bad for Sam and myself. It was sort of like going up the steep trail at Mount Watchusett. We were a bit warm after the ascent, so we went in to the restaurant and got an ice-cream each. After that, we took the train down.
It was almost noon, so we stopped for a light lunch. We didn't want anything big, because we wanted to have a good dinner. I just got a chocolate crepe, Amy got a hot dog, and Sam got a Panini. I expected the crepe to have a better quality chocolate, but it was basically just a large pancake with some chocolate syrup on it. While we ate, we had fun tossing crumbs to the sparrows. Sam actually got one to fly up to his hand, grab a bit of bread, and then fly off.
After this, Sam went back to the hotel while I went with Amy to wander a nearby cemetery. I ran out of interest long before Amy did and went back to the hotel. Along the way, I could feel little spits of rain. I exchanged the jackets for rain gear and went out to wander. There was a brief bit of light rain--enough for me to open up the umbrella, but then it stopped, and a bit later it got warm and sunny. Not that it matters, but I found the place where I stayed for my summit climb.
I returned to the hotel room and wrote this up. We still have about 4-5 hours to kill before dinner, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do to fill that time.
The rest of the day was spent killing time. I played wordscape on my phone. At one point, I went out for a walk around town with Amy. Halfway through that, it started sprinkling, and then it started to rain. It was definitely umbrella time. It was sort of interesting to see these shallow troughs in the middle of the walkway turned into small streams. The rain basically ended the walk, and we returned to the hotel as expeditiously as possible.
I played some more wordscape, and then I noticed that it was partly sunny again. I went for another walk, and this time I went around the little pond in the center of town. Just north of the pond there is a field that I think is a normal landing spot for the paragliders. There were a pair of wind-socks on the edge of the field.
I got back at 6:30, took a quick shower, and then we headed off to dinner. This time, we were good and hungry. Sam got a ham and cheese pie, which looked like a slice of quiche and a small salad that Amy ate. Sam got some sort of pork ribs that looked and tasted really good. Amy and I got meat on a hot rock. I had wanted to try that ever since my previous trips, but it always had a two person minimum, so I couldn't try it. This was finally my chance. In this case, there were three types of meat: beef, chicken, and duck.
Now I can say that I've had it, although other than the novelty, there isn't much to recommend it. Unlike the one I had in Grindelwald, this "hot stone" was a metal tray over two cans of sterno.
Sam bailed and left for the hotel while Amy and I split some sorbet for desert and I had a small coffee which in theory (and hopefully) was decaf. At the end of dinner, they had some problems running my credit card. I was afraid that I had hit my credit limit, and the card was now rejecting purchases, but apparently it was an issue with their machine and not the card itself, because they finally ran it through.
After we left, we found that it was raining again, so it was time to break out the umbrellas. Back at the hotel, we opened the window and door to cool the place off. It was neat to hear several peals of thunder. Unfortunately, someone was apparently smoking on a nearby balcony, and it stank up our room. We closed the doors for a while, but after a while we opened them again to air the place out.
We have a fairly late start tomorrow. I think we get picked up at the hotel around 11 or so. On the down side, we won't get home until about 11pm, which will be about 6am Chamonix time. Still, we'll be able to sleep at that point instead of starting a new day.
Right now, with the window/doors open, we can hear a steady rain and occasional thunder. It sounds really nice, as we are warm and dry inside, and not stuck out in the rain or in a tent.