Fulfilling the Dream/Waking Up

Hi everyone. I’m writing from my parent’s home in the snow-covered town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, after arriving here late last night from France, where I got to go skiing in Chamonix for a couple of days and spent a day in Paris. I was also able to meet up with my brother Zack and his awesome wife Sara, who were only just beginning their holiday in Europe. It was a great way to end an awesome trip.

Skiing in Chamonix

So, after my flight from Stockholm to Geneva (after a late night of farewells and a night bus from Karlstad to Stockholm, see My Final Weeks of Swedish Living), I found out that Zack and Sara had been delayed on their flight from Chicago to Frankfurt. So, after six hours of me hanging out in the Geneva airport, they finally arrived, tired from traveling but still stoked to be in Europe. We then got on a bus to go to Les Houches, France, just down the valley from Chamonix, and then hauled everything I had lived with for the last five months (plus their luggage for the next two weeks) ten minutes down the road to l’Hôtel du Bois. The staff at this hotel were incredibly friendly (as in as nice as Scandinavians) and took great care of us. I highly recommend the place.

Zack and I hauling far too much luggage.

The next day we woke up to about a half meter of fresh snow that had covered most of the valley. Since we were staying in Les Houches, we decided to go skiing there that day, and to ski at Brevent the next day, which the hotel staff told us would be the opening day for that station. The skiing at Les Houches was great, and even though it is the Buttermilk of the Chamonix valley, we still had a ton of fun in the trees with all the fresh snow, and we also took in all the amazing views of the valley.

Aguille Verte
Zack and Down-Valley
Myself and Mont Blanc

The next day we got up early to pack our stuff and then catch the bus to the town of Chamonix, and then walk to Brevent. The hotel staff let us store our stuff at the hotel as well (like I said, it was an amazingly great stay), and then we tried to find the bus station to go into town. We ended up walking right past the station, and then the bus drove right past us a little further down the road. The biggest problem with Chamonix is the bus system, it only runs like once every half hour. So, we used the hour and half we had to plan out the evening in terms of Zack and Sara returning their rental gear, me re-packing my skis, and then making it to St. Gervais to catch the night train to Paris. After we got all this figured out, we caught the next bus to Chamonix, and then started walking towards Brevent. We were about 100 meters from the base of the Gondola when some British guys walking the other direction kindly informed us that Brevent was to open the next day, and was closed still. So, after getting a little more info, we had to wait another hour until a bus came for Les Grands Montets, where we arrived at about 1:00PM (all this after getting up early to try to get a full day in). The clouds had also moved in so the views were not as visible as they were from Les Houches, but the snow was fun and the terrain had a lot more to it, so we still had a great half-day.

Zack, Sara, and a closed-Brevent
Zack and I walking through Chamonix
The three of us at Les Grands Montets
Dusk waiting for the train in Chamonix

I was reading through my past entries in my personal travel journal, and I came across an entry from the summer of 2006 when I got to visit Chamonix and even went paragliding off of Brevent. One of the things I wrote though was that visiting Chamonix in the Summer was like getting the “keys to a Ferrari without an engine.” It has always been a dream of mine to ski here, and to finally shred some pow and looking at Aguille Verte and Aguille du Midi standing steep and tall above snow and clouds was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. It was a dream come true.

Paris in a Day

From Chamonix, we took a train to St. Gervais, and then a night train to Paris. We arrived at Gare d’Austerlitz early Saturday morning, and then had to make our way to the Ibis in Monmarte. Hauling the 70 kilos of luggage that I had lived with for the last 5 months in the Parisian Metro was a miserable experience. After checking in, we made our way to the Centre Pompidou, which is the main modern museum in Paris, and was one of the places I had not seen there. Here are some pictures of the visit.

The Inside-Out Building
Probably my favorite work there
More modern art

After the Centre Pompidou we made our way to Notre Dame to meet up with Alex and Christopher, two of our family friends who live in Paris. With them we walked around the Latin Quarter for a while, taking in the lights and stopping by a few pubs and then some dinner. We then parted ways with the boys and went to the Champs Elysee. I’ve been to Paris many times before, but I had never actually seen many of the sights at night. The night we spent on the Champs Elysee definitely demonstrated why Paris is “The City of Lights.”

The Christmas Market
Fountain and Reflections
Arc de Triumph

On the way to the Arc, we stopped by the Palais Royal, where there was an exhibition going on called “Dans la nuit, des Images,” which consisted of probably 100 projectors and video screens playing artistic movies all to the tune of pumping techno music. It was free, and definitely a super cool treat to see.

Inside “Dans la nuit, des images”

We then made it to the Arc de Triumph, which is easily one of my favorite top three places on earth. Afterwards, we made it to the Eiffel Tower, and then back to Monmarte. The next day I was up early to take the RER to Charles De Gaulle International Airport where I flew to Washington Dulles, Pittsburgh, and then Denver International, where I was greeted by my parents, as well as my wonderful girlfriend Darcy and her family (she had arrived fresh from Thailand only a few hours before me). After a 3 hour drive, I find myself at my parents’ house in Glenwood, slightly jet-lagged.

My amazing study-abroad experience has almost fully ended (I still have 2 papers to write before January 20th). It was easily the most amazing experience of my life, and I wish I could go back every time I think about it. But, even though my international travels have ended for a while, I will probably keep this blog updated about once a month or so about the traveling I do around the USA, especially for the skiing I do. So please check back every now and then if you’d like to see how I’m doing. And thank you very much for reading all of my terribly long posts! I shall end this one now with a picture of me in front of the Arc de Triumph. Tack! Merci! Thanks!


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