Friday, December 20, 2013

Chamonix, Part 2

Ok, I'm back with the rest of the Chamonix pictures : )  First off, I thought Mom would like to see the apartment we stayed in. 

It was a little bitty 2-bedroom place, so there's the dining/living area.  I wouldn't have picked gray to go with those wood floors but it actually kinda works.

And there's the view from the doors to the balcony back toward the kitchen, and you can just barely see one of the bedrooms on the left.  That bedroom is right next to the door, and then the one that Lee and I shared is behind the kitchen.  The bedrooms were very small and cramped so I wouldn't want to live here forever, but it was fine for a long weekend stay.

Here's the view from the bedroom window, looking to the left.

And to the right.

This is the view from the balcony and the bottom floor on that building is a bakery that we went to for breakfast every day.

I didn't go look to see if this statue had a sign or anything, I just thought it was kinda neat-looking.

There's my Lee!

I want to say this was the train station but I might be making that up.

Roundabout in front of the maybe-train station, I don't know why but I thought it looked kinda cool.  Maybe it was the clouds and sky behind it with the mountains...I like mountains.

This was on the facade of a restaurant we passed, pretty.

While wandering around the town, we discovered a cemetery so we wandered around in there.  Lee knows I like to walk around cemeteries...he thinks it's a weird and creepy habit, but he humored me.  So now we've wandered around cemeteries in France, Ireland, Scotland, England, and New Orleans.

I took pictures of a few things in the cemetery that I thought were pretty or interesting.

We did notice a number of memorial markers for people who were between 17 and 25 when they died, which we surmised was probably due to accidents in the mountains.  Not just skiing; we found a memorial for a pair of guys from Croatia and Serbia who died in the summertime, so they must have been climbing.

Wow, I'm kinda ending up the pictures on a bummer note, aren't I?  Well, Chamonix was pretty, and it was cold but I have my new bright green jacket to keep me warm...Lee decided a couple months ago that I needed a new jacket, so he looked for a waterproof coat for me.  I told him it had to be green which somehow made the search a zillion times more difficult (he says, anyway) but in the end I got my green jacket : )

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chamonix, Part 1

I have two just-bathed doggies totally passed out in the computer room with me.  They just spent 5 days in jail and smelled like kennel when I sprung 'em this morning, so I had to give them baths.  And now I have two not-nearly-so-stinky doggies!  And I'm happy because I missed them.

So, Lee and I spent the weekend in France because he wanted to go snowboarding.  Geez, I sound like a millionaire or something, don't I?  Well, one of his friends is about to move back to the States and he wanted to go boarding one more time, so we went to Chamonix.  It's in France, but the closest airport is in Switzerland, so we flew into Geneva and then hired a van to take us to the apartment we rented in Chamonix.  Our flight out was ridiculously early on Saturday morning and we didn't eat breakfast before we left, then had no time before we met the van people, so by the time we arrived in Chamonix we were starving.  Mike and his uncle took us to a restaurant they'd been to the day prior and we ended up ordering raclette.  What is raclette, you may ask?  This:

It's cheese.  Point of fact, it's a giant wedge of cheese on this funky machine--the two metal plates heat it up like a toaster and then you use the knife to scrape the melted cheese off onto your plate and then put it on a selection of potatoes, ham, pickles, and onions.  Before Saturday, I kinda seriously doubted that there was such a thing as too much cheese.

I was mistaken.

Oh, don't get me wrong, it was totally *fantastic* while we were eating it, but about an hour later our tummies were like TOO MUCH CHEESE...and I'd had French onion soup too, which hello MORE CHEESE!  So I didn't eat breakfast on Saturday, but after having that for lunch, I didn't eat dinner either.

Here's a pic with Lee so you can kinda see how big that chunk of cheese was.  We didn't finish it, even with Mike and his uncle helping a bit.  It was kinda fun to watch the cheese melt onto the plate, though.  Oh, and according to Wikipedia, the locals say not to drink water when you eat raclette because it will supposedly cause the cheese to harden in your stomach and give you indigestion.  Yeah, our waiter didn't mention that, so of course I drank water.  I still wasn't even that hungry on Sunday morning for breakfast, but I ate anyway because buttery French croissant, DUH.

Anyway, after eating more cheese than I thought possible, we walked through the town a bit.

There was a little bit of snow.

If a cactus had babies with regular snow, I think the babies would look like this.

Then we went to the train station...

And bought tickets to go up the mountain to see the glacier, which is called Mer de Glace.  Sadly, that means "Sea of Ice" and not "Sea of Ice Cream" ("glace" is also ice cream en francais).  Though I suppose that after the first few minutes, it wouldn't be fun to go swimming in ice cream either.

Something about this sign doesn't translate.

There's Reeeeee!

And there's a giant mountain.  I don't know how high up we were, but it did seem like it was taking a bit more work to get enough oxygen from breathing while we were up there.  Lee and the other guys went snowboarding the next day and said that they were even higher up than this.  I, on the other hand, was hanging out in my jammies in a snug warm apartment while they were freezing their buns off and getting bruises from falling down the mountain.

Frozen waterfalls!

Proof we were there.

We think that's the ice caves in the glacier.  Usually the train ticket price (which was pretty steep...both the price, and the ride up the mountain actually) includes the ice caves, but they were closed when we were there.  Boo.

That thing that looks like a road in the middle?  It's all ice, and it's the glacier.

One more shot of the mountain 'cause I thought it was pretty.

Obligatory self-portrait.

So here's a view of Chamonix from the train on our way back down the mountain.  It was about a 20-minute ride and I would not be surprised if that train was going at a 30- to 45-degree angle the whole time.  I would definitely NOT want to walk up that mountain.

Anyway, after the glacier and train stuff, we found an area where they had a bunch of kid stuff, like classes to learn how to ski and a luge thing.

So we went on the luge.  It's hard to tell in the pic, but we're in the luge and most of the way up the hill (I didn't take any pictures once we were on the lugey-part of the luge).  It was fun, the thing goes pretty fast and the track was longer than I would have expected.  I think Mike got a picture of all of us on the luge cars but I don't have that yet.

More snowy pics next time.  For now, it's dinnertime, and I'm making spaghetti.  With NO cheese on top!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Med Cruise: Capri

Guess what, guys?  This is the LAST post for cruise pictures!  Ya know, the cruise we took like three months ago.  The last port on the cruise was Rome, but all we had time to do there was to get up really early and get off the boat, then take a train in to Rome and then a cab to the airport.  Note:  if you tell a Roman cabby that you need to get to the airport quickly, DO NOT LOOK while he drives.  Shenanigans.  However, he DID get us to the airport in record time, and no matter what we thought while in transit we didn't die either.

So anyway, our penultimate port was Naples, but we'd heard from several people that the city of Naples is dirty and kinda icky, so we decided to take a ferry out to Capri.  Lee was interested in going to see the Blue Grotto, so we got off the cruise ship and found the ferry to Capri, got off that boat and found the motorboat to go to the grotto, then got off *that* boat and got on a rowboat...ah, I'm ahead of myself.  Here we are on the motorboat.

From the main port on Capri, you have to go around a good bit of the island to get to the grotto.  We discovered after we arrived at the grotto that there were some stairs and stuff coming down from the island, so maybe we should have gotten a moped or something and driven out there.

Lee is your photographer for today, so here's Capri.

And the port.

Ok, so, as I was saying earlier, we paid to take the ferry to Capri, then we paid to take the motorboat out to the Blue Grotto, and then we paid AGAIN to get on a rowboat to go IN the grotto.  This whole thing was a massively expensive tourist trap.

So you get in the rowboat, maybe 3 or 4 people in each boat, and the entrance to the grotto is so low that you have to lay down in the bottom of the boat while the boat dude (I don't think rowboats have captains, do they?  so he's a boat dude) pulls the boat in by a chain hanging in the entrance.  The rock is undercut so that the sun shines through the water from the outside and that's what makes the grotto blue.

Yeah, that's about it.  You get to be in the grotto for under five minutes for the low, low price of 25 euro per couple (that's just the rowboat part of that experience, you have to pay more for the motorboat ride to the grotto).  When we got out of there, we discovered that somehow the setting on the camera had been moved off of aperture, so the pictures didn't turn out nearly as well as we'd hoped.  THEN we were stuck on the motorboat waiting for everyone else to have their turn on the rowboats, and so we're anchored right outside the grotto and bobbing up and down and up and down and my breakfast made a reappearance.  Then Lee felt really bad because he was the one who wanted to go to the grotto and it was SO not worth the money *and* I got seasick on top of that (the only time on the cruise that I got seasick, so yay me), but I figured we were not going to go back to Capri anytime soon so I'd best puke and rally.  I was much better after the boat finally got moving back to the port--it was being anchored and bobbing up and down that got me, not when the boat was actually moving.  So we got back to the port and had zero money because that whole experience was much more moolah than we'd expected, and of course all the ATMs are at the top of the island so instead of taking a nice, sensible cable car, we walked up a lot of stairs.  But we did see some pretty things.

Flowers everywhere.  I like the nice textures in this photo, from the rough stones, to the scrolly door, to the flowers.  Yay Lee, photog extraordinaire.

This is Lee being artsy with the angles.

And here's the view from the top of the island.

I don't look too horrible for someone who was seasick just an hour prior to this, but I should remember not to stand with both my elbows behind me like that.  I look like a brunette Pamela Anderson.

How do you like that building?  No idea what it is, but it's pretty!

I think this is the only empty street in Capri-town.  The whole island is a spendy resort type place, so the town had lots of high-end shops and we wondered why people would pay so much for stuff.

More flowers...

I like this shot.  When we went back down to the port, we decided to take the stairs again (on purpose this time, since we did get cash from the ATM on top of the mountain) just because it was a pretty walk and downstairs isn't as un-fun as upstairs.

We wandered around the town a little bit before we stopped in this place to get lunch.  Lee had pizza and I had Capri salad because HELLO we were on Capri.  Ironically, I've had much better caprese at other places.  Wanna see the dude who ran the restaurant?

Thankfully, he was wearing more clothing than that when we met him.  He looks like a walking heart attack and/or stroke waiting to happen, and judging by how much salt he put in the food we ordered, I'm gonna take a wild stab and say his diet isn't the greatest.  But I can't leave you with THAT picture to end the cruise.

Oh yeah, we're definitely cuter than that other guy.  Hope you enjoyed the cruise photos, Mom!