Confessions of a Ski Tripper Part 2
Group Copeland went skiing with us in Val Thorens in January 2014 and as it just happens, Paul decided to write a blog about his ski holiday. Part 2 of the blog series Confessions of a Ski Tripper is finally here and if you missed part 1 you can read it all here.
Next job – we’re off to the ski hire shop.
The awkward first few seconds.
They are French but we know they speak fluent English. We are British hence NOT fluent in French but we’re not completely ignorant. Do we try some French or just save the embarrassment and go for English? Try and convert stones, feet and inches into kilograms, metres and centimetres? The French have no word for ninety. Four twenties and ten? Madness – the annual dilemma.
Easy going Irish Stewie goes for it. He produces sufficient fluency to a) surprise and impress the Brits and b) to get the job done but it’s going too well. He suddenly stutters and falls from French into Spanish. We all know it but the French lad latches onto it with glee:
“Mebbe you are ze true European eh? Ze only one who believes in ze Union?”
The room erupts in laughter and the ice is broken. There is no spectre of the 100 year war here, just a group of honest, respectful patriots who know the EU is an evil function of the Illuminate. A Frenchman, an Englishman, a baseball bat, a dark alley and an unelected EU bureaucrat? We’re European brothers all right. We’d share a beer after the deed then cheerfully go our separate ways. Back off Brussels!
We have ski boots, we have skis, we are good to go. The chalet boy thinks as it’s still only 3.00pm that we can have a quick ski. He’s wrong – false hope. Ski pass IS only six days after all. OK, no worries. Time for the Supermarket Sweep run. Where’s the supermarket? Bad news – it’s uphill. Good news – it’s only 40m from our front door.
5 men in a small Supermarche, laden with bottled water, beer, munchies and some competitively priced white and red. We stumble out and Irish Stewie notes that next door to our handy local supermarket is a handy Local. Sharp pint? The girls won’t miss us – OK but we’d better sit outside, put the warm beer in a snow drift to chill. Someone gets the round in, uh-oh – it’s happy hour! Repeat the identical round at no cost! We neck the first ice cold beer in the Alpine air. One chap is starting to sweat – “What about the girls?” Others start to fret. Suddenly the walkie talkie shatters the moment – it’s one of the WAGS!
“Why are you taking so long?”
“Oh, oh, er…… we were just thinking of having a quick drink – there is a bar just up the road – come and join us?”
“Ok, we will – see you in a minute”.
Panic sets in – the first pints are drained, the second round has to be ordered up sharpish. Hide the evidence of the first, it’s not worth causing ripples! But the girls take too long – the boys forget to factor in lippy, eye liner and the trying on of three to four top and bottom combinations for the 90 second walk to the pub. By the time the girls arrive the second round has disappeared.
“Are you having a drink then?”
“Er………..… yes please”
“Hey, its happy hour – you’re going to have to have two!”
“Er………….. is it?……. OK”
Bang – its 6.00pm local time and the boys have had 4 pints on a 10.00am baguette – lot’s of giggling and floatiness from the boys, funny looks from the girls. This could all go horribly wrong but we put the brakes on a little and head back to the chalet for supper. Life is good – we’ve found our Local for the week, L’Auberge des Balcons de Val Thorens. It’s nearly a full moon which sits photogenically between two buildings. In the background, a large corrie has been lit up – it’s spectacular.