Christmas vacation

We’ve returned home from our week in a nearby ski resort where we spent Christmas. I don’t know that it was what I expected. Even after checking out the resort this summer (we drove around for about 30 minutes on our way home from our vacation in Italy… hardly serious research).

We stayed in Alp d’Huez. It’s only about an hour from here. I’d really left the selection of the resort up to Bill because he’ll spend hours studying the piste map and determining if the place has enough easy, intermediate, and advanced runs to satisfy everyone going. And this year, it was the three of us plus Bill’s sister, who hasn’t skied in about 15 years.

The hotel wasn’t at the base of the slopes. Those were far too pricey. But it got good reviews on Trip Advisor, and it was affordable without being so cheap that you’d wonder what on earth you were in for. We checked in and went to our rooms… opened the doors.. and discovered that Debbie got a fairly big room with a balcony overlooking the mountains. We got a room of about the same size but with a twin bed stuffed in, only a desk and small closet for storage, and a window a small window with a view of an apartment building. Nice. As the week went on, I started to peek into other rooms when the housekeepers left the doors open while cleaning… and noticed armoires… big rooms… two double beds… oh, well.

We’d also opted for taking the hotel’s half-board. That means breakfast and dinner was part of the price. After a day skiing, it’s just easier to know that you can walk downstairs and eat, rather than try to find a restaurant and mess around with reservations and the like. I’d read that the food was good. We ate things that surprised all of us: gratin of mussels, venison, oysters (only Kaitlyn ate that and she loved it), perch, crab tacos (not really tacos, don’t know why they called it that), Chartreuse ice cream (tasted like frozen Nyquill). The food was excellent. The service was suburb. The last night we were there we finally went into the lounge and sat in a corner playing games. We should have done that every evening, it was a lot of fun. Ok, I ended up “playing” chess with Kaitlyn which consisted of letting her move the tokens around the board however she wanted, but she enjoyed it so that was all that mattered.

The dinners were excellent, but long. Generally by the time dessert came around, Kaitlyn was too tired to stay at the table, so Bill and I took turns taking her upstairs to the room. Christmas Eve was my turn. We set out the eclair we’d bought at a bakery for Santa (it’s France, he has to eat what they have here) and an apple we’d picked up for the reindeer to share, and a bottle of water since we didn’t have any milk in our room. That got Kaitlyn to thinking… where does Santa stop to pee while he’s busy delivering gifts all around the world? She seriously needed this question answered. I told her that Santa has helpers stationed around the globe, giving him a place to go if he needs. She was ok with this. Then she wanted to know how Darth Vader pees in that suit of his. Before I could dream up something for that question, she decided that he doesn’t have to pee because he’s only partially a real person. And with that, she rolled over and fell sound asleep.

During the day, Kaitlyn took ski lessons in the morning and ate lunch with the other kids before we picked her up. I ended up not getting in as much skiing as I’d have liked… partially because Bill usually took her to school then came back to get me, meaning we only had about an hour to ski before we’d stop for an early lunch. So I can only blame myself for not getting ready faster. Bill’s sister only skied a day and a half. The first day she ended up walking all over town wearing her ski boots and we think that’s what caused strange blisters to form in rings around her legs. It was a couple of days before she could put anything on her legs, let alone ski boots. Then when she gave it another go, she took a pretty good spill on one run and I think that did her in. She says she had a good time shopping and resting and riding the gondola to join us for lunch. She did try sledding with us. You ride the gondola up and take a sled run down. It’s not nearly as scary as the one we tried last year in Switzerland. But it was too fast for her. And we got there so late that we only got to go down once before the gondola closed for the night. (Kaitlyn isn’t good at switching gears… we shouldn’t have let her go to the room to rest… oh, well)

One of the neatest things we saw was on Christmas night. We went to the ice rink to skate, but it was closed because Santa was walking around it, tossing chocolates to the kids lining the outside of the rink. That wasn’t the cool part. Then we looked up the mountain and all the ski instructors (there are a couple hundred at least) skied down the mountain carrying torches. The kind you take to rid your village of an ogre. It was very pretty… a line of orange dots snaking down the mountain… all the way into town! They walked from the piste to the ice rink where they put out their torches and stood together. Then there were fireworks. Luckily we were not so close that the noise upset Kaitlyn and she could actually watch them and enjoy them… with my hands covering her ears.

Friday night there was a concert of Christmas songs at the church in town. The concert was being played on the pipe organ. It’s a unique organ because it’s made to look like a giant hand. I wanted to see this. And I like Christmas music. But by Friday night, Kaitlyn had no interest in doing any such thing. Neither did Debbie. I’d resigned myself to just sit in the room when Bill told me he’d go with me. So we walked to the church. Our ski pass got us into the concert for free. Which turned out to be a very good thing. Because when the guy started to play, it was stuff I’d never heard before. I peeked over the shoulder of the woman in front of me to read the bulletin (I refused to pay the 12 Euros for it)… 6 songs… not a single recognizable Christmas song. I videotaped one. Bill offered to hold the camera for me and I told him to point it anywhere, I was just trying to get some nice music to use in my home video of the trip. Just then, the organist struck a chord and started playing a song that sounded more like something from a horror flick than a Christmas song. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. I’m sure the people around us weren’t pleased, but I didn’t care. I mean… that was the most un-Christmas sounding Christmas concert I’d ever been to.

All in all it was a good week. Got to rest. Got to visit. Got to ski. Got to laugh. Found a restaurant worth an hour’s drive. Next year.. we’ll try yet another resort.

One Response to “Christmas vacation”

  1. D.A.D. says:

    Where do they buy those ogre-ridding torches? I tried to find some in Rancho Mirage to keep on hand, but nobody carries them any more. I was told all the ogres had retired and moved to Florida, so they have no need in Rancho Mirage. Well, let me tell you, we had a few “friends” in for dinner over the holiday, and obviously not every ogre has retired and moved. Well, some have retired & stay put.

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