Sunday, February 19, 2017

Geneva & Annecy for New Years & A Failed Ski Trip to La Molina

Well, this post is about 6 weeks late, as I've been focusing on my English teaching blog,  The Teaching Covebut better late than never, right? By the way, if you know any English teachers, please send them my way so they can sign up for free teaching, motivational and organizational printables - a whole library of them, updated monthly  :) 
Annecy, France, January 2nd, 2017
 Since this is a bit of a catch-all post covering most of the last six weeks of my adventures, I thought I'd make it a brief summary with a handful of photos covering my short visits to  Geneva, Switzerland, Annecy, France and La Molina, Spain.   

Ringing in the New Year in Geneva

Poster I made for The Teaching Cove, Annecy, France
So, since I was hanging out by myself watching movies all Christmas week (check out those movie reviews here if you missed them), I decided to hop on a plane (the low prices of a BCN-GVA flight continue to amaze me) and visit Kristin for New Year's Eve. She came to Barcelona last year for New Year's, so it was great to  celebrate together again.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately), my craptastic phone finally died (the one I got for super cheap after robbers stole my Samsung S3 2.5 years ago, less than a month after moving to Barcelona - remember this post?!). So, I lost the photos that others took that night, but just imagine a lot of wine, champagne at the apartment, two 20 euro drinks at a bar, and an amazing "pizza"soup that Kristin made for dinner.

I arrived early on New Year's Eve and had a blast at the party Kristin threw - although the hangover on Sunday was possibly the worst I've had. Ever.

Of course, whenever I visit Switzerland, I bring back herb and garlic cream cheese, spatzle, and a loaf of amazing bread. Now, it's against the trainer's diet plan for sure, but that started January 10th, so I had a few days ;) 

Daytrip to Annecy, France

Since Kristin had Monday off work, we headed across the border to Annecy, France.  I love that France is across the border! So exciting! Annecy is a touristy, beautiful and picturesque town. While it was way colder than Spain, it was still delightful to walk around. Actually, even though we missed the market by a day, it really felt like Christmas. (Barcelona doesn't really have the Christmas-y feel, except at El Corte Ingles and in the Christmas markets in Sarria).

Swan at Annecy

Mountains in the distance, Annecy

Kristin at Annecy lake

La Molina - Failed Ski Trip

Three weeks ago, I decided to go to La Molina by train  (spoiler alert - do not do this), book expensive private skiing lessons for a couple hours, and practice for my then upcoming trip (a week ago) to Andorra. 

While I'm pretty much used to Spain's inefficiencies and quirks after 2.5 years of living here, that Saturday a few weeks ago was not bearable. Here is a brief summary:

The Ridiculousness of Spanish Process at the Ski Hill

  • I left my house at 6:30 in the morning to be able to catch the only train that would get me to my 11:00 lesson  (arrival time should have been just before 10:00)
  •  Train stopped 2 stops early for no reason. For half an hour. No announcements.
  •  Arrived at La Molina station at 10:15, still barely enough time to make the lesson
  •  The bus, whose only purpose is to coordinate with trains, did not arrive until 10:50
  •  I called the ski school, who confirmed they could wait a bit for my lesson
  •  The bus arrived at 11:15, because that's how slow they are
  • I skipped the lift pass line, as I had already paid for lift pass, lessons, etc, online and had my tickets in hand. No signs anywhere, but I finally found the ski school.
  •  I rushed to get equipment - a huge queue. Would they go faster because I was late for my lesson? No way.
  • Get to the end of the line. Attendant informs me that ski rentals are not included in my pass (first attendant had said I was all paid up), sends me to back of line to pay
  • I pay, get my skis fitted, and ask the guy where I'm supposed to show my forfait (the lift ticket)

"Oh, that's not a lift ticket", he says.
"But I already paid!"
"Yes, but you need to change it for a lift ticket at the front of the ski resort"
  • It's 12:00.  I trudge over the slushy snow to the front of the resort with all my equipment and stand in a massive queue. The same one for people who haven't paid already. There is also only one of the 4 windows open on a Saturday afternoon. Because that makes sense.
  • 12:30 - I finally have the real forfait and try to find the ski school meeting place. No signs, of course
  • 12:40  I meet my instructor, who has another lesson at 13:00

  • Result: I paid 88 euros for a 20 minute lesson on slushy snow, and no one will refund or exchange any part of it.
  • Positive side:  Apparently the ski instructor thought I was good enough to do a couple blue runs and then head straight to red.
  • I RUSHED to catch the bus and the 14:15 train home, because there was no way I was hanging around until the 17:00 train, skiing on slushy snow, and getting back to Barcelona at 21:00 if I were lucky.  I made the train by about 30 seconds, by (literally), jumping off the bus, and running as fast as humanly possible up four flights of stairs to the train platform.

Anyway, let me tell assure you that Andorra is a much better place to ski.  Last weekend, Vita, Ratko,  Carly, Alejandro and I headed over to Andorra for a really great weekend of skiing (in a car).  Stay tuned for a post on our adventures coming up soon!

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