Food and water

Terme Pre-Saint-DidierWe decided to do something different on my day off, and Leah has wanted to go to a spa in St Gervais. My boss, however, handed me some leaflets from a place over the hills (or through the Mont Blanc Tunnel) in Cormayeur. A bit of a traipse but actually easier to get to as they were offering a free bus service for a limited time. Big saving as it’s €40 return for the tunnel alone. The spa was called the Terme Pre-Saint-Didier and we opted for it. This would make it the third spa I’d been to on my trip along with Cologne and Hanmer Springs.

Glad we did as well. The free bus was almost exactly 15 minutes late at the pick-up point (with the same delay on the return trip), but otherwise it was a great day out. The spa were offering a deal to get cheap tickets for a chairlift up onto the Hellbronner pass but we decided against that as the weather was really poor. For €35 each, we got the full run of the place (which was enormous); towel, sandal and bathrobe; body lotion; and grub. Lots of grub. Lovely grub. Bready products, very good quality fresh fruit, delicious yoghurt and about 6 different fruit (and vegetable) drinks. Available all day as a buffet.

Having a splashThe sheer variety of rooms and so forth was staggering. Leah had a mud bath for an additional €10 and aside from that, everything else we did was in with the cover charge. There was a large outdoor area where we enjoyed the snow landing on our heads as we basked in warm water (with jets). We laughed at a very skinny girl with boobs far too large for her running across the cold ground to one of the saunas. I overheard a couple in one of the steam rooms definitely having more than just a conversation and a civilised sweat.

There were waterfalls, bubble baths, chromatography pools, whirlpool baths, saunas of various temperatures, saunas with various smells (including pine – fantastic – and hay, which was more reminiscent of a hamster cage), steam rooms, a Turkish sauna with scented salt to rub on, hot showers, cold showers, a fire room, an air room with hanging baskets to sit in, a water relaxation room with water beds, a darkened relaxation room with soothing music… the list goes on.

Yes, in places it could have done with a lick of paint (literally – probably moisture getting under the last coat) but other than that it was superb. Clean, well-decorated, well-lit and with very new-looking equipment. You can tell we had a good time, can’t you? My back’s even been better since we’ve been. That won’t last long with the crappy bed in my apartment but never mind.

The Chomoatography PoolWe caught the last afternoon bus back and chilled out for a little as we waited for dinner at the Sap at 20:00. Only when we got there, Pieter apologised profusely as he’s forgotten they had to cater for an additional 12 guests and couldn’t squeeze us in. No problem. As a bonus, the overseas director had told me to take my guest out for dinner on the company when she was visiting. Chris, one of the head chefs, recommended Casa Volaria out past the casino so we walked down there.

Definitely a good choice for Leah, who had some kind of dead sea thing and pasta. I settled on a 300g rib steak that was very well cooked but about 50% fat and gristle. A shame as my starter and dessert were both very nice indeed. Mind, I can’t complain as I pocketed the receipt to shove on expenses. Our thanks to Goran!

The following evening, we did get that dinner in the hotel. The advantage for me was that we had been going on a Tuesday when I’d eaten there before so the menu was the same. This way I got to try another couple of dishes, although we missed sticky toffee pudding night. Instead we had to put up with chocolate brownies. For which I’ve been ordered to get the recipe to Leah. So she was impressed, then.

More chomatographic wonderfullnessNext day was home day for Leah. After a mad panicked dash around half of Chamonix to find our handyman (who’d gone AWOL with the van keys), we set off a little earlier than originally planned. Apparently there was some kind of demonstration closing the tunnel which was causing problems with traffic all around town. I found a rat-run to get us passed it and we raced off to the airport in the brake-less deathwagon. In fairness the brakes worked. If you hammered the middle pedal down, allowed for 2-3 times the braking distance and covered your ears to the grinding sound. Not ideal as the heavens opened on the journey to Geneva. It was raining so much I actually stuck to the speed limit for most of the drive.

Thankfully the rain eased off on the way back, although it came down in town again today. Looks like the season may be drawing to a close. This weekend coming we are taking guests to Geneva and not bringing any more back with us. I will not make any more statements about this reducing the possibility of disaster. Not after last time.

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