Back to France

Horace-Benedict de Saussure monument at Chamon...

Horace-Benedict de Saussure monument

Just for a change, I awoke having had virtually no sleep. I tidied my room as best I could and went to hand the key back to Andy. Very kindly, he offered me to help myself to the buffet breakfast so I nabbed a yoghurt and a drink before catching the next train up to the airport.

Nothing exciting about the journey, thankfully. I snoozed for the short flight and landed all fine and dandy in Geneva shortly afterwards. I could have done with a much longer flight to catch up on kip!

I walked round to the charter terminal where I met up with our staff guiding guests onto coaches. One was just about to leave for Chamonix so I hopped on board and – yup – slept until we pulled into the town.

This time I made the sensible decision of dumping my stuff in the flat before getting lunch and then going to the office. Where I remained till the early hours sorting out quite a few issues. As usual.

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Back in Blighty

Kicking off with a “thanks” to Janeice who spent a couple of hours of her day off driving me to Geneva Airport so that I didn’t have to get one of the transfer buses.

As ever the airport was heaving and expensive. I was starving, but after over 30 minutes in the queue at Burger King I had to give up and walk off otherwise I risked being late for my flight. I tried to pick up a drink from a shop, but the minimum spend was CHF5 and the bottle was only CHF2.80. No worries, I thought, I’ll get one on the other side of security.

I rattled through the long passport queue and breezed security and then shuddered to a halt at the convenience kiosk by gate 31. The self same bottle of juice was now CHF4.80. If anyone had any complaints before about the whole “no liquids through security” thing being an excuse to rip passengers off, I point the in the direction of Geneva Airport as proof of this. They should change the airport logo to a skull and crossbones.

Still, the flight was only 10 minutes late in departing and fairly smooth. I slept on and off until the high crosswinds at Edinburgh caused a few clenched butt-cheeks as we descended. Kudos to the pilot, though,who set the plan down as gently as I’ve ever had a landing despite the atmospheric conditions working against him.

My dad picked me up and we zoomed across the Forth Road Bridge as all the high-siders had been barred from crossing due to the winds. As a result we made it to Perth a lot sooner than we’d expected. Enough time to say “hello” to my mum, giggle at the two mad dogs, grab some stuff and head up to Leah’s in Dundee.

Now, I’ve spent the better part of 6 weeks in the French Alps. It’s been snowing, icy and generally sub-zero for most of it. I have not fallen once.

Within a dozen steps of the car as I walked out of the car park in Dundee, I was on my arse. Ouch. Somehow I also managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder when I went down. Don’t ask. As promised in another blog post elsewhere, Leah had hot juice and sympathy when I arrived loaded with slightly less cold than I had the day before. Still, I’m male – I can milk sympathy for all I’m worth.

Ah, back in Britain. High winds, lashing rain, and I’ve got a cold. Great stuff.

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Going… going… back home

Dishwasher, open and loaded with dishesMy last morning in Chamonix was… eventful. Actually, one of the busiest working mornings I’ve had in a while. I was late into the office as I had to hand back the apartment to the people we’d rented it from. They were expecting Sophie, who handles the contracts, but had to deal with me instead. I was up till silly o’ clock tidying the place and my reward was a handful of snide remarks and comments about getting cleaners in at our expense to tidy it.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I know so many nice French people, this is the kind of attitude that would put me right off them. The floor was a mess, sure – but the vacuum I’d been provided with was less sucky than an asthmatic granny after a 10-mile run. I’d forgotten to wash a handful of spoons. I somehow think that claiming this warrants a €20 cleaning bill is a little out of perspective given there’s a dishwasher in the apartment and I’ve left behind half a tub of cleaning crystals for it.

Frankly, I expect them to do the job themselves and then bill the company. The stories I’ve heard about some of the people we lease from does make one jump to the conclusion that they’re all out to rip you off.

Anyway, I made it to the office in good time and had the last of my luggage with me. As I said, I used every trick I knew of to get all my luggage packed. This included tying my trainers and my boarding goggles to the carry-handle of my day-bag as they wouldn’t fit in my rucksack. Technically one piece of luggage and I got away with it, so I’m not complaining.

Nat kindly drove myself and one of the Chris’s to Geneva Airport. Chris had a 3-hour wait as we had to get there in time for my flight, but there wasn’t enough time to do two separate airport runs. My apologies for that.

The auto check-in involved some detective work as I didn’t have my booking reference to hand. Or the postcode of the British office, which was an alternative detail asked for. I did have the name of the person who booked the ticket… but it wasn’t their name used on the actual booking. I eventually sussed it as being the initial of the first word of our company name, and the second word in full – like “S Removals” as the booker on behalf of “Smith’s Removals”.

Luggage tagged, I handed my rucksack in (“Be careful of the weight next time” as it tipped the scales a whopping 1.6kg over the limit) and wandered through the boarding pass check and security in search of duty free for my mum. Only I didn’t find any. Aside from some small refreshment areas, all the shops in Geneva Airport are actually before the area where they check your boarding pass. Which is weird. I can only assume that if you buy something then they check your ticket at the till to see if you’re leaving the country. Seems a little weird, given that you could buy a budget ticket and a vast amount of duty free to outweigh the cost. Regardless, certainly if you’re heading for any of the “B” gates, there are no duty free shops past security so be aware.

My flight had a 40 minute delay in taking off, but arrived in Edinburgh earlier than that airport was claiming – an hour earlier, in fact.  I think they were advertising the times based on those in Switzerland, that is one hour ahead. Either way, my dad was expecting a long wait and had barely arrived at the arrivals area when I walked out.

It was nice to have some proper British grub for a change. Stew, spuds, carrots… A cup of tea and some cake afterwards. Two bouncy dogs going mad at my feet and a ton of mail to sort out.

Yup. Back home.

Now to sort out some couch surfing and flights for the Baltics…