28.12.2012 -1 °C
Another travel day for us, today we are heading to what we have bookmarked on our journey as the winding down part until we are home, Chamonix. Only a few places left on the trip now with Orleans (town outside Paris), Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Paris and Bali. So it isn’t long till we will be home in Melbourne, but still a little while to go, we are missing everyone, plus the doggies! So as I said, a travel day from Grenoble to Chamonix, we have a train trip that requires two changeovers, a total time of travel around four hours. We have a tight connection of six minutes to board our last train, which was hectic to find the platform, but once we arrived in Chamonix at night it was just beautiful with snow everywhere.
The day started with replacing the lost chargers for the laptop and iPad/iPod charger, Amanda slept in while I went out and tried to find the appropriate chargers. This was hard to do, the first place didn’t have any chargers, but they did have duct tape for the suitcase so that wasn’t a complete waste of time. The second place seemed to be more promising, as it was a department store but failed to have an electronic section within it. The third place I went to, seemed very promising, as it was like a JB Hi-Fi store, even better they had an apple department within the store, so I found the laptop charger needed, bought the charger and headed back to the room.
By the time I had looked around and found what was needed, it was just before eleven, ten to, to be precise. Check out was at eleven and Amanda was still asleep so this made a mad rush to get everything ready in time, we did well, packing everything up quickly, also having to wash our dishes or we lose our deposit for cleaning. We got out of the room at half past eleven but Amanda went downstairs and checked out about quarter past pretending to ask where the garbage disposal was for our rubbish. Before leaving the room I duct taped the crack on the suitcase, I may have gone overboard with the duct tape; at least Amanda believes so.
The train times for the day to Chamonix were not great, with the best time and duration being just after 3pm. So we just thought we could leave our bags at the hotel and then walk around Grenoble, have a coffee or two at a café or see some sights until the train. As we checked out, the hotel informed us that due to the reception closing at midday and not reopening until three thirty in the afternoon, we could store our suitcase but wouldn’t be able to get them out until reception is open again i.e. 3:30pm. So now the only option was that we had sit in the small lobby with our luggage until we had to go to the train station.
We sat down in the lobby, I was fed up with it and thought it was ridiculous we couldn’t store our luggage here, while sitting there we thought of things we could do and what not. So we came up with the plan that if the hotel wasn’t fully booked we could have a key to a room, store our luggage there, then when we want to leave we could grab our luggage from the room, leaving the key behind in the safe where keys are kept for people who arrive outside reception time. We asked reception if this could be done and that they have our card details on file, if they feel that the room has been used, such as the bed been laid on or whatnot so they can charge us for cleaning.
The reception called someone, presumably her boss to see if this could be done, unfortunately it couldn’t, but she suggested that they have another hotel right near the train station with a twenty four hour reception desk, so we could leave our bags there. The lady called us a taxi, the taxi said it will arrive in half hour, that half hour came and went - no taxi, she called again, said they have problems with taxi’s showing up on time, so we contemplated taking the tram up to the station. It’s almost daily now that we hear “this never usually happens, the first time we’ve had a problem”. As we got up to just get the tram, a taxi driver came in. Shortly after we finally arrived at the hotel, dropping off our bags.
We walked around, found a bar to have a coffee, and had free Wi-Fi so that was a bonus, great way to kill time. So we sat in the bar for around an hour or so, I really don’t know, we just sat in there on the net writing emails and what not. We left to get some food before the train came to keep us going for the train rides. I knew where subway was and sounded like a good option, Amanda was hungry but I wasn’t that hungry due to picking away this morning at the left overs from dinner last night.
We got on the tram into town, took only five minutes, we both didn’t realize it was that close, got to Subway, it was packed, I wasn’t that hungry so Amanda went up and ordered while I found a seat upstairs. While waiting for Amanda in line I surfed the net on the iPad reading up on Chamonix and Mont Blanc, I started to get really excited to go. Once our stomachs were full (I ate half of Amanda’s subway sandwich) it was time to head back, pick up our bags and get the train.
We got our bags, the hotel where our bags were stored was right across the road from the station, we walked across the road, we had just under half an hour until our train departed, so we wanted to be sure if our trains needed any required reservations to avoid any problems, so we headed to information, I sat with the bags as Amanda dealt with that. Found out no reservation is required, then had to wait for a bit until our train had a designated platform. We found our platform and sat down for the train, which arrived in less than five minutes.
The first train was just under two hours, it wasn’t crowed at all, there was no luggage rack, so we found four seats that face each other, and placed the suitcase on the seat next to us. Basically every stop it made, more people got on but not heaps, there was plenty of spaces to sit, so the suitcase wasn’t taking anyone’s spot. The train was comfy; we had a couple of blogs that we had to write so along the whole journey I wrote some blogs on the laptop.
We arrived at our destination of Annecy, where we had twenty-four minutes to change trains to St Gervais-les-Bains where we will then get our last train to Chamonix from. We found the train in plenty of time; it had already arrived when we got there, so we boarded the train and had heaps of seats with a luggage rack, found good seats. This train got more and more packed as it went along; luckily no one sat next or in front of us.
We arrived at our last change over destination of St Gervais-les-Bains; here we had a short change over of only 9 minutes. It was a mad rush when we arrived; we ran down the stairs, ran up the stairs of each of the six platforms to look on the screen to see if this was our train. Couldn’t find our train anywhere, time ticking away; we ran into the main area of the station, found our platform on the screen and ran like hell to make the train. As we were running it felt as though we were on the Amazing race (haha we have been watching a lot of that show as you can tell), we got to the platform, just happened to be the same platform we departed our last train from, when our had train left, the train we had to catch must have come, so all that running around and we could have stayed on the same platform.
Now it is all dark outside and we are on our last train to Chamonix, the train only took forty minutes to arrive, it was hard to see anything out the window, the only thing visible was the scenery close to the train. The only thing that was clear was the snow, as we got closer and closer the snow just piled up and up, we both were getting excited to arrive now.
Once we arrived, we got our print out of our hotel, the information we needed that I’d prepared pre-trip telling us whether the hotel was walking distance or if it was best to catch a taxi. It was walking distance and we wanted to save money too so opted on walking, but due to all the snow on the path, the slush as well; a taxi was a better option. We tried to find the taxi rank or even a taxi driving past; there was nothing, so we deiced to walk to the hotel. We asked the train information desk, for a map and directions and set course for our hotel.
With the directions given and the map, we walked through town towards the hotel, trying to wheel the suitcase with a missing wheel along the way. According to the directions given once reaching the big clock we had to turn left, we did so and couldn’t see it anywhere. No street signs as well made it hard to figure out where we were on the map; we found the train track we were near on the map, so at least we knew where we were now. We studied the map and thought we had to go past the train station to arrive at the hotel, mainly my idea, we did so, past the train tracks, then came to a bridge that went over water, which meant we had gone the wrong way. We started to walk back the way we came from, asked some chef shoveling snow on the street, told us we had to go up the street and it is two minutes away.
We finally arrived at the hotel, got out of the cold, well I was boiling because of the luggage plus the snow making it harder to pull along. I sat down to rest while Amanda checked us in; Before arriving at Chamonix, Amanda had emailed the hotel asking if we could have a room with a view because she had read on their website that the view was pretty good. So the ladies at reception asked if we wanted to take the room with the view for a bit more money. We decided on doing it as it wasn’t that much more. We got our key and headed up to the room. We both wondered how good our view would be, as we hadn’t really seen anything yet that the hotel would have a view on. We entered our room, the décor was that typical mountain feel, with the wooden walls and furniture. We had a balcony, we went onto it to have a look and our jaws just dropped. There was the best view ever, the mountain was so close to us, was just a spectacular view, I can’t even describe it to you. All we could see was a road right below us with Christmas lights all up and then these massive mountains everywhere you looked. We were just in a valley of mountains. We were so concentrated on finding our hotel, we didn’t take the time to look around and just see the amazing view. We were really taken back from it, as it was dark it was hard to see how great it was, but still from night it was spectacular nevertheless, we both couldn’t wait to see it in the morning.
It was a bit late now, both hungry and tired from the train journey, we had dinner in the hotel, surprisingly it was nice food, I had some sort of potato dish that had bacon bits through it all, melted cheese on top with some cream sauce was so yummy, Amanda had fettuccine bolognese which compared to mine wasn’t great, they gave you hardly any Bolognese sauce on the pasta. It was nice though. After dinner we were both tired so we chilled in the room, excited for the next day and going up the mountains via cable cars that depart about 5 minutes down the road. Can’t wait.