Charmed in Chamonix

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Breakfast at our hotel came with a wonderful view. We took a seat by huge floor-to-ceiling windows (or a glass wall if you wish) and were treated to a scene of snow-topped mountains so picturesque they seemed almost unreal, like a printed backdrop off a Macbook. But in spite of my disbelief, it was real and I was truly there, so filled with gratitude and wonder that there must’ve been a huge grin spread across my face.

After a laughably disastrous dinner the night before, with chewy fondue that was worryingly reminiscent of plastic rather than cheese, it was a relief to wake up to a spread of delicious pastries, perfectly runny eggs, and unlimited bottles of Actemel (a European Vitagen/Yakult equivalent).

I stuffed myself silly with Nutella and croissants, and we were soon fuelled for our agenda of the day - a hike in the woods!

Well, to be precise, it was more of a gentle stroll on a perfectly horizontal trail. But if we’re being liberal with the term hike (which we are!), it was a hike... for beginners… new beginners.

Armed with a map scribbled with very helpful directions by our hotel receptionist, and a duffel bag filled with sustenance (chocolate and water, obvsly), we set off on our adventure!

A gastronomic adventure, that is! Before we even reached the beginning of the trail, an icecream store beckoned. For some reason, ice cream seems to taste even better in cold weather and it certainly held true here. Maybe it’s because it takes ages to melt and we don’t quite have to deal with sticky icecream droplets everywhere, or race against the sun to have the last lick!

Three scoops of rum & raisin, salted caramel, and some Mont Blanc (a decadent combination of caramel and cream) later, the buildings slowly faded behind us as we headed to the woods. It was such a beautiful day with blue skies and the yellows of turning leaves in autumn.

I was truly having the time of my life learning how to skip pebbles and watching Boyfriend throw large rocks into the river to make a big splash. We picked up sticks and raced them along the current, crossed small streams by balancing on little rocks, and walked hand-in-hand, two people surrounded by the enormity of nature.

He  picked up the flatter pebbles for me to skip although I’m truly hopeless at it. It isn't even that I have problems getting the pebbles to skip - that's completely forgivable! Blame it on poor coordination, awful luck, or just bad aim, but even with the stream stretched out before me, almost all the rocks I threw would miss the water (!!), either getting lodged against a protruding rock or get tangled within the branches of trees below. But he still kept giving me the best pebbles anyway, even though they were completely wasted on me.  

And it's little things like these which make me feel so incredibly blessed! But it seems almost unappreciative to fail to credit everything, both big and small; the effort and expense behind the entire trip to Chamonix, being shown around Geneva, the voice notes along every step of the way, the hard work in the office, the prayers over the relationship… All of it to remind me how blessed I am.

We  left the woods in high spirits and spent the rest of our day having delicious sweet treats and relearning how to play chess with the giant chessboard at the lobby of our hotel. Cue flashback to high school days of being a chess club member, spending an hour a week playing and yet managing to get progressively worse at it. Yep, I was that kind of student. 

Boyfriend and I left the game incomplete to catch our ride back to Geneva but since then, have spent many Facetime conversations over quietly competitive online game of chess. Such is the LDR life. 

And here we are now, miles apart, with Chamonix feeling like it happened ages ago. It was a beautiful place, perfect for a getaway that filled us with memories like charge on a battery bar till we meet again!

Cooling off in Chamonix

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Over October, I took a week off from work to catch a flight to Geneva for some crisp autumn weather and quality time with Boyfriend and his parents. A few days into my visit, we got up not long after dawn broke and headed to Chamonix in south-eastern France. Our ride on the Cham Express went by so quickly and smoothly, without even a peek at our passports, that I hardly noticed we crossed the border!

But indeed, one and a half hours later, we were in France, marvelling at a fantastic view of Mont Blanc peeking through the mist.

It’s a good thing that I procrastinated packing up and storing away my winter wear after moving back to Malaysia, because out came the puffy jacket and thick scarves for the -1°C  weather. We wrapped ourselves warmly and headed out to the village for some good old exploring.

Chamonix is the kind of place that would be heaving come ski season, but we were a few months shy of any snow and the streets were fairly quiet. This gave us plenty of opportunity to be unabashedly loud and silly on the streets, intermittently popping into shops without having to push our way through throngs of people.

The pastries on offer were a feast for both our stomachs and our eyes, which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Boyfriend and I were let out a couple of “Mmmm”s and “Yum”s to each other through mouthfuls of food, as we feasted on a slice of crispy bread with an excellent anchovy-onion-olive combination that we bought on a whim. It may not sound like the most conventional mix, but the flavours sure hit the spot!

With our tummies filled with savoury goodness, we merrily headed down a random street, taking pictures as we went along, thoroughly amazed at how beautiful the views were with every twist and turn. The experience was even more cherished knowing that the hours we had together were numbered.

When we worked up an appetite for lunch (which to be honest, happened pretty quickly), we headed to a restaurant that drew our attention for its cute signage. As the restaurant specialised in omelettes, we ordered one each and dug in.

Its penchant for cuteness wasn’t limited to its signage, with the fries served in a mini fryer.

And this cutie too!

The food was by no means spectacular, but somehow, breakfast food for lunch always feels like a treat and we enjoyed our meal very much. What was good however, was their gigantic serving of orange juice that went down very well!

And of course, cheese is always a great idea! But psst, stay clear of the other juices – they’re all overpriced bottles.

After lunch, we checked into Hôtel l'Héliopic, which in itself was a treat. Definitely recommended.

After all, the lobby greeted us with free Haribo gummies and packaged apple juice. But if children goodies aren’t your kinda thing, the spa itself was lots of fun and worth the stay – it comes complete with plunge pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, ice room, and calming music playing over the swimming pool!

Soaked till my fingers got wrinkly, but hey, that’s how you know you’re having a good time!

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