Who wants to leave here? Not me. Not Alex. It is like Hanmer on steroids! Busier yes, but there's so much to do here.
First though, we have to:
1. Get hold of the owner of this apartment and see if it's free tonight. We've been trying to get him from yesterday, and still can't get hold of him.
2. Find some other accommodation for tonight.
3. Pack up this apartment.
Eventually we got hold of the lovely French guy Mica, who is the manager of these apartments, and is the contact person that the owner Fabien has put in charge of his little pocket-apartment. He was so helpful.
So no, we can't stay in the same apartment. And yes, he can probably find us another apartment in the same complex for the night. And another yes to borrowing his jack as our car doesn't even have it's own jack and tools to take off the wheel. Alex is sure that the noise in the brakes is something caught in between the disk and the pads, as the disks look very corroded on the outside, and the noise began quite suddenly so maybe a bit of the brake disk has broken off and got stuck? Alex can see a gouge in the disk. He's thinking if he could just get the wheel off himself then maybe he can fix it without taking it into a garage. Mr fix it. So thank you Mica, he lent us his jack and tools.... and Alex was soooo close.... but then the spanner was the wrong size for our little Fiat wheels. Oh well. Have to take it to the garage tomorrow.
Thankfully Mica found us another apartment for the night, this time that faces the town and the Jandri mountain. That's good news. I'll tell you why..... our last apartment which faced the other mountains had no wifi, which is normal as neither did the Italian place. But normally we can hook up through Alex's phone. But not if Alex can't get cellphone reception, I mean GOOD cell phone reception with 3G. If there's no 3G there's no hotspot wifi for our devices. So for the past few days we have been like in the olden days, when we try to find a connection by moving our cell phones around - here and inch, there an inch desperately trying to get a signal. So yay. This new apartment obviously faces the whatever-its-called that gives the signal to the town. Con-nec-ted!
We shift in here just after midday, after having packed up the old apartment, got everything in the car and went up town for a look at some of the shops here which we haven't got to see yet as we've been other places during shop hours. Honestly, most of them are either for ski gear, or tacky tourist shops. Alex bought a couple of the French papers with the photo of the winner of the stage yesterday. Good to bring home and practice our French on. Or cut up and make a collage. Or just keep as a keepsake.
This apartment feels so much nicer than the last one we've been in. Although it's the same size it's a lot more homely. This one has curtains! (The last one had blinds that were broken, and Alex had to fix one of them so that it would actually roll back up out of the way and let us enjoy the view.) It also has cushions and covers and just feels much more homely. We're very happy here for the night. Obviously the owner is a keen sewer as there are homely little home-sewn things everywhere, like a toilet paper holder in the toilet, and hand made memo boards. All decorated with this typical-of-the-region materials - cottagey designs with snow, pine trees, hearts (lots of red hearts) pictures of skiiers, checkers, mountain flowers. Very cute. Not at all 'trendy' - but very mountainy (if that's word - if not maybe it should be...)
By the time we had settled in and Alex had tried to fix the car and was unable to, we were starving. Well, getting hungry anyway. We've been eating so well, we could hardly be actually starving..... So off to our favourite place to eat here. We can all eat a kebab or burger, some fries each and a drink each for 21Euro. And it's really yummy. We've been to this 'joint' three times now (I hate to admit that, but that's the truth). Great value for money. Last night we tried somewhere else, and even the first taste of their food, when they brought out the bread (as all restuarants do here in Europe) we knew it wasn't going to be good. The bread was awful and the accompaniment was really yucky. We're obviously getting used to some pretty good food, and last night was not one of the best. Hence going back to what we know to be good, even if it's not entirely European at all. In fact definitely not.
Then we wanted to go up the mountain with Alex this time. We thought about doing the gondola which takes you right up to the glacier - a big long ride over amazingly deep valleys with huge spans - entirely scary. But it was too late in the day so the lady at the ticket office told us. So that was fine, as Johanna's first option anyway was doing the ski lift again that we did together a couple of days ago. It's cheap that's for sure and a fun ride, with great views at the top. We ended up doing the same walk that we did last time too, down to the two lakes. Only today we actually went to both of the lakes, and while Johanna went off exploring and catching bugs, and running around the lake I slept on the grass and Alex sat and enjoyed the view. It was really lovely there, even if they are man-made lakes! It was a bit colder as I only had on my light (and only) jacket and I was saying to Alex that I do wish I had brought my Kathmandu puffer jacket with me on this trip. It would've packed down really small and been really useful for a couple of days - like up the Jungfrau when we were very cold; last night when it was absolutely freezing walking into town to get dinner, especially when I wasn't feeling feel, and then today. But as Alex pointed out, I have survived without it. True statement. But knowing we were coming to the Alps, even in summer, perhaps taking a warmer jacket would have been wiser.
(Oh I had typed much more, but must have lost it when I went to get the photos to put on.....shame. Don't really feel like doing it all again.... maybe later. Must learn to 'save' more.)
Update: After 10pm.....Alright, let's try that again. See if I can remember everything.....
The trip back on the ski lift was amazing. It truly was worthwhile doing it again. It's just so amazing being on the mountain, sitting in a chair with a view to die for (not literally of course!) the quietness of the mountain, the whizz of the machinery - did I mention the views? Over the valley, over the town, over the mountains... incredible.
So we were keen to get back to the apartment for a rest, and Johanna needed time to sit and do her school work so we headed straight back, up those hundreds of steps from town up to the street where our apartment is on (the highest street in town). This town, we found out today, explodes to 45,000 people in winter. Which is huge! That explains why there are so many apartment buildings, hotel complexes etc. In summer, at the busy part of summer they'll get 15,000 - in other words how busy we think it is now is nothing compared to winter as it's a skiiers paradise up here. So many ski runs. Hundreds of ski runs. Lots and lots of ski lifts that would be operating in winter but aren't at the moment. Certainly is an incredible place and one we could come back to as Alex is enjoying riding his bike so much.
Which reminds me. Alex went for a ride while us girls were busy in the apartment later this afternoon. He rode down the mountain to the main road and absolutely loved the downhill. Apparently, although he probably shouldn't have told me this, he topped 68km and was flying past cars 5 at a time! The seal of the roads here are very good, not at all like the cheese grater rough roads at home. The descent was 20km and Al said it's like descending from Koromiko to Blenheim - and a steep descent! Coming back he climbed in elevation 750m, but in total climbed 2000m including all the uphill sections of the ride - it took him an hour and a half. He came home very excited about his ride and really not wanting to leave this amazing place which is a biker's paradise, whether you are a road rider or a mountain bike rider. Pretty cool.
The place we went to eat tonight was only opened a couple of weeks ago. It's called The Spot and the two british mates who run it have done a great job on the decor, the menu concept and the food. We really loved it. Again not very French..... but great food. One of the guys, his girlfriend's uncle has been a top winemaker in NZ for many years in Gisborne. Also the guy who served us our hot chocolates this afternoon (oh maybe that part was part of the lost information).... going back a little then..... after our walk to the lakes we went back to the restaurant Johanna and I went to the other day, and all got a hot drink. Johanna thought her coffee was amazing, and Alex and I were pleased to finally get a hot chocolate that is like our ones at home - only probably yummier as it really tasted like real chocolate. They were beautiful drinks, and we drank them outside on the terrace of the restaurant looking out over the township, the mountains surrounding, watching the crazy downhillers bike down the hill and the ski lift carrying up more bikers.... Anyway, the guy that made us those drinks was chatting to us about how he had been in NZ and actually lived in Blenheim for a month. And then he was there in the cafe tonight trying out this new eating spot. We reckon he was sussing it out in competition with his place on the mountain.
A quieter day today thankfully. What a blessing to have found somewhere else to spend the night and be able to stay in this beautiful part of France for another day. We feel so blessed. Inspiring these mountains! They put everything into perspective as you realise the grandeur and magnificence of God's amazing creation.... and how such a great and wondrous God can love us so much, give his life for us, and care for all the little details of our lives.... even when we're in France.