Around the World in 80 Tantrums
A Family Adventure
Wednesday 27th August
After the terrible rain and the cloud at 200 feet all of the day before I feared the worst for today, our only day in Chamonix. But, unfounded fear! After a very restless night's sleep (body clearly so unused to comfy bed, dark room and quiet that it couldn't rest despite perfect environment), woke to find the clearest of clear blue skies and Mont Blanc's perfect white peak shining through the bedroom window. Wow! What luck! So, it's up the Aguille de Midi for us.
Moderate amount of kids whining over having to wear sensible clothes and we're off. We find the gondola station by following the cable lines down and finding where they meet the ground, and queue for our family ticket and a mere 160 euros later (hrm hrm, can it possibly be worth it) and we are up. We are packed like the proverbial sardines into the gondola and up and off. The view gets better and better and then the sudden whoosh over the pylons, which gives the whole thing a sort of roller coaster feel, and quickly the glacier gets closer and closer. There is a small cafe with outdoor tables and this point, which turns out to be just the half way station, many people crowding around, and meanwhile a small path beyond with no one on it. We mark it out as our lunchspot. Then on, into the next gondola, and up to the top.
Packed again into the gondola, but this time, due to me having gone the wrong way first of all, we miss the immediate gondola, and so are first into the next one and so head straight for the front of it, and so get the perfect view - looking straight straight up, to the ice and snow of the top. We get out of the gondolas and climb up outside steps to the terrace, and - WOW! Just Wow! I can't stop saying Oh My God! as we look out over mountain range followed by mountain range, into deep thick snow in which a few hardy climbers are picking their way over razor sharp snow ridges, and look down onto the clouds which pepper the mountains and valleys below us. What an incredible scene! And it's cold - COLD! - and windy, Poppy starts crying with the shock of the cold and exposure of it all. Not so sorry I made her wear her warm trousers now, huh. Rosie is a tiny little huddled figure, and Joe and D and I just love it all. It's so incredibly wow!
We explore the various different terraces, finding one which is warm and sunny and entirely sheltered from the wind which a group of Italians are inhabiting, eating their lunch and possibly having a well-earned rest from having climbed up here, or possibly just lounging about rather despicably using up all the space. We go inside and marvel at the various exhibitions showing how the hell this thing was built up here over 50 years ago when there were no portable power tools or fleece jackets. Just some brave, or possibly foolhardy, climbers with bobble hats and hand drills.
Of all the terraces we go on to, our favourite is the very first we went to - such an incredible view, and so open and blasting with snowy icy wind. I take immense pride in thinking that my grandfather climbed up this mountain to our right, Mont Blanc, with its snowy rocky peaks and glacier extending down almost to the very town of Chamonix. Finally we take our leave, and take the gondola down to the first station and then we all trip merrily along the path, leaving the other tourists far behind and having only a few actual climbers pass beyond us, and eat a well-earned lunch. The cloud starts to roll in above us obscuring the top and we celebrate our immense luck.
Yup, the cable car goes straight up here!
The incredible view from the top! The Aguilles de Midi, Chamonix. Can you spot the two tiny climbers in the snow field?
Rosie in the cold!
Three of us
Do I feel bad I've never taken the kids skiiing or what? Joe looks like he would be a natural! Or at least, he's got the shades.
Walking to the stunning lunch spot
Spot the clouds just beginning to roll in..
These boots are made for climbing. Age 5 style.
The kids are so picturesque, especially when they are asking most politely for ice cream, or hot chocolates. They were indifferent between the two. Sadly, their bids failed this time. Can't face re-mortgaging the house to afford either.
Other family blogs
poppysreports.blogspot.co.uk (Poppy, age 9)
dailydoseofpotatoes.blogspot.co.uk (Joe's blog, age 12)
rosiesdiscopartyyeah.blogspot.co.uk (Rosie's blog, age 5. Just videos of Rosie disco dancing in different locations around the world!)