Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time for Some Action...

Sorry for the delay - Chamonix

Given the current financial situation I feel like perhaps I should have kept my money in my pocket instead of this European adventure but oh well “you only live once",“you can’t take it with you” ..I have been repeating this mantra for the last couple of weeks hoping that it will make me feel better about the terrible state of the economy and more importantly the effect it will have on my social life...not working all that well.

Ok to the fun stuff!!

We boarded yet another train en route to Geneva to pick up a car and drive to Chamonix. The previous evening we had drinks with Phil’s friend Beth (see above) who informed us that the weather in Chamonix was supposed to be horrible..c'mon are you really surprised?? Being the usual positive person that I am (hehe) I was hoping for the best! Sure enough once we arrived, Phil checked the weather on top of the mountain and it was horrible. No hiking for us that day. What to do in this situation, eat, drink and shop! I am now the proud owner of a very sporty waterproof jacket. It is very cute. Who knew this would make me so excited.

That evening, the weather took a turn for the worse..the rain was so heavy and it was so cold. Actually this was a good thing as it made our dinner experience so much better. We pigged out on the best fondue EVER is this little stone restaurant. Perfect setting. That evening ended with watching a DVD in bed on a portable DVD player, me promptly falling asleep and spooning the machine...very sexy!

Next morning we woke to yet more rain. It didn’t look good but we were determined to do it so we slipped into the waterproof gear and headed off to start the climb. The first part of the climb was only about 2 hours so I could handle that right?? As we drove to the beginning of the trail, rain pelting the windows my positive outlook was quickly fading. 10 steps out of the car and it was time for a break in the hopes that the rain would let-up. Luckily, there was a little restaurant which served the best Irish coffee ever. After downing the lovely, very strong beverage I was ready for business.

The first day's hike was beautiful despite the rain. After about 2 hours we arrived at the lodge where we would spend the evening with dorm-like sleeping arrangements. I was not thrilled with this prospect. Luckily there were only 4 other people spending the night so we had our own little bunk bed. Seriously the bed are all together!! If it was full, chances are I could have been spooning with a stranger. Not only were the beds an issue but you had to go outside to use the bathroom. At about 3am I woke to some serious pee pains but was too scared to go outside by myself. I was mentally trying to tell Phil to wake up...finally it worked and Phil popped up having to pee so thankfully I had an escort.

The next morning was summit day. The hike was seriously, amazingly beautiful but the hardest thing I have ever done! I was really proud of myself when we reached the top…it was amazing. The only bad thing now we had to go down and you may think that is easier but it was so hard and scary. By the time we reached the lodge again I was tired and angry because it was so hard!!!! Phil sensing my “about to blow” status quickly ordered us tea and beer and my mood improved. So a total of 10 hours hiking that day but by the time we reached the bottom...I came to the conclusion despite the mood swings…one of the best things I have ever done!!!

Ok enough of all this writing take a look at the photos:

Check out how high I am



We've reached the top!

Look at that jacket

Great scenery

Almost done...time for a beer (look how swollen my fingers are from the hike)

Phil looking very satisfied! That is the hut in the background.

There you have Everest!! Yeah right!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ooo La La...Paris

So onto phase 2 of the adventure.

Prior to leaving London, we stocked up on the train essentials, wine, cheese, olives and nuts for journey. I think we amazed the two girls sitting across from us with the quantity of wine and food we consumed during the not-so-long ride.

We arrived in Paris late Monday afternoon and I was excited to get my French experience on. As we got into the cab at the station, I was about to be surprised by my traveling companion..turns out I was traveling with Philippe (Phil’s French alter ego) as he launched into full French speak. It was like that coffee commercial from the 80’s “hummm Phil never speaks French at home”. I will say it was a very pleasant surprise as all I had to do was nod, smile and say “Bonjour. Vin s'il vous plait.”

I was a bit nervous about the hotel as I was in charge of the Paris selection. Boy did I do a good job (if I do say so myself). The hotel was a small boutique in the St. Germaine district which is so cool. The staff and the rooms were fab. AND get this, free mini bar and open bar all day in the lobby. I could not believe it. Honestly, this was something I did not know when booking. It was great.

After having a glass of champagne to celebrate our arrival, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. I had been to see the tower last time I was in Paris but never got to go to the top. Anyone traveling to Paris, highly recommend Monday afternoon around 4pm for the visit as the lines were really short.

It was lovely and I am happy that we did it but I will have to disagree with those who claim the top is romantic. There was just was too many people for romance.

That evening we had a very late dinner at this bistro around the corner from the hotel. We…wait I (remember I am with Philippe) was the only English speaker in the place. It was very local which is what you want from vacation right?? Everyone was eating, drinking and smoking around us. Speaking of smoking..I have officially quit!! As you know I was always the social smoker. You would think this atmosphere would be the perfect setting for my habit but nope I was not even tempted so I think I have finally kicked-it!

The following day was some Musee D’orsey action (my fav museum), site seeing and our first failed attempt to visit a Picasso Museum (it was closed).

Notre Dame makes my legs look thin.

Walking back to the hotel we stumbled upon a restaurant that looked amazing so we made some reservations for that evening. Here is Phil and what appears to be a prostitute in the hotel lobby (enjoying some free pre-dinner drinks). Seriously, looks like I should be heading to the Moulin Rouge…

Dessert...this was supposed to be the healthy dessert (cottage cheese).

Finally we ended the night with some more champagne at a posh hotel with Phil’s friend Beth. We were heading to her apartment in Chamonix the next day before the climb!

So there you have it our Tango in Paris.

Tomorrow..uncomfortable train ride and Chamonix.

Friday, September 12, 2008

European Adventure – Stop 1 United Kingdom

Hello or shall I say Top of the Morning to ya'. I am back in Singapore a bit jet lagged, suffering from PVSD (see posted titled PSVD if not familiar) and worst of all..3 kilos heavier but all of that is worth it for one fabulous holiday. Since some of you Stupid Ho readers (JEFF) can not cope with too many words, I will post about each cities’adventures separately.

Travel and United Kingdom

Before leaving for the adventure, I was honestly so excited about every aspect, including the 13 hour flight. We were flying on the A380 so I was so excited to see what all the fuss was about. As we were rushing to the gate (Phil has a tendency to be one of the last one's on the plane which totally stresses me out) I caught a glimpse of the plane and my initial thoughts were.."'s not that big, it looks like a normal plane." My thoughts were quickly changed as we boarded on the upper deck and had to make our way to our seats on the lower deck. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! That plane is HUGE! I felt like I was visiting a small county..each little section of the plane a different zip code. I was all ready for some in-flight food, drinks and movies only to be disappointed by both of us passing out and sleeping for most of the flight. I guess the excitement got to us!

Before we knew it we had landed in jolly 'ole England and the adventure was about to begin.

Upon our arrival we headed to Tori - Phil's childhood friend's house where we would be visiting and resting for a few hours. I was super nervous and regretting my choice of capri pants as this was the first friend meeting. Why the ensemble regret?? My feet and ankles were so swollen I looked like I have an elephant's feet. I could hear the gossip now “Nice girl but you should see her ankles, they are huge”. We sat, had tea all the while I strategically draped my pashmina over my freak-like legs.

After a brief catch-up we grabbed our bags, and were off to have lunch with Phil's dad in the town where he grew up. Lunch was great, two bottles of rose, stories of a gruesome murder that happened in the small town and of all the celebrities that live in the area: Phil Collins, know that piqued my interest. All was going well until about 5 minutes after Phil’s dad was wrestling with a cap on the balsamic vinegar, all the while I was talking to him, I turn to Phil who promptly wiped drops of vinegar off my face. Apparently during the “struggle” some splashed on me and I just kept talking, All Class!

After lunch, we boarded a train and headed to London central to meet up with my friend Katy and her man. It was a blast, two American girls with 2 Brits..priceless. Many, many drinks can certainly help the jetlag.

Me and Katy

The next morning, nursing a serious hang over, we were off to meet another of Phil's friends, Helen, fiancée Charlie and their little boy, Ny. Do you think he is happy to see us?

Later that afternoon, we explored the Tate Modern then boarded another train back to Tori & Matt's for the night.

Saturday was the wedding and it was really fun. They were married in a very old stone church and it was beautiful. The day was great and you will be proud, I alternated between champagne and water as to avoid any Bridget Jones’ moments.

I appear to have a wig on..bad hair day.

Matt & Tori so you can see what they look like.

All of Phil’s friends were really nice and welcoming which made me feel really comfortable. Good stuff.

Sunday morning we boarded another train and headed to Phil's mom's house for the evening. She lives in the country..seriously. As we were driving from the train station, we had to stop for donkeys, horses and cows crossing the road. It was great. Phil's brother, nephew and sister-in-law all came to visit as well so it was a full house. As soon as we dropped our bags, we changed and headed to the beach for a walk and some crabbing. Ok let me explain the outfit, as per usual on my vacations, the weather was not cooperating for walking and crabbing activities and I had not purchased my own fabulous waterproof jacket (later in the trip) so I had to borrow a jacket from Phil's mom. Not my best look but Phil had a good laugh at my expense. I am also slightly distrubed that I look like a retarded child and get a load of the dog who is not part of Phil's family.

Phil's Fam

That evening we had a wonderful dinner, great conversation and my new favorite dessert home made by Phil's mom's partner Brian, banofee pie..banana, toffee and whip cream pie. As we headed to bed Brian left the light on in the kitchen for me in case I needed anything in the middle of the night. I warned that they may find me passed out in front on the open refrigerator full of banofee pie! This day/evening was one of my favorites of the whole trip!

Next day: breakfast, train to London, lunch with my childhood friend Valeria and ALL ABOARD TRAIN TO PARIS.

Jeez, I am tired already and that is a lot of words. Sorry Jeff.