Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Back from holidays

So here I am at home again. Back from camping in Samoëns, a little village-town south of the Geneva lake and 2 hours' drive to the Mont Blanc, highest mountain in Europe. A splendid little bourgeois holiday, just as I like it (or nearly so).

N° 1 and 2 = Those are the tourists - called "grockels" in English English - standing in front of the Geneva Lake. On the other side is Switzerland. As you see, not all French are slim and those people are certainly not Dutch.

N° 3 = Here you see the Mont Blanc, from a distance. I made that photo with a zoom at its maximum. Mister Big dwarfs everything around.


Coming to the camp site I was amazed to see for the first time in more than 20 years a sizeable number of tents. Till now, those campers were mostly people driving motorhomes (kind of live-in lorries) of various sizes and a slowly shrinking number of caravans. I suppose motorhomes simply were more fashionable. And lastly, in a corner, there were some tents.

This time big change: about half of the spots were occupied by tent campers. Some of those tents were real holiday cathedrals, never seen such big ones before. Stupidly I did not make any photos, it just did not occur to me.

The reason of this change is certainly the amazing price of gas and Diesel. Maybe in ten years' time I'll arrive on my holiday spot in a high-speed rickshaw, like in Vietnam. That might help us save gas and money.

And who is going to pull those rickshaws. Certainly not me but what about hiring some prisoners? All those murderers, thieves, crooks, dopers, dealers, rapists are idling in their cells. You cannot make them look at the telly for more than ten hours. That would be inhuman. Furthermore, it seems, here in France, the prisons are overflowing, they are now being put inside in layers, like sardines. So some rickshaw exercise would do them a world of good, add color to their pale indoor cheeks and lessen the burden of the unhappy impoverished taxpayer.

Well, so much for some social engineering of my invention.


But we went to the Alps for a little change of surroundings and furthermore, Samoëns is famous for its paragliding flying possibilities. Have a look

N° 4 = That is Plateau de Saix (yes, unpronouncable for nearly everybody). All those people are preparing for take-off. When you are in the air, you have about 800 m (about 2500 feet) of air below you. After soaring a bit above the launching pad Mount Blanc is clearly visible.

A fellow pilot told me that two years ago a guy was able not only to go there by paraglider but even land on its summit of 4800 m (about 14500 feet). And when he stood on our number 1 mountain he was all alone because Mt. Blanc was closed for climbers that day. A heat wave made the snow cap and glaciers unsafe and avalanche prone. So he just stood there for some time, Italy behind him, France in front and then flew away, happy.

Samoëns has not only two splendid launching pads but also a king-size landing spot. It has the size of about two football fields. Touching ground there gives me the feeling to land on Frankfurt International. No danger to hit a church tower, a car park, a lamp post or just a big tree towering in front of you.

N° 5 = The landing area though you see here only a small portion of it.

N° 6 = A better view of the landing area. Pure bliss.

Three days before the end of our holidays I had another start on top of Mr. Saix, see first picture. As there was no wind, I was running at top speed to get the paraglider taking off.

While running I fell into something like a rabbit hole and had my feet torn a bit. In the air I thought "that was a near miss" and when touching ground it hurt a bit. But next morning, I could not move my foot, it hurt like hell. The worst was going up and down the stairs to the lavatory. The night after I was even pissing in a plastic bottle to avoid climbing those stairs.

My wife told me about an old grandmother's remedy fighting inflammation. Just take good olive oil and add some drops of lemon and mix the stuff. It works, ladies and gentlemen. Really, it works! The third day I was already climbing those stairs up and down, bye bye piss bottle. Born again for further action.

Here, some more photos:

N° 7 = Mountain bike girl. T5his activity seems to be more risky than paragliding. Good to know.

N° 7, 8, 9, 10 = Have some more. Could not resist showing them.