A very early morning start in London saw us catching a taxi for Luton airport at 3am (after climbing into bed at 12.30am after a wonderful but last late-night-out-in-London with the Cramps). One taxi, an international flight, two trains and 12 hrs later, we were finally ensconced in our spacious chalet apartment in Champery Village, overlooking the magnificent Swiss Alps. Happily, sleep exhaustion could not detract from our appreciation of the almost indescribably, beautiful physical surroundings of the famous Swiss Alps.
After only getting 2 hrs sleep the night before, a very early first night was had by everyone. Especially keen for a good night’s sleep were the snow bunnies who had decided to arise early the next morning and take the cable car up to hit the ski slopes.
The rest of us (the tired, the sensible and the sick) enjoyed a lazy sleep-in and peaceful morning blob, accompanied by lashings of good food including Nicola’s most popular breakfast museli idea with lashings of warm berries on top.
A short walk around the small village later in the day in the crispy mountain air to view the quintessential chalets and snow clad jagged mountain peaks, was about excitement enough for my sleep-deprived self on the first day.
Champery Village turned out to be the most expensive place in Europe we have encountered for food. Apart from a night out in the village trying cheese fondant/fondue, and the occasional hot chocolate/coffee, we chose to buy groceries and cook in the apartment. Dining privately together around the large dining table in the apartment, generated a lovely sense of family well-being, which was especially precious after being apart for 8 long months so it was hardly a hardship to eat-in.
Unfortunately, our few days were dogged with sickness with two people quite unwell. However, between visits to the local pharmacy, and the sharing of prescribed medications (naughty, lol) and health remedies between us all (and with a little help from Dr Google to make sure no-one was actually being poisoned by the various cocktails we were cooking up), everyone was able to participate in the most important parts of our holiday, like New Year’s Eve and Cheese Fondue, even if the people in question were a little spaced out, lol.
Champery Village offered a New Year’s Eve disco on ice which roused the surprisingly keen (who would have thought?) ice-skaters amongst us. This was followed up by a fabulous street party where the french-speaking DJ mixed it up with an eccentric offering of euro pop/trash, remixed country (Country Roads!) and old skool chart-toppers (YMCA, I will survive). Despite the eclectic music, a surprisingly good boogie was has had by all. It was just such a wonderful, celebratory, party atmosphere surrounded by very enthusiastic Europeans who were intent on enjoying themselves and ensuring everyone around them was having fun too.
Paper lanterns were on offer for free at the street party. After a supreme team effort, we managed to send a few soaring skyward, with only a few mishap moments ,including the side of the lantern catching on fire, and the lantern flame-source parting company from the lantern and falling back down into the dance area. Fortunately though, it fell straight down onto clear ground and not onto someone’s head! The HR operations managers in our group (of which there were two of us, lol), were freaking out slightly re risk management, or lack thereof. The DJ only got a tad unhappy when a lighted paper lantern actually floated inside his little stage booth area and almost on top of his equipment!
Rather large-grade fireworks/rockets were also let off disconcertingly close to us a few times and we just hoped like heck that they were well secured to ensure they travelled upwards and didn’t zoom sideways into the street party. Somehow however, this all contributed to the crazy, zany atmosphere that conspired to make it one of the best New Year’s Eve partys ever!
Si (via his ongoing iPhone weather updates + a dose of positivity) fueled our hopes for snow in the village, and sure enough, it finally did snow overnight. We awoke one morning to a genuine winter wonderland (magical!), and the sound of snow ploughs clearing the roads and footpaths (not so magical).
The snow bunnies went off excitedly for a bluebird day on the slopes which included skiing/snowboarding into France for a significant part of the day. No passports required! They arrived back home in the dark, reporting it to be the best ever day on the slopes. Ever. Mount Hutt is sure gonna be a come-down in Winter 2013, lol.
The rest of us spent time wandering about or attending another session in the local cafe downing delicious, real-deal hot chocolates. Yes, the kind made from melted chocolate – not some Milo/Quik hot-chocolate pretender. Unfortunately, the cafe surroundings were rather hard on the eye, sporting a pretty dubious decor that had been further compromised by the addition of some weird Christmas decorations. As one of our group succinctly summarised, “it looks as though Christmas threw up in here”. A leetle harsh perhaps, but you get the picture. Well, in case you don’t “get the picture”, here are some pictures to assist you with getting the picture.
It took a lot of planning and quite a few months to organise and co-ordinate, but the fantastic family holiday time had together in London and Champery was indeed priceless..