All posts filed under: Travel

Day Three – Les Chapieux to Courmayeur

(19kms…6 hours) Another great start to the day, with a breakfast of muesli, the freshest croissants ever, home made yoghurt, and a multitude of different breads and fruits. We had time for a quick wander around town and a team photo by a wonderful two story stone barn before being bused up the narrow winding lane to our start. We had a slow steady climb in the morning which was meant to provide stunning views of Mont Blanc for the first time but with the weather slowly deteriorating we lost our views and discovered the variables of weather in the alps as the rain slowly built. After three false starts on whether to put on the wet weather gear or not, we were finally kitted out but not before a few of us got wet with our indecision, lesson learnt. With weather gear on, we continued up the hill till we reached a saddle in the mountain which was the border between France and Italy. Luckily the rain dissipated and we were able to see …

Day Two – Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

(8.5 hours…21km’s) After a restful nights sleep, weary aching joints staggered down to a great breakfast, before heading off at 8am. Ismael claims today to be the most difficult day of the walk with over 1200 metres of ascent, and 900 metres of descent, food for thought as the body warms up. The Mont Blanc circuit is essentially 10 days of climbing from the valley up over mountain passes, and back towards the valley each day. Total ascent is about 10,000 metres, and the same descent. Basically we are going up and down big hills as we sort of circle the Mont Blanc Massif, the group of glacier fields surrounding Mont Blanc itself. From Les Contamines at 1170m we climbed slowly and steadily up to Croix du Bonhomme at 2443m, through beautiful pine forest, into low covered flooring all with breathtaking scenery to elevate the aches and groans of protesting muscles and joints. The path we are taking this morning is an old Roman road and the highlight of the morning was crossing an ancient …

Day One – Chamonix to Les Contamines

Day One – (7 hours…16 km approx) Finally the day we start walking arrives, after two years in the making and many training sessions up and down hills, stairs and ramps! An early start with breakfast at 7.30, and on our way at 8am to Les Houches by mini bus, and the cable car to our much anticipated start at La Chalette, but not before plenty of photos to commemorate the moment. The morning was a mix of beautiful pine forest trails, short steep climbs and descents: fields of low shrubs with wild blueberry bushes carpeting the floor. A cable bridge crossing at the Passerelle du Glacier was a highlight, especially for Kate and Rach who may not like heights! More up and down, then a great lunch of potato omelette and green salad at the beautiful Refuge de Miage. Most agreed that the morning had been tougher than expected, with legs taking time to acclimatize to the steep terrain. The weather was mild to warm, producing buckets of sweat, as glutes hammies and quads …

Annecy to Chamonix

We left stunning Annecy in mid afternoon by bus, arriving in Chamonix at about 5.30. We were met by a few of our crew and hiked out to our hotel which is a little out of town, as the biggest endurance event in Europe climaxes today. The UTMB ultra endurance races around the Mont Blanc region, including a 160km run around the same route we will be taking. Our walk takes 10 days, the winner of the ultra marathon took 20 hours! Lots of undernourished, skinny people staggering around town as our crew chowd down on pizza/pasta/hamburger & and or steak at a restaurant in the centre of the village. Chamonix is quite a large town, with a vibrant shopping/restaurant/cafe strip, and a typical holiday vibe. It was great to finally be all together, as we rounded out our walking crew with Gemma & Liz, who have been in Italy for a few days, and Denise & Dan straight from Oz. After a busy evening we only have one full day in Chamonix, spent wandering …

Berlin to, Annecy via Geneva

A very early start today, courtesy of a 7am flight to Geneva. Up at 4.30, taxi out the front at 5, airport by 5.30. Diabolical coffee and stale croisants had us reminiscing already of the great coffee culture Berlin has. That and a wonderful U-Bahn system, funky culture and a love of drinking beer…everywhere and anytime! Berlin has been great, too short, but tremendously interesting. We got Geneva at 8.30 and met Rachael’s brother, Declan, or universally know as Specks, and went down to the lake to have breakfast, with another weird coffee concoction. Our bus was 40 minutes late, and border passport checks caught out one miscreant, further delaying us another 30 mins, so we were very pleased to finally get to Annecy at about 3.30. Time to meet up with another of our trekking group, Cards, and a quick beer before our apartment was ready, and what a place it is. Right on the canal in the middle of the old town. Brownie points galore for moi! The girls, Kate, Rachel, Maddy and …

One more dash around Berlin

How quickly it rushes by, before you know it your time is almost up in Berlin! We’re re-covering a bit of territory today, and hoping to just wander a bit. First call is coffee and breakfast, then by U-Bahn to our first drop, Topographie des Terrors, which tells the story, in all its chilling detail, of the rise of the Nazi Party. Housed on the block where Nazi Germany’s most feared instituions – the security services, the Gestapo and the SS once stood, it is a sobering reminder of what can happen when democracy does astray. The remains of the former torture cells are used to mount an exhibition chronicling Nazi war crimes, especially against the Jews. Somber stuff, the whole place is jam packed with information, quite overwhelming in its detail. Pretty essential viewing! Keeping the theme going, we traveled to the mainly Jewish centre, formerly Spandauer Vorstadt,  just north of centre. Walking the streets we passed the Grosse Hamburger Memorial to concentration victims, right outside the rusty gates to the old Jewish Cemetery, …