Alps log: day 0

I’m nervous. Should all matters go wrong, here’s what this vacation looks like: I’m lost, lonely, and wet; my pack tries to drown me on land and my mutinous legs refuse to cross the Col de Pafleuri on day 6; my back is broken and I’m riding cable cars like a chump. Or not.

At the airport weigh-in, my full pack is 31.9 lbs. I throw my carry-on (camera, books) on the scale and I’m married to a 40lb behemoth for the next three weeks, sans water. Nice to meet you, Bertha. I swear on my future torn hip flexor that i am never again lugging an SLR up a mountain. Ugh.

At the gate, rain delay. I listen to French language tapes. I don’t speak a lick of French and I am mispronouncing every phrase “Raul” is telling me. What I really need is to hear at least four different French speakers say the same sentence, so that I may parse out the commonalities and distinguish important syllables, and ignore those aberrant phrasings that after Take #37 wherein the voice actor may have had gas, or is smoking a cigarette, or whatever circumstance that is now affecting my pronounciation of “hello I don’t speak french; where is the toilet?”. I believe this is how babies learn to speak.

This is my first time in Europe. I will admit I am sad to see this continental viriginity go. The cachet from travelling so much on less worn paths, to more developing nations, was addictive. You could argue I haven’t let it go totally.
After all, my inaugaral visit consists of me walking for fourteen days in the mountains, avoiding most major European cities. I do wonder what cultural diffferences await me on the other end. I’m compiling a list of common American expressions to avoid, those that surely will not sit well with the Continentals, given their history. The list ranges from: “Oh, don’t take such an entrenched position” to “I am so tired I could sleep through the Holocaust”.

It’s an overnight flight, and i have difficulty sleeping. We land safely on the runway, and then the plane confinues to drive forward. I remark how strange this is to my neighbor. By the time the plane hits the open highway, I realize I’m dreaming. When the plane pulls up to a hotel lobby, which is currently hosting a prom, I realize I am dreaming deliriously.

Touch down at 8:15. Stage 1 begins.

Because you are wondering, I am posting this using free wifi at the Chamonix tourism office. I am waiting for the damn camping store to open from its lunch break.


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