It Doesn’t Always Go As Planned (Chamonix, France Part Deux)

Together we fly. The three of us as planned. We dodged a bullet, the stars aligned, etc. We expected to check into our Airbnb and fall asleep early since we were scheduled to get into Geneva Thursday evening  Once again, we thought everything would just fall into place and before we knew it we would be standing atop the Aiguille du Midi awaiting our descent.

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While waiting for our baggage, we became friendly with a skier from Boston who happened to be heading to the same area as us. She wasn’t sure how she was getting to her location from the airport, so why not pay it forward. We went through hell to get on this plane, so let’s help her out and offer her a ride. This was in hopes to get good luck back on our side, but no. More to come on this experience later in the blog.

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Now, remember from our last blog (link) I mentioned we had to move our guided descent from Saturday to Friday? Well, we thought that plan was finalized. Upon landing in Geneva we came to learn that we didn’t exactly confirm our booking and change of date. Our last correspondence with the guiding company went something like this:

What time should we meet our guide at the gondola? 9 or 10?

In previous emails, we indicated that we were ok with the date change, but apparently, they needed to read a firm “yes” to the meeting time. We assumed one “yes” was sufficient as we nonchalantly shrugged the meeting time off as,

“it’s Europe, 9 or 10 am, doesn’t matter. That’s how they do it here.”

We were wrong. Maybe we were still so absorbed in our own jubilation of actually making the flight together that we overlooked this minor (actually, major) detail. Our bad.

When we landed in Geneva we promptly found out that we didn’t have a guide for Friday.

You can’t make this stuff up! Maybe we weren’t meant to be here? Maybe we should have just gone to Colorado? Our wives are quietly laughing because we look like amateurs!

Contrary to our approach with the airline employee, we went in the offensive position.

What do you mean we don’t have a guide? This is crazy! We told you we were ok with the date change! You have to be kidding me!

No luck.

It’s around 6 pm on Thursday and we still don’t have a guide for the Vallée Blanche tomorrow morning. Maybe we should have pushed for Sunday, just so we didn’t have to deal with the headache of trying to arrange a guide the rest of the evening.

I got an idea! Tell them we are travel bloggers and we had hopes of writing a post about the Vallée Blanche!

Of course, this is true, hence the blog you are reading, but I do feel a little ashamed having to tactically disclose that information for selfish reasons. Is it right? I don’t know, but it’s honest. At least we weren’t lying to them. Anyways, shortly after disclosing that information we were graced with a call from the owners’ wife. She stated that she is doing everything she can to find a guide but since the weather is bad on Saturday, the whole valley is trying to do the same as us. After an hour or two of back and forth, she gladly informed us that she was able to find a guide by the name of Bruno.

Another storm weathered!

We had strict instructions to meet him at the front of the Aiguille du Midi gondola at 815 am.

Deal! We will be there!

Driving to Chamonix in our over-packed car took only 1.5 hours. Dropped off our traveling friend at her apartment, a piece of cake. Getting into our Airbnb apartment, not so cake. By the time we arrived in Chamonix it was about 9 pm and all we wanted was a quick meal and our beds. We suffered enough from the peaks and valleys of anger/adrenaline and we were wiped.

Keeping up with the theme of our travels, getting into our Airbnb became a hassle. The hosts couldn’t have been nicer, but they expected us to arrive around 7 pm and here we are at 9 pm. Instructions were to go thru the double doors and grab the key in the mailbox that was left unlocked, then proceed to the hallway immediately to the right, it’s the last door on the left. Sounds great, except the double doors were locked so there was no access to the mailbox.

Of course! First the flight, then the guide, now the apartment. Commence rise in anger!

Long story short, about an hour later and dozens of phone calls, we resorted to ringing all the neighbor’s buttons in hopes of getting just one soul to prop the door open for us. Not a proud moment, but if you were in our shoes it was more realistic than putting a rock through the glass door.

Have you ever seen the scene in Elf, where Will Ferrell pushes all the buttons on the elevator to look like a Christmas tree? Yea, picture me doing that to everyone’s doorbells. No shame!

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At last, we finally arrived. Unpacked our car, sat in our room and decompressed…

Guys, where is my backpack? ….You know the one with my passport, wallet, camera gear, laptop and my life in it!

At this point, I’m about to vomit. Where could it be? As we retrace our steps, Mike (my brother) is convinced he took it out with the Bostons girls bags and placed it in her apartment.

You have to be kidding me, this day could not get any worse.

Luckily one of us got her number and called. And called. And called again… No luck.

I’m panicking at this point.

We know where she is staying, let’s just head back and see. We arrive and it seems that no one is there, but get this, the door was unlocked. Luck was on my side for this one. We snuck in, and there it was left right where my brother dropped it off, fully intact.  At this point, my nerves are fried, pissed off, panic-stricken, what a way to start my travels.

Hey, I got an idea, we need some beers. It’s been a looong day. But remember, we need to be good boys, and not over indulge.

Like everything else during the past 24 hours, that didn’t really go as planned. I believe we stumbled back to our apartment (pints in hand) around 3-330am. We are meeting our guide at 8 am. Go us!

Somehow we were able to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The adrenaline and anticipation were probably the reason. Derek rents a snowboard before 8 am? Check. Eat some croissants? Check. Meet our guide? Check.

We are at the gondola and the Vallée Blanche is nearly in sight!

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Moral here: Not everything goes as planned. Life isn’t perfect and travel won’t be either. Learn to roll with it and enjoy the experience. It’s better than being at home. It’s better than being stuck in the office. It’s an adventure.

Want some insider tips on how to secure a gondola ride

and a guide for the Vallée Blanche?

Well, we know what not to do now!

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