Last Sunday was a strange day for me. After arriving back in Amsterdam following a seventeen hour bus ride, feeling both exhausted and desperately in need of a shower and a change of clothes, I dropped my backpack on the floor and lay on my bed. And that’s when it hit me. I realized that I had just experienced what was quite possibly one the best weeks of my life. This was accompanied, though, with the realization that that week was now over, causing me to be in a very bittersweet mood for the next few days. On one hand, I got to look back on an incredible trip, filled with lasting memories, but at the same time, I had to come to grips with the fact that it was now a thing of the past.
Rewind ten days and I was just leaving Amsterdam and heading to Risoul, a small ski town in the French Alps. Unfortunately, I’ve never really been able to sleep while travelling and ended up staying wide awake listening to music for most of the long bus ride there, while almost everyone else around me was fast asleep. At around 6:30 in the morning, I awoke after having drifted off briefly and almost did a double take at what I saw. An hour earlier we were on some dark, boring highway in the middle of nowhere, but now the sun was rising and we were right smack in the middle of the Alps. Despite how tired I felt, I forced myself to stay awake and enjoy the view, something that I’ll never forget. For the next three hours, I sat there and simply starred out the window as the bus floated along a series of hairpin roads, passing through beautiful little towns and valleys and ascending up the mountains. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on me at the time though, and don’t have any pictures as a result. None the less, the drive alone was a memorable experience and anyone who’s driven through a mountain range before, hopefully understands what I’m talking about.
Eventually we reached Risoul and after going through the pain in the ass that is unloading 150 people from a bus and organizing all their gear, luggage, accommodations etc, we started skiing. Almost immediately, I forgot that I had only slept an hour the night before, slapped my skis on and spent the rest of the day on the mountain. Overall, the weather was quite nice and the conditions were solid as well, although I was a little bit surprised at the lack of snow. The next day, however, this all changed. In one day, Risoul managed to accumulate well over one metre of snow, which was probably more than I had ever seen in my life. The entire resort was completely buried and a lot of the staff couldn’t make it up the mountain for work. This, coupled with high avalanche risks, meant that most of the lifts were closed the next day and skiing was limited. However, on a positive note, we had a ton of snow and fresh powder to enjoy! Mother nature seemed to co-operate for most of the week as well, leading to great weather and skiing conditions overall.
The rest of the week started to quickly become routine. Wake up, ski all day, enjoy happy hour/some apres ski and a balcony party or two (cheap beer and a beautiful patio with a couple hundred people and a dj dancing everyday after skiing really became something to look forward to lol), squeeze a nap in, eat dinner, party all night before grabbing a few hours of sleep and then finally, repeat. While this certainly got taxing after a while and was challenging at times, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Otherwise, there’s really not a whole lot else I can think to say about the trip except for the fact that my ski jacket was unfortunately stolen on the last night (my hand knit Norwegian ski sweater kept me surprisingly warm the next day though lol) and to briefly recall my little accident. That is, the afternoon I face planted into a pile of powder and twisted my leg to the point that it hurt too much for me to continue skiing. Having no other real options, I took my skis off and proceeded to walk down the hill in snow up to my waist. In total, this ended up being an exhausting hour and twenty minutes and although I wouldn’t want to do it again, recalling the story puts a smile on my face and definitely provided my friends and I with a good laugh!
All in all, my week in the French Alps was among the best of my life. While it may not have involved me visiting a bunch of renowned tourist sites and travelling around from place to place, like a more typical trip would, I got to meet incredible people, party my face off and ski until I could ski no more. Best of all though, I got to walk away with a lasting memory that I’ll never forget.