We should have gone to Crete. That’s how we’re going to remember Christmas 2010.
Ok, let me go back a bit. Or a lot. Unfortunately, I can’t simply write up a breezy little bulleted list with pretty photos to convey our low points. Perhaps that’s because in the last few months they’ve seemed to us more like long low stretches that fill up the space between th0se sparkly discrete points that are our vacations and visits with friends.
In other words, day-to-day life in Paris lately has been a real slog.
The expression I used in one of my rare 2010 posts sums it up: Metro, Boulot, Dodo. Far too many evenings spent flaked out in front of the TV or some torrent, trying to forget work and the growing pile of paperasserie on the desk. Really, is this so different from being a wage slave anywhere else in the western world?
Obviously, we needed to change, to find our Systeme D (for Débrouillard: resourceful) which everyone insists is the Secret for Surviving in France.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time
Anyways, amongst the usual stuff–look for new work, eat better, exercise more, find new work, yadda, yadda, yadda…. one of my brilliant ideas was to go skiing over the holidays in Austria. I still had 5 flex days I needed to use up by the end of the year, since our planned off-season holiday in Crete for November had fallen though. We both love to ski, we craved fresh air & open space, and we were looking for something different after two years in a row of Christmas in HerrKaa’s quiet hometown in Germany.
Have you ever tried to book a Christmas holiday with less than a month lead time? And to go to a country that eschews credit cards? Let’s just say the travel arrangements did not bring on the Christmas cheer.
Then we got caught up in the snow-chaoas that hit Europe just before Xmas. Our 2 hour flight out of Paris was delayed 3 hours, which in turn sent off a chain reaction of missed connections so that instead of celebrating Christmas at the 4-star hotel with 5-course supper I’d reserved at the resort, we were in a dark, deserted motel in an industrial suburb of Salzburg, beside a highway and across the street from a gas station. And we were extremely lucky compared to those poor sods camping in freezing tents outside of Heathrow.
But the next day we made it to the resort easily enough, found our rental condo and got our rental skis, huffing & puffing a bit at the unaccustomed elevation (the village is at 1800 m). Alas, we had barely started to relax when after lunch on Day 2, I over-ambitiously suggested skiing off piste in the powder. Within seconds Snap! went the anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee and with it all hopes for a relaxing week of shushing in the snow and Austrian après-ski.
So the rest of the week was a whir of pre-op, op, and post-op activities in the company of brusquely efficient Teutonic nurses.
HerrKaa did manage a few hours of skiing each day but spent the rest of the time being my nursemaid. And on top of it all, he developed a tooth infection around the same time I had surgery so by the end of the week we were both in pretty rough shape, swollen and feverish and haggard.
And then, after a week of No New Snow, the Sunday we headed back to the airport there was a blizzard – the kind where the police shut the roads because of all the vacationers who drive in summer tires without chains to a ski resort at 1800 m, and who were now strewn along the snowy banks of the highway like metallic beached whales.
Thus our 20 min taxi trip stretched to over an hour and was late connecting with the airporter bus, already 3/4 full of passengers worried about missing their flight. The minute we boarded, the anxious driver gunned it. Suddenly I was thrown sideways with all my weight on my bad leg and then backwards onto an elderly German couple.
But soon knee panic was overtaken by sheer panic: I don’t know what these poor drivers are threatened with if they’re late, but the snow had created a traffic jam on the Autobahn so the driver first switched to a twisty moutainside secondary road. He kept asking passengers for updates on the Autobahn, which was just visible on the other side of the valley. The little tyke sitting in front of me quickly became bus-sick.
Then back on the Autobahn, we hit another traffic jam whereupon he simply drove this massive coach full-speed along the shoulder, prompting righteous Austrian drivers to deliberately drive into the shoulder ahead of him as a as a blatant reprimand. As the coach would approach,the hatchback he was about to pass would edge closer to the shoulder line….Ugh ugh ugh. HerrKaa reminded me to use my good leg to brace in case of impact.
Why did I suggest skiing over Xmas? And why in far-off Austria when there are so many resorts in France? Hell, what was wrong with a nice cold Christmas at home in Paris?
Fortunately, once in Salzburg Airport things picked up – for me at least. HerrKaa told Lufthansa about my gimped state which ensured wheeled transport through all 3 airports that day – a real lifesaver for traversing Frankfurt. Before we took off from Salzburg I pestered him to phone the surgeon, who reassured me that the fall I had would not cause a rupture and that I just needed to ice & elevate. That erased all my panic, leaving me to enter a peaceful, near-catatonic state for the rest of the trip while HerrKaa was finally allowed to fully wallow in his own misery of fever, aching teeth, and puffy face.
Vive les vacances!