You will never believe from where I am writing this blog. McDonalds in Chamonix, France! The only good part of it is that I am in France. The McDonalds sucks. Large, crowded, no air conditioning. It has to be a 120 degrees in here. Many Europeans do not use deodorant. The fact is very obvious at the moment.
I am not complaining. Just sharing.
I went to Vodaphone in Novara. I should have known better. They are Verizon’s informal partner in Europe. I said sell me something that I can use in Italy that will act as my wi fi. No problem, I was told. Twenty euros later I had this little thing to plug in my computer. No wi fi number needed. Just type away!
My luck was consistent. It did not work. It will not work.
I stayed in a hillside Swiss chalet last night with no wi fi connection. I am in Chamonix this morning. I figured Chamonix would have all sorts of cafes and places with wi fi. Good luck! Everyone directed me to McDonalds. Wi fi! It works! However, the conditions under which I am writing leave something to be desired.
I am supposed to take a train or cable car to the top and over Mont Blanc into Switzerland later in the afternoon. There is a stop for lunch near the top. I will need the glacier to cool down.
Enough of the pain in the ass stuff. Now for the good stuff.
I drove to Courmayeur from Novara yesterday. A 3 1/2 hour drive. A different one. The speed limit was 130 kilometers. That translates to 135 miles per hour. I drove it! Sometimes as high as 150 miles per hour.
No special thrill involved. It is the same as driving 60-70 mph in the States. The difference I suspect would be if an accident occurred.
Would you believe that at 135 mph, everyone was passing me.
The drive was pleasant view wise. Early on, I entered into the Alps. The mountain chain starts small. The whole of each mountain was green with foliage and trees. Then a bit of brown started to appear high up. Dirt. The mountain had grown beyond the tree line. Then gray rock on top of the brown. Even higher. Then glaring white. Glaciers! Real high up!
I was also driving gradually up hill the whole way.
Castles galore. On both sides of the highway. One every mile or so. Each constructed on top of a steep rocky hill. Apparently to make it difficult for an enemy to attack the castle.
Keep in mind how close the castles were to each other. One mile. A half days horse ride From one to the other. Not difficult to engage in warfare at that distance. They frequently did back then.
The evening was outstanding!
Last year, I stayed on the outskirts of Courmayeur. I did not go into the center of town. Last night, I did. What beauty! What a wonderful place!
Picture streets for pedestrians only. No vehicular traffic. Each building styled like a Swiss chalet. Very smart boutiques, cafes and restaurants along the way.
All a pleasure to behold.
The people were different. Courmayeur is a high end place. People in summer attire. Not the summer attire I wear in Key West or saw in Athens or the Greek isles. Very few shorts here. Men and women in long slacks. The women in tight legged pants. The place reeked of money, money, and more money.
I was able to determine that most of those I saw were residents of Milan. They have second homes in Courmayeur to escape the summer heat and to ski in the winter.
Keep in mind that the Alps are all around. Mont Blanc with its glacier appeared close enough to touch.
What a setting!
I did two outdoor cafes. At each, the drinks were served with a bit of food. Free. Lazy susans were used. Ten inches in diameter. Loaded with goodies! Slices of pastrami, salami and ham. Different filled tiny puffs. Different kinds of finger sandwiches. Butter generally used on the them. Pizza. Tiny olive sandwiches. Little pieces of bread covered with goat cheese topped with apricot marmalade.
I had two gins at the first place. Ate 2 of the lazy susans all alone. At the second place, I finished again the whole thing. Completed my informal dining with a piece of cake. I had to pay for the desert.
I had gone to Courmayeur intending to have dinner. No way! I was stuffed! So was my pocketbook. The three gins, the piece of cake, and all the food goodies cost me a mere 18 euros.
I even learned bocce is popular.
Everything I saw is an inducement to return.
I met a woman. Everyone has a dog. The dogs were well trained and well groomed. At the table next to me at the first place were 6 people and 3 dogs. The dogs sat or laid by their masters and did not move. Except once. One of the three dogs was a large black curly haired one. He or she scooted over and under my table. Started sniffing my feet, then my legs, and was probably going for my crotch. The dog’s mistress pulled her dog back and apologized.
I suspect the dog was so trained.
We started talking.
What a lovely woman! Mid 50s to early 60s. Beautiful face. Short cropped hair. A well kept body. She was wearing tan riding trousers and a tight white shirt. The fit was perfect.
Her name Justine. A divorcee. Resides in Milan. She has an apartment in Coumayeur. We chatted quite a while. Enjoyed the moment and each other’s company. At the end, we exchanged e mails and telephone numbers.
Justine told me Courmayeur is considered the flower of Europe. She further told me that Christmas and New Years are especially exciting. On Christmas eve, skiers come down Mont Blanc holding candles. A sight to behold I was told.
So much for yesterday. Enough for today. The humidity is so heavy in this place that I am beginning to smell like my European compatriots.
Enjoy your day!