Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The epic journey to the Pyrenées...

It's been a while. A long while.

Over a month.

What's happened in that time?

1. Pas de la Casa Snowboard trip.
2. Another week off between Christmas and New Year.
3. 2011.
4. More Boris Bike shenanigans.
5. Vaujany Ski trip.

Let's start with 1.

It was a Christmas trip. As usual, we were due to travel just after the SantaSkate party, meaning not much sleep beforehand. The weather was looking iffy so I subscribed to the BAA text update service so I'd get a text to confirm the flight was scheduled.
It had snowed quite a lot but my text message arrived, saying the flight was scheduled.
So we stayed in Battersea the night before the flight (which was at 7am or so from Heathrow Terminal 5). The Addison Lee cab turned up, and for some reason charged us £100 to get to the airport. From Battersea. WTF?? I will never use them again. A black cab would have been cheaper.
So we get to the airport, all 5 of us, only to discover that all flights have been cancelled due to snow. Great. We were screwed, or so we thought. I stood there for a while wondering what to do. One friend ran around in a bit of a panic, getting annoyed. Another friend was preparing to accept that he'd lost his money, and another friend went to the British Airways desk (or rather the queue for it) to try and find out what was going on. The BA friend also suggested calling the tour operator. This proved to be a genius idea. A quick check of the website got us their number, so I called to see if there was anything they could do.
A nice lady answered the phone at 6am (on a Sunday) and said they'd called the travel agent the night before and left a message asking if we wanted to fly from Gatwick instead, as they had anticipated problems at Heathrow. Unfortunately this message was never relayed to me.
Aaaanyway. She said to me that they had chartered a flight from Birmingham airport, and that if we could get to Birmingham in time for the 1pm flight we'd be on it. I told her I'd call back, ran across the terminal to where everyone was waiting and told them about our new adventure.
We left the terminal the same way we came in, heading for the drop-off point. The queue for taxis was immense so it was out of the question. A nice Polish minicab driver agreed to take us to Euston for £60. A bargain compared to the £100 from Battersea to the airport. We all got on board and in next to no time we were at Euston Station buying train tickets. £40 each later, we were on the train. Things seemed to be going well. Until we got to Rugby. Apparently the train had been delayed not due to snow, but because of overrunning engineering work. We sat there for over an hour, expecting to miss the flight.
We got to the airport with 5 minutes to go before check-in closed, ran to the check-in desk to find that they didn't know about us. They contacted the ticket desk and all seemed to be going well until they noticed a couple of our ski bags. £25 each later and we were checked in, but it wasn't over yet. We didn't have much time before our flight was due to take off, so we ran past most of the queue for security and got to the departure lounge.
But the flight was delayed, for another 2 hours. Eventually we took off, and landed in Toulouse, 10 hours later than we had expected. This was a pretty good job, considering most people were not able to fly at all.
Unfortunately when we got to Pas de la Casa it was apparent that there was more snow in London than there was in the ski resort. There was enough to have a good time though, and we made the most of it. Then the storms came. First a powerful wind blowing most of the snow off the mountain. Then the rain, turning what was left into sheet ice. Then came the blizzards, making the conditions freezing in the air and on the ground. The result of all of this though, was that the last 2 days were 2 of the best powder days I've seen in years. We were snowboarding off-piste, making our own individual tracks in the snow just like you see in the cool snowboard videos in the pub.
All in all it was a great holiday. Yay!
And I've just realised this is a really really long blog post, so I'll write about 2, 3, 4 and 5 in subsequent posts rather than here.

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