Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do not enter

By the time we completed two full days of snow boarding, we where exhausted. I don’t think that I ever fully recovered from the mountain bike race the day before. When it came time to check out and return the equipment, we hoped not to have to lug the boots, boards and bindings up the hill to the rental location.

Instead we hopped in the car and began circling up the village in search of the central commercial area. It had been easy to find on foot. Just go up the elevator, then take the sky bridge, then the escalator and finally the stairs to the back side of the mall.


The map was little help. An artists interpretation for the village had been used because it was difficult to adequately portray distance, given that the town was more vertical than horizontal. We wound up the roads but found no sign of our destination. Several times, I turned up one way streets and pulled into dead ends. Eventually, I found the sign for the Tourist Information center, I knew the right ski rental was nearby. We turned down a path, that was probably marked “do not enter.”

Val Thorens Village Map

Strangely, there was a big patch of snow on the road. Huh, no matter. Was that a skier behind us? Uh-oh, there are stairs in front of the car. Do you think we’ll make it down? Ok, it’s too late to back out now. And then, simply enough, we parked in front of the ski rental. Mary Ann started unloading the equipment, and I ran to scout an exit.

We found ourselves parked in the pedestrian only zone. The best way out seemed to be through an alley blocked by two delivery trucks. Eventually, Mary Ann tracked down the drivers, but there was still the matter of the locked municipal gate. Several passers by urged us not to test it. We tried unsuccessfully for several minutes to wedge the car between the extended bars. There was no choice but to go back up the way we came, up the stairs and over the ski run.

I was really nervous about the car, but the Pugeot didn’t have any problems. It would have been quite the advertisement. After it all, we were quite grateful to have escaped the situation without a ticket or any vehicle damage. Now there was just the matter of descending the steep mountain pass…

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