Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

This winter, Pav and I hit a few travel milestones and some travel firsts (somewhat unexpected). We had originally planned a family ski holiday in Avoriaz, France, which didn’t quite pan out as we imagined it. First, it was just the two of us without the rest of the family and, second, we had no snow to actually ski on. Which made for quite an interesting holiday.

We arrived in Avoriaz on Dec 31st, 2017 definitely ready to greet 2017 with a big hug. We got there around 4 PM after quite a few delays due to freezing fog, which was present across all airports we visited (we flew Prague-Brussels-Geneva). As we were driving towards Avoriaz our transfer driver suddenly pointed to a cliff and said “Up there is where you’re staying.” My first thought was that I’m glad I’m not afraid of heights.

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Immediately after got dropped off and checked in (which took all of 10 minutes), we put our suitcases into our room and decided to go explore. We put on our fleeces (yes, it was too warm for our ski jackets in the mountains) and went outside.

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We immediately got a stunning view of the valley below us, the sunset and the town. Our mission was simple – find a place to ring in 2017. After a couple attempts at finding a restaurant, I finally spoke to the owner of a small pizzeria and he told us to come at 7PM. Not a minute later or he wouldn’t seat us. With that, we turned to go back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out.

That night, we had tartiflette and some sort of potatoes with cheese and assorted hams, saw the fireworks (by complete accident we ended up being right across from them when they happened) and made friends with a couple of the local bartenders. Everyone we met that night made sure to warn us not to ski due to the terrible conditions of ice and artificial snow, so we decided to heed their warnings and reconsider the skiing in the morning.

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We welcomed 2017 with all the glory it deserves, so we ended up spending January 1st in our hotel. In the evening, we took a short walk up to the top of our nearest slope to see what the snow conditions were for ourselves. There was plenty of artificial snow, but we still decided to wait.

Instead we spent the following days hiking, going to the water park, visiting Morzine and doing other mountain activities. Keep your eyes open for more articles, which will come soon!


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Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix

It has been a while since our trip to Monaco (two years, to be precise), but it left an amazing impression. Since the Monte Carlo Grand Prix is to take place this weekend, it’s a good time to impose some wisdom and share our experiences, in case any of you are going.IMG_2990

We made it a long weekend event – flying out on Thursday and coming back on Monday morning. We opted to stay in Nice, France, which is just a short drive away from Monte Carlo. This was a great decision, because the picturesque city was stunning and offered refuge from the Grand Prix craziness that was going on in Monaco. Our hotel was on the side of a mountain, overlooking the city and the coast.

Our first day came with a mission – go to Monaco and pick up our Grand Prix tickets. Simple, right? Well, not really. We found parking and started walking towards the ticket stands. And here comes tip #1:

Tip #1: Carefully look up maps and road closings, navigation during the Grand Prix is difficult and you may end up in a bunch of dead ends!

Tip #2: get GPS for your car or data on your phone for navigation
DSC_5687So, we did a lot of up and down walking to get to the ticket stand. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and we got to admire the beautiful views that the city offers. We also watched a little bit of the Formula 3 race.

DSC_5704After picking up tickets (and buying team merch), we had plenty of time left in the day to explore. We hopped into the car and drove back to France, along the coast. We went past Nice, drove by Cannes, and into the small city of Frejus. Our initial goal was St. Tropez but that ended up being a bit too far. In Frejus, we visited the ruins of an ancient amphitheater and took a stroll on the beach. The coast was absolutely beautiful and if we had time, we definitely would have loved to visit more of the coastal towns. In Frejus, we got hungry, so we stopped by for drinks and tapas, which tasted great.

We then ended the day with dinner in the rooftop restaurant of Radison Blu Nice, which, again, had great food and views.

On Saturday, we went back to Monte Carlo to watch the qualifiers for Sunday’srace. We checked out our seats – Grandstand O, above the water and facing the city. We could see the pit lane, as well as parts of the finish line.DSC_5806

We decided to go for lunch in the immediate area, which proved to be a mistake, as everything was full and restaurants were not up to speed.
Sunday was race day! You could feel the excitement in the air. We got there early to see all the pre race events, including the drivers’ parade. Then we had lunch on the stands with food that was sold there (lines insane, but it wasn’t worth it to go back into town again).

TIP #3: bring tanning lotion! You’ll need it so that you don’t end up looking like a crab.

And then the race began! Since it was my first race, I was initially worried about recognizing the drivers, but it wasn’t an issue. It was so much fun to watch and hang out there. We loved it. When the race was over, we got to walk across the race track and as we were leaving, we heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was meeting the drivers and congratulating them! It was almost hard to tell who was more starstruck. Sadly, we didn’t see it happen.DSC_5875

After that, we left Monaco, went to the hotel to change and for dinner. This time, we got dinner in a small restaurant in a village on the other side of the cliff that our hotel was on. There were very few people and the food was, once again, amazing.

Sadly, that was it for our trip and we left early in the morning on Monday. We absolutely loved this trip and definitely recommend it to anybody!


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Air France/Delta Review

I’ve always had an up and down relationship with Air France. They have reasonable prices and their flight times usually work for me really well, but there are many issues with them otherwise. I just flew from Boston to Prague with Air France and the flight was operated by Delta. I always consider that the worst case scenario, because it usually means old planes, ok food, and ok in-flight entertainment. And, sadly enough,  they did not fail to meet my expectations this time either.

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Pre-Flight

The pre-flight procedures go pretty well with Air France. You get an email that reminds to you to check in, which is very useful. However, one thing that anyone who has an allergy has to keep in mind, is that you have to order a special meal before you check in (more than 30 hours ahead of time) but you can’t order a special meal when buying the tickets. So please keep that in mind, because they cannot help you! Other than that, check in and baggage drop off is straight-forward and quick. At the gate, the staff ran into a slight issue, because their announcement was not clear, so, many people lined up to talk to them at the desk. Since the staff had to deal with so many people, you could tell they were getting frustrated with all the customers.

 

Flight

IMG_8886The flight itself was ok. The airplane had pretty decent legroom, so at even when the person in front of me put their seat down, I still had room. One issue several people had, including me, was that the individual lights were not pointed at the correct seats. I saw three people get up and try to fix it. They all gave up rather quickly and sat back down in the darkness. So much for “the lights in the cabin will be dimmed during take off, but feel free to turn on your individual lights”.

The rest of the flight went pretty well, some turbulences, but nothing too bad. The flight attendants were really nice and helpful and for the first time on Air France, they were not completely shocked that I didn’t speak French, and even remembered I spoke English the next time they came around.

 

Food

Food was kind of sad. That usually happens with my gluten-free meal though. The best part of my meal was applesauce, although the applesauce was a great surprise addition to the meal! One thing that Air France really has going for it, is wine. They have really good wine, which I definitely enjoyed!

One more quick reminder! If you have an allergy, make sure you order the meal ahead of time! The woman next to me didn’t and then she was struggling to find something to eat, because of her fish allergy.

 

In-flight EntertainmentIMG_8883

In-flight entertainment was kind of sad. The screens were tiny, smaller than an iPad mini, if you want a visual reference. I may have been spoiled by Emirates and Swiss Air, but I also felt like Air France does not have a large selection of movies and TV shows. Even though they had some new movies, recent movies and even some old movies, in general the choices were not great. On top of that, the sound seemed to be a little messed up. The soundtrack is overpowering and loud, to the point where you can’t hear the dialogue, so even though I tried to watch a movie, half the time I did not understand what any of the characters said.

 

Overall Air France was pretty decent this time. I was just glad they did not lose my luggage this time, because out of the past four trips I took with them, they lost my stuff three times. Let us know what you think about Air France and if you had better experiences.


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