Monday, March 24, 2008

Skiing in the alps

Last week I went to France for a few days since Eastern in Norway is a big holliday. Despite some problems with my return flight (read previous post), it was an amazing experience.
I went to a little village called "Le Freney d'Oisans", very near to two main ski stations: "Les deux alpes" and "Alpe d'huez". I stayed at a hotel called "Le Cassini", and that by itself was a wonderful experience. I've traveled a lot and I was totally surprised by this hotel. It is simply excellent. It is a little hotel (not more than 20 rooms I think), it is very comfortable and the food is simply superb. I look forward to the next skiing season since I'm going back.
Now coming to the point of skiing: I simply have no words. It was amazingly incredible. I skied on "Les deux alpes" both days, and I had very different conditions. On Thursday, the sun was shining and the snow was perfect. I went to the glaciar (3200m), and I skied all the way down. I skied for about 8 hours and it was simply perfect. When going down, the "easy" way was closed because there was not enough snow, so I had to take a black slope called "The Valentin". It was very hard, very steep and above all incredible large. However, I managed to survive it.
On Friday, it was a totally different situation. There was a "small" snow storm, and everything that had little snow was now totally covered. Very good since many other slopes were ready to be used, but not so good since the wind was strong and the visibility was very bad. However I decided to go ahead and I went again all the way to the glaciar. It was a totally different place, the wind was blowing and the visibility was very reduced. I had to buy new lenses in the shop at the restaurant near the glaciar since mine were not up to the task. After a nice hot chocolate I decided to go down and I found out (not surprisingly) that most slopes were closed for safety reasons, however there was one slope open so me and some other people there went down that way. It was an amazing experience, going down the mountain with the snow falling, very limited visibility and a strong wind was simply superb. I mean, it was really tiring and it took almost two hours to get to where we were going, but it was totally worth it. After that, I ate a pizza at the restaurant and then continued my way down to the town. Luckily when I got to the last slope, the easy slope was open because I was too tired to even think about taking the black slope again.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I look forward to do it again. But next time I'll stay for at least a week there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mental Note: Don't ever fly on KLM again!

I have flown on KLM two or three times, and in Air France two or three times also. Before and after AF adquired KLM. However flying with KLM has never been a pleasant experience and today they just confirmed it.
I flew to France for a short break last tuesday on Air France and I returned today on KLM. To start with the problems they charge me for my skies! When I went to France on Air France I was able to carry my skies for no extra cost. But when returning the lady at the check in told me that in KLM I'm only allowed to carry 20kgs in total, since my skies weight about 7.5kgs + ski boots 3kgs + clothing I was clearly over the limit. Notice that KLM and Air France are theorically the same company, so why the hell rules are different? Since I didn't have a choice I paid (60 euros!), and I expected to be the last of my problems. I should have expected more troubles since they only give me a ticket to Amsterdam and they told me to check in again in Amsterdam (my route was Paris-Amsterdam-Oslo), but since I'm optimistic I didn't think about that.
When in Amsterdam I was directed to the transfer center where a lady explained to me that my flight was oversold by 15 persons, so they would try to find me a place.... way to go, they could have just given me a inflatable boat and told me to sail my way back to Norway....
I arrived at the gate, and the lady there found me a spot, so I thought the worst is over, what could go wrong now?............ Of course, lots of things....
Before departure, a lady came and ask me how many pieces of luggage I had check-in and I told her two. She asked me for the numbers since they were about to unload one package because they didn't know who was the owner (Dear Airline managers, you ask all these questions when you book, then you ask them again when you check-in, and in my case they asked me again when I paid for something that it was supposed to be free, so HOW THE HELL YOU DON'T KNOW WHO WAS THE OWNER!?).... I checked my luggage numbers and what do you know? They were about to unload my skies.... At that time I was really beginning to wonder about the possibility of sailing my way back...
Finally we got to Oslo, and I was just starting to feel better when...... they lost half of the plane's luggage..... don't ask me how, don't ask me why... one would think that finding luggage in a small plane like the 737 is not a big problem, specially since there were no connections between Amsterdam and Oslo but they managed to do it.... So, me and half of the plane were waiting and asking questions at the luggage service and they gave us some forms to fill-in. Boy, I was pissed off at that time, and I just wanted to go home and forget about all of this. Luckily I started filling the form and waited for about 40 minutes because somehow they found the other half of the luggage.
So in short, remembering my previous experiences with KLM and topping everything with today I decided that I will avoid flying on KLM as much as I can, and if I was you I would do it too.
Weird side note, how the hell Air France and KLM are so freaking different? I mean, everytime I 've flown on Air France I have had a very pleasant experience but everytime I go on KLM problems start. Dear Air France Big Kahuna, could you tell your KLM colleague/underling/whatever to improve their service? Since now you own KLM I guess you have some kind of power to change things. A very humble request.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cabin trip

This weekend I went in our company's annual "Cabin Trip". It was perfect, we went to a nice location outside Oslo (about 2 hours) and we stayed there friday afternoon, saturday and half sunday. It was perfect!
I had so much fun, I skied saturday from 9:30 to 16:40+ (actually they stopped the ski-lift with me and one colleague still on it), and sunday I started at around 10:00 and finished at 13:30. I'm really tired, but it was totally worth it.
Of course we have two parties at night (and the corresponding after parties!) but for me the best was skiing and enjoying the fresh air on the mountains.
I look forward for the next trip, and I hope that I can make the same thing in France for eastern, since I'm going there and I haven't decided what to do. I know that I want to spend a couple of days in the alps and a couple of days in Paris. My plane goes to Paris, and then I plan to take a train to east/southern France to go to the Alps. To be totally honest I never thought that skiing was so much fun.