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Friday, 31 December 2004
Happy New Year!

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And you thought all spiders had 8 legs?  Seems this is not the case in Switzerland.

Gregorian New Year greetings to everyone. After a 6 hour drive (plus stoppage-, and Channel tunnel-time) we made it back to Oxted.  On the way I managed to shed my wallet of most of its Euros. I don’t think bluemeanie was as lucky. However I have too many Swiss francs left. 

Firework time ...

Posted by bigblue on 31/12/2004 at 11:59 PM
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Thursday, 30 December 2004
Leysin - 08h00

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As you can see conditions were clear in Leysin this morning with no mist and a lot less cloud over the opposite mountains than yesterday. It was about -2C outside, and after breakfast we packed the car, checked out of the hotel and then headed off to the village where we arbed around for an hour or so.  Then we hit the road back to Haguenau.  It was amazing to see the cars streaming up the hill in the opposite direction as we left Leysin. The main parking areas in the town were full of skiers, and they opened extra parking at the sports centre (serviced with a shuttle bus to the cable-car station).

After just over four hours of driving (and a bit more elapsed time) we were in Haguenau, and extremely hungry.  Which is when we discovered that it is impossible to find a restaurant open at 4 PM, unless it is McDo or a Turkish kebab shop.  Eventually we drove off to Strasbourg where we caught an Italian supper and then a movie - Ocean’s 12, VOST (Version Originale Sous-Titre).

Posted by bigblue on 30/12/2004 at 11:29 PM
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Wednesday, 29 December 2004
Leysin - 17h30

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Here’s the same view as the last entry, showing the lights of the town of Aigle in the valley below. The conditions were very clear today and we could even see Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) from the top cable car station, although le Mont Blanc was shrouded in clouds .  Tomorrow we leave Leysin and head back to Haguenau again.  According to the receptionist the roads should be better gritted by then, but next time we come I am bringing chains!

Posted by bigblue on 29/12/2004 at 06:46 PM
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Leysin - 08h00

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This morning the snow had stopped falling, and it started clearing. We even had breakfast in the sunshine. We were exhausted this morning and struggled to get moving.  Then I found I couldn’t get the car up the icy road to the cable-car station. In the end we went back to the hotel and took the shuttle bus. We followed the same routine as yesterday: two lessons with Keiko with a short break in between. The conditions were fantastic and she took us down different pistes than we had been down yesterday.  The only downside was the amount of traffic on the mountain.

Posted by bigblue on 29/12/2004 at 06:17 PM
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Tuesday, 28 December 2004
Leysin - 17h00

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While we were skiing this afternoon on the mountain it snowed steadily. At first it was only snowing on top of the mountain, but by the time we made our last ascent at 3pm it had started snowing in the village.  This photo shows the same view as this morning, but reflects the different conditions at this time.

Posted by bigblue on 28/12/2004 at 06:10 PM
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Leysin - 08h00

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This is the view I woke up to this morning in Leysin. Visibility was not good as there was mist but this cleared in mid-morning.  After breakfast we made our way into the village and did a bit of shopping. Bluemeanie needed some snow-boots as she was slipping wildly in her flimsy shoes. Then we went to Jacky Sports to hire some skis, and then made our way to the Ski School to meet up with Keiko.  We had two lessons on the mountain with her, with an hour�s break in-between. (She had another lesson but this was convenient for us as we went to the restaurant on top of the mountain for an ovalmaltine/coffee break).

Posted by bigblue on 28/12/2004 at 06:01 PM
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Monday, 27 December 2004
House blinging

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This is just about the extent of the Christmas bling at chez Wolff: some low-key light arrangements twinkling in certain of the windows. 

However there are some internet sites looking at the over-the-top nature of certain Christmas decorations these days, for example:

(Links from the Guardian?s newsblog. The BBC also has an article on Bling Bling home deco).

At about noon we left Haguenau and headed across the Rhine into Germany, then down the fast autobahn to Basel in Switzerland (in just over one hour).  It started to snow soon after we crossed the border into Germany, and it continued until we were well South of Basel. The light sprinkling of snow on the mountains and trees in Switzerland was beautiful. 

After just over four hours of driving (excluding stops) we arrived in Leysin. It was just getting dark as we drove up the last stretch into Leysin, and after checking into our hotel we did a short tour of the town.  Our popular pizza restaurant has closed (for good) so we ended up eating supper in the hotel. 

I managed to phone our ski instructor (Keiko from Japan/New Zealand) and arrange a lesson for tomorrow afternoon. 

Posted by bigblue on 27/12/2004 at 11:09 PM
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Sunday, 26 December 2004
50"56.748N / 001"47.412E

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This morning Bluemeanie and I woke bright and early, packed up the car, and started on our 7-hour journey (6 hours of actual driving time) to Haguenau.

The drive was straight-forward, and we even saw some snow on the ground next to the road on the way.  The most eventful part of the journey was being stuck for about 20 minutes behind a broken down vehicle when disembarking from the Eurotunnel shuttle.  I took the above photo in the shuttle, without a flash (which is prohibited on the shuttle) and am quite chuffed because I customised the white balance manually.

It was good to be back in Haguenau this evening, and to chat with Mme Wolff.  I was last here at the end of October with Pinkie. Mme Wolff said she was pleased to see us as her house is empty, except for her (6 empty bedrooms) and she said she doesn’t enjoy sleeping in the house alone. So actually Bluemeanie, Mme Wolff and I each have a floor to ourself.. (I?m on the top floor).

Tonight they are forecasting a temperature of -1C rising to a maximum of about +1C tomorrow.  However tomorrow Bluemeanie and I head South for Switzerland, and the ski-slopes!

Posted by bigblue on 26/12/2004 at 09:51 PM
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