Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Greetings from Grenoble

So, it's 8:18 on Wednesday morning. We are in Grenoble. Here's a photo Di just took that might deter you from visiting this blog ever again:

Trying to figure out the layout for the new blog
It's currently raining outside. We're just hanging out in our hotel room before catching the bus to Bourg d'Oisans to spend the night before we set off hiking for 11 days, so I thought I'd start putting a new blog together.

We arrived at our hotel at 6:00 p.m. yesterday, after about 36 hours of travel time from our front door. That breaks down to about a quarter of an hour getting to the airport in Hobart; 21 hours flying time between Hobart and Geneva; 2 hours on a bus from Geneva to Grenoble, a lot of hanging around in airports and about 5 minutes from the bus station in Grenoble to our hotel.

The downside of travelling a long way by airplane is definitely ... well, travelling by airplane, actually. It got me thinking about how great if telekinesis were a reality. Dianne and I could have just thought ourselves in Grenoble and then we'd have been there. It would certainly take away a lot of tedium and discomfort. Just imagine! For starters, no queuing to get through security, no discomfort of endless and no sleepless hours in baby capsule sized airline seats. One could just think oneself in Grenoble and hey, presto: you're there! Actually, thinking about it, we would have even needed to bother stopping here in Grenoble: we could have taken ourselves straight to the start of the long hike we're come to do and set off.

The possibilities are endless: one moment in the lounge room at home; the next doing a beautiful multi-pitch climb at Ailefroide. And if the weather is bad when you arrive, well, you just go someplace else! Of course there could be a downside or two. Imagine again: in a fit of rage during an argument with your spouse, you teleport yourself somewhere far, far away then return after you've cooled down only to discover she's disappeared somewhere herself - and not left a note!

Anyway, although the weather hasn't been brilliant in the Alps this year, the forecast for tomorrow looks pretty good, so we should at least have a pleasant start to our circuit of the Ecrins Massif.

Update from le Bourg d'Oisans

A quick little bus trip from Grenoble to le Bourg d'Oisans - the charming little town you leave behind before crossing the Romanche River to start the climb up towards Alpe d'Huez - brought the sun out and a smile to our faces. To add to our pleasure, we discovered our - also charming and, also little - hotel was right across the road from the bus station. Here's a photo of it with our room, called "Narcisse", shown with a red oval:

It's a steep climb up to our room on the second floor!
If you look closely at the entrance, you will notice the figures two cyclists: one representing the yellow jersey to signify the leader of the Tour de France; the other representing the polka dot jersey, signifying the leader of the climber's competition. This place is cycling central, filled with bike shops. At one of the shops, each and every one of the their rental bikes was built out of carbon fibre! (I was curious to know what a rental would cost but decided to leave that for another day.) 

Although we'd arrived quite early, the proprietor of our hotel was kind enough to let us access our room so we could drop off our bags. We were quite keen to scout out the start of our route for tomorrow, as the guidebook says, "surprisingly, there is no sign to indicate the start" of this significant Grande RandonnĂ©e

Here's the route we walked this afternoon from our hotel to the start of the track:

Finding our way to the start of the GR 54
Just before crossing the river we came to this signpost, with a GR marker showed us we were headed in the right direction:

It looks like we head towards Maronne but Di thinks that's actually a different GR!

Although there were lots of warning signs at the start of the route, there was nothing to indicate that this was in fact where the GR54 starts:

Can this really be the start?
 We wandered along the track, which led towards the Sarenne Gorge and past a magnificent cataract. Happily, when that wide track stopped a much smaller track bearing one of the red and white GR markers led steeply up the hillside.  This had to be it!

Pleased that we knew where to go tomorrow we headed back toward town to find some lunch and check out the village. Di spotted this view, a real picture postcard scene:

le Bourg d'Oisans at the base of the climb to Alpe d'Huez
It's off up the hill tomorrow, and the start of eleven days of hiking. I'm not sure when we will next have WiFi access, so it may be a while before the next blog post. Wish us luck!