I have no further updates on the chalet hunt. We are still researching exactly which little village we want to land in and so have not looked at any other specific houses. I am determined to at least lay eyeballs on each and every ski village in the French-speaking part of Switzerland as well as right over the border in France. I’ve been scoring each village on a scale of 1 to 10 for access to the slopes, price of housing, how many famous people live there, etc. So far, Gstaad wins in the famous residents category but do we really want to live near Roman Polanski? No, we do not. Grand One is nine and she will soon be right in Roman’s wheelhouse. No need to go inviting trouble, I say.
By the way, Avoriaz in France is the most horrible place I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those “site-built” ski resorts with no actual town. Just high rise after high rise after high rise, with ski rental shops and pizza joints on the street level. Oh, it was so bad, Mr. Big and I were in shock. We thought that that level of tackiness was confined only to the US. No, someone allowed it to sneak across the Atlantic and climb up an Alp. Don’t go there unless you are a twenty-something hard core snowboarder who is not in the least bit interested in ambience and only care what time the bars close. Hmmmm. Small Son would probably love it.
Consequently, because the area is so large, you find yourself driving miles and miles and miles between the villages and the sights you want to see. It’s a lot of driving, I’m just warning you. I am going to begin by talking about things in Tuscany that you probably didn’t even know were in Tuscany.
3. The city of Florence. We did not go there because we have friends coming to visit next summer and this city is on their itinerary so we didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I understand it is lovely and I am excited to visit.
OK. So, here I am in the Hotel Des Amis , which looks promising from the outside. Mr. Big is out in the car “saving” the primo-bitchin’ parking space that he has acquired. Once I stepped inside the foyer, I knew there may be some issues regarding this hotel. First, there was no one at the front desk, but that was not too weird, so I go searching for the desk clerk, or whomever. I haven’t even made into the room beyond the reception area when I am practically overrun by a dozen rugrats who are all about 7 years old. Well. This is unnerving because I am used to Swiss children who don’t make a peep, ever, even if being set on fire, and here were a dozen yelling, running, screaming Italian bambinis climbing in, on and over the reception desk, hanging from the draperies, you name it and they were attempting to scale it.
Apparently, the Hotel Des Amis was a family-run hotel and there was a birthday party of one of the children going on. Since the Mom and Dad of the Birthday Kid were busy corralling the ferrets, er, children, it was left to the Grandma and Grandpa to check us in, a service which they had not performed since the Second World War. BTW, if you are trying to Google this hotel, you will not find it on the internet. It does not exist in cyberspace. But, trust me, it is there. Anyway, via sign language and a little bit of Spanish (which is very close to Italian, thank God!), I tell Grandma that we need a room for one night. I point out to Grandpa Mr. Big’s strategic location across the plaza. Gramps insists on doddering out across the plaza to help Mr. Big with the luggage.
Grandma pulls me aside, now that we are all one big happy family inside this bedroom!, into the bathroom. She tries to communicate to me in our Spanglish-Sign Language, that the plumbing is not so good. Don’t put anything in the toilet except those things which should normally go in a toilet. Got it, Granny. I will not try to flush Mr. Big’s head down there at any time during the ensuing evening. Finally, after Granny and Gramps depart, we, of course, crack up and fall back upon the bed in relief.
Ouch! Big mistake! The mattress, it would appear, had also not been replaced since 1946. It was so hard that we were getting bruised just laying on it. It was like reclining on a slab of concrete, except the concrete would have been just a hair more comfortable.
Next time I will tell you about our favorite village in Tuscany, Greve in Chianti. We did not stay there, either, but that is a story for another day.