Thursday, 21 February 2013

Even more alpine adventures...

So after my incredibly prestigious and impressive encounter with François a few weeks ago ( yes, we're totally on first name terms at this point.. If only...) normal life seemed quite difficult to settle back into again. However, a weekend away with the Erasmus group IntEGre provided an excellent opportunity to dive right back into the Erasmus spirit of meeting people, doing new things and generally having fun.

My first experience of cross country skiing was followed by an amazing tobogganning session, which turned out to be quite experimental.. but luckily we all survived. After being shown our home for the night, much food and merriment ensued, before the fancy dress theme "rêves d'enfants" had all the lads form a mad pirate crew, complete with tattoos, eyepatches, scarily creepy facial hair, scurvy and a hook that I may or may not have destroyed a perfectly good hanger to obtain.
After a great soirée, we had a chilled out Sunday before returning home to Gcchuunooblhh after a fantastic weekend full of nouvelles expériences and connaissances.

The next week or two went relatively smoothly, despite some pesky exposés to do and general work which occupied my time, however once they were done, life returned to it's normal tranquil, spontaneous, easy going pace. I drastically improved in snowboarding actually, and my Tuesday sessions soon had me move up a group and try some blue slopes, which I can safely say I was comfortable with. I did fall off a slope and down a 15 foot cliff at one point, however I now have enough confidence in my ability to say that it was a mixture of fog and snow-filled goggles that was mostly at fault and not my extremely dire spatial awareness. But it still hurt. It would be fine if the accidents had stopped there, but alas, no... 

When a friend came to visit the following weekend, we decided to try skiing, a decision which was welcomed by sharp intakes of breath,  winces and long, sleepless nights by those familiar with my accident prone history. While managing well on the bunny slopes, we foolishly decided to advance to a more difficult level, where suddenly all competence I had acquired disappeared and I found myself unable to prevent myself from hurtling down the slope at ridiculous kilometres per hour. My first bad fall was quite spectacular. Having not quite come to terms with the fact that my feet were now a metre longer than usual, and having not been instructed in correct falling techniques, I subsequently had a quite bad but quite hilarious (for those watching) fall, where my right wrist came out as the weakest link. Having already been quite familiar with X-ray departments at home over the years, I feared the worst, but after nursing my wrist with some ice (not that hard to come by up there surprisingly), I was back on my metre long feet... Until the next difficult bit. My braking once again failed me and then as I fell, my reflexes, not quite remembering that my wrist already hurt, planted me straight down on the same wrist again, banishing all doubt that I needed a hospital visit, and fast. 

After a restful period at the bottom (yes, I managed to ski down), we went to the medical centre and despite not having time to get an Xray there due to bus departure times, the attending doctor seemed to think that the massive scary lump on my wrist corresponded to a breakage. With a heavy heart, and a scary looking arm, I got the bus back with the others, and went straightaway to the local hospital in Gcchuunooblhh. They however, after a thorough and very French medical exam, declared that in fact it was not broken, but just some bad ligament damage. Happy days. The following morning we managed to find a pharmacy that was open (difficult on a Sunday morning, cheers France) and I got a support cast thing which I now have to wear for the next few weeks. The Winter Olympics unfortunately may have to wait.

Despite my injury, Sunday was a very good day, as myself and my friend decided to go to the lovely mountainous village of Autrans. Having managed to get the bus there and look around this lovely place, we were desperate to get home in time for the Ireland V England rugby match, as the bus times had messed us around. We eventually asked this lovely young family if they were heading that direction, and they obliged by squeezing us into their car in between their children and ski equipment for the journey back to Gcchuunooblhh. After a quick lunch, we hit one of the Irish bars in town, however the result of the match was less than impressive. Despite the result, banter was still very much had, but too soon it was time to say goodbye to my friend as she embarked upon a 15 hour bus journey back to the Netherlands.

The next week was full of fun, some work and college related stuff too but mostly just fun. An enjoyable Valentine's day soirée in one of our favourite haunts was followed by Gcchhuunooblhh's very own Masquerade party, where we all wore Venice's finest Carnevale masks, (which we soon discovered were actually made in China. Gasp) imported by some travelling friends the weekend before. After another hitch-hiking experience, we got home in the early hours, before a very eventful Saturday.

The IntEGre group were holding a Photo treasure hunt type event, which required lots of trekking around Gcchhuunooblhh, embarrassing photos and some very strange but enjoyable shenanigans. 
I then went to the south-west of the city to the Stade Lesdiguières, where I met some friends to go watch a rugby match between Gcchhuunooblhh (who were surprisingly good I had discovered) and Agen (who were not). Some of my friends from non-rugby countries required lengthy explanations as to what exactly was going on and why these big men were grabbing each other and chasing after a weirdly shaped ball. The home team won by a considerable 27-13 which was great for the atmosphere and general good humour in the stadium, and we all got the chance to run onto the pitch at the end to meet the players, something I haven't been used to since inter-school GAA back in the day.

A lovely Italian dinner followed the match, and then an interesting soirée in the form of my very first Toga Party, taken quite seriously by a lot of those attending, which made for some very Roman banterful times. My toga was quite historically innacurate, the good old last minute bedsheet routine, not exactly my finest Roman tunic unfortunately. 
This last week has been interesting, with a night of Japanese and Korean food dominating my diet, as well as some general group social sessions that tend to make my evenings here great. 
I have also spontaneously taken a place on a trip to Prague with the University, which leaves tomorrow evening (last minute or what!) and I cannot wait . I've always wanted to go there ! So no doubt, there shall be some epic pictures etc, which you should all Czech out. I'm also trying to find a perfect opportunity to use the word Prague-matic, but no luck as of yet, I'll keep you posted.

à bientôt mes amis !

PS: Voilà more images from recent days and weeks.

Agen penalty. They did lose so the least I could do was show their best bits.

And again, the view from just outside the door. Unreal.

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