After many years of discussion and planning, my friend Richard and I finally got the chance to travel over seas together. What started out as small, quick family ski trip turned into the ultimate boys week away to the French Alps. We were fortunate enough to stay in a catered chalet in Meribel, situated in the heart of The Three Valleys, considered to be the prettiest of all the resorts.
Meribel is at the centre of one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, ideal for all abilities of skiers. While all the others on the trip were veteran skiers, this was my first attempt at trying anything like this. I’ve been to the Alps before, and love the snow, but being from South Africa I’ve never had the opportunity before, and to be honest I was petrified. Historically if something could go wrong, it went wrong with me. I was so worried that, before we left, I met with my lawyers to get my affairs in order just in case I fell off a cliff or hit a tree at a million kilometres an hour. Before you mock me for being melodramatic, we were at the same resort Michael Schumacher had his fatal accident, so I was not prepared to take any chances.
My first attempts at skiing did not go so well. As a big guy, with very large feet, I wear a size 12 or 13 shoe, so finding skiing boots that could fit was a bit of a nightmare. The biggest pair they had were so tight that I could not put any weight on them for more than 10 minutes before crying like a little girl. Nevertheless, being a man, I sucked up the pain and signed up for two private lessons. Because of my size and weight, coupled with the fact that my legs had become jelly, it was very difficult for me to stop and hitting a tree at a million kilometres an hour started to look almost certain, that’s if I didn’t accidentally kill a few bystanders in the process. About half way through the first lesson the instructor, a veteran with over 30 years experience, sat me down and said: “For the safety of both yourself and everyone on the mountain, I recommend that you abandon the sport entirely and take up something less dangerous, like knitting.”
After buying him a beer and looking at my options I realised not all was lost, and decided to trade in my ski boots & skis for hiking boots, spending the rest of the week hiking through the Alps, exploring all the little french towns hidden throughout the mountain, and making the most of beautiful surroundings. To be honest, I think I enjoyed walking through the Alps more than I ever would have enjoyed skiing, so much so that I would gladly do it again. Let’s not forget the amazing catered chalet we stayed in, where we were very well taken care of and stuffed with great food and lots of wine. I cannot wait for the next “ski” trip!