We met up with everybody, being Karyn and Brian, Maree and Scot, and Bernie, at Victoria Station in the morning and caught the Gatwick Express to the airport. The Airport was really busy – everyone seemed to be going away for Christmas. While waiting in a queue to start the sorting process we stumbled into Zane and a friend on their way to Amsterdam, so we caught up some while slowly shuffling along. Eventually, after our documents were examined and some wandering around had taken place we were all on a plane, destination Toulouse airport, France. The flight was uneventful, if a little cramped. Upon landing we did the customs thing and were then met by the reps, who sorted us all and told us where to find our coach. After a tour of the car park we eventually found the coach and it was the start of the next step, a coach journey through France and onward to Andorra.
We saw some of southern France while on the bus, until we reached the mountains – then all we could see was rock and snow. We stopped in a small township on the way up. Our rep was trying to sell us ski passes and gear for the week but we didn’t like the given options so we sorted out with the rep that we didn’t have to do things their (Neilson’s) way, and he could sort something out for us. Here was our first taste of snow, we discovered to our delight that snowflakes are actually shaped like snow flakes (opposed to lumps of white stuff). Fresh snow is really cool; the world seems like a different place.
Back on the road, the snow started getting heavier, the light was fading fast and cars were pulling over to put their chains on. Our bus just carefully made it’s way up the mountain. By the time we arrived in Pas de la Casa it was dark and the snow was falling quite steadily. We all piled out and rather than wait for transport decided to walk up to our apartment, which was about 5 minutes up the hill. Our first impression of Pas de la Casa is that it was steep, and it had more shops than we were expecting too.
We unloaded our stuff, checked out our apartment then went to find some food, and meet up with the reps. Wandering around the town we found a really nice Pizzeria for dinner, where we were all amazed at how cheap everything was (even though we’d been told), and at how nice the food was too. We found out that after each meal, complimentary apple schnapps is bought to the table – the schnapps was served from a mini barrel at the Pizzeria. After dinner we went on to the Neilson pub and listened while the reps outlined some of the week’s events. After this we talked to our rep and figured out how to organise the rest of our holiday – we found out we could get shorter term lift passes and equipment hire the next day.
Our apartment: it had two bedrooms, one with a double bed (Karyn and Brian), the other was a tiny room with a bunk bed (Maree and Scott), Brendon and I got the couch that transformed into two beds, while Bernie got the other couch/bed. The apartment was all woodwork, with a dining table and kitchen in the lounge, all in all tidy and comfortable. We discovered that night that the heating wasn’t up to scratch, there weren’t enough blankets for seven people for a cold night, and the heaters were next to useless (you blew a circuit breaker with the heaters and stove on). The following morning we discovered that there was only enough hot water for 2 showers, so we learnt to stagger showers throughout the day so every one had hot water (unlike poor Maree having two aborted attempts at a shower on that first morning).