The blog is back.

Monday, September 29, 2008

So you might have noticed the blog was offline for a few days. My hosting company had a massive failure and left me, and my client's websites, up shit creek.

We've had to stay a couple more nights in Chamonix in order for me to fix it.

All going well we'll be leaving Chamonix tomorrow and heading south for a warmer climate. Its been frozen in the mornings here!

Check out the latest photos in the post below. If you want to know more about the photo, or which one of us took it, just click on the image in the slideshow and it will give you some more information. Also you can visit our Flickr Streams for bigger versions.

Simon on Flickr
Dani on Flickr

Photos from the French Alps

Heres a collection of the latest images from our adventures around Chamonix.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

We've had a great 9 nights here in the magnificent town of Chamonix. It's a crazy little resort, full of mountain-loving freaks, no town quite compares to it. In our campsite there's a big communal table where all the people staying cook, and hang around at night. Conversation with your average Joe climber will go something like this:

Dani - "So what'd you get up to today"
Joe - "Not much eh, just got up at 2am and climbed for 10 hours to the summit of Mt Blanc, then walked for 13 hours back down into Chamonix. You?"
Dani - "Oh,, I did a nice climb at the beginners crag."

Yes. Everyone here is MAD! It's nice to be around though. It encourages us to aspire to more adventurous things. We've managed to hike and/or climb every single day, bar one when the rain kept us down. On that day we drove to Switzerland, marvelled at the outrageous price of their chocolate and came back to France.

One of our best missions yet was a hike up to an area called 'Lac Cheryses'. It took us 3 hours and some rather sore bum muscles to cover the 1000m altitude gain, but the view was well worth it. Check out the video Simon put together at the end of this post.

Climbing wise... we've found a crag at a little village called Servoz that really appeals to our style of climbing. It's steep with big holds, and has a feeling of exposure at the top that makes the bowels wriggle in funny ways.

All in all, we love Chamonix. On Friday we're heading to Saint Foye to meet our prospective employers, so (fingers-crossed) we will have jobs next time we post a blog entry! Of course we'll have jobs, we're charming, who wouldn't want us...

We're still alive!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We're still alive after our 100m mission at Vallorcine. 5 pitches of entertaining granite found us at the top. We then had to negotiate at decent route which included chains running the width of the crag and multiple ladders in a steep gully. Here is a couple of pictures from the climb. Video coming soon.

Vallorcine, Chamonix

Dani climbing at Vallorcine

On the road.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Its been over a week since out last post! We didn't really have alot to report to be honest. We had a couple of depressing days in Lyon stressing about money, and then spending it. After 3 trips to 'Decathlon', 'Aux Vieux Camper', 'Carefourre', and 500 euro later, we acquired all our camping gear for the adventure ahead.

More importantly, yesterday we finally collected our car from Lyon Airport (an adventure in itself). We're now proud lease-ees of a rather stylish Renault Clio Estate III.

Having never driven a left hand drive, and particularly not in France, getting back to the hotel from the airport was quite entertaining. Dani was on curb patrol - politely reminding me when I was approaching our imminent death - while I was concentrating on avoiding an insurance claim. Interestingly, we both felt far safer on the motor ways at 130 km/h than we did in the city. French streets are narrow, and french drivers are unforgiving. I had one epic failure when my brain failed to indicate and change gears simultaneously with opposite hands.

Getting loaded up and on the road was such a huge relief and excitement, and it was an interesting drive from Lyon to Chamonix.

After setting up camp, Dani went for a run, and I went to the village to get a guide book for local rock-climbing. That evening we popped down to the closest crag to do a couple of routes.

Here, a small crag is 60 metres. A large one is 500m. Our first route was a single pitch of 30 metres, and I ran out of quick draws. The French seem to bolt every metre of so without fail, which is great. There are multipitch routes everywhere.

Yesterday we went back to the same crag and did a three pitch 4c, which the guide book called 80 metres. Around the corner, we did some interesting 4c's, a 5a and finally a 6a.

Up and down the valley, the rock varies between Gneiss, Limestone and Granite. Tomorrow we're hoping to climb a 5 pitch Granite route up the valley, near the Swiss border, topping out at 100 metres - 1400 metres above sea level.

No photos as yet, but the views are fantastic. Mt Blanc (4800metres) and the Aguille du Midi are right above us. I assure you there will be some photos and video soon!

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Video - Paris by night

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We're in a video editing frenzy. Check out these three from recent adventures.

Video - Amsterdam

Video - Fontainebleau

Here is that video from Fontainebleau! Enjoy.

Parlez-vous Anglais? Non.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Thursday we opted to dismiss city life, and head for the country. We arranged to travel on a regional train line to Fontainebleau, one of the best locations in the world for the sport of Bouldering.

We'd been told that once out of the city, not many people speak English. What we didn't realise is, you don't have to go very far at all. Fontainebleau is only 60km from Paris, and it took us 2 hours to find someone that could talk to us! (We forgot our phrasebook) Eventually we acquired the maps we needed, and walked into the forest just to the north of the township.

Hidden in the trees are deposits of sandstone boulders, not that different from Castle Hill's limestone. The setting is quite magic - we had the forest to ourselves, and a gorgeous warm day. The rock is well featured, and the majority of problems were easy, with obvious test-pieces. We couldn't push too hard, as we were without a crash pad, but we found some great V2's. We did around 20 problems in a very small area called Mont Ussy - part of a very large area of bouldering around Fontainebleau. You could spend weeks here and never do the same problem twice.

As beautiful as Paris is, we really enjoyed our reprieve from the hustle and bustle.

Yesterday we totally avoided the Pope on his visit to Paris. Instead of queuing with the masses (no pun intended), we visited Jardin du Luxembourg, a large park in the Latin Quarter, had lunch and attempted to shop for shoes. Last night we went night shooting at the Tour Eiffel, Arc du Triomphe and Le Louvre.

We've got a couple of clips from Fontainebleau and Amsterdam ready to upload, unfortunatly the internet at this hostel is too slow to upload. We should have them online tonight or tomorrow, so check back soon.

Var zin min Klumpen? (Where are my Clogs?)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Its official; Dutch is a hideous language. But Amsterdam is wonderful.

Again, ill-prepared and uneducated, we didn't really know what to expect. We were greeted by a beautiful city, which is vibrant and very interesting. You can get lost for hours just wandering the streets - Believe me, we did, four times! Never have I been so disoriented in my life.

And no, we weren't stoned.

Its very obvious that Weed is a big part of the city culture in Amsterdam. You can smell it most places, and large parts of the Centraal are door to door with "coffeeshops". The parks are filled with people laughing at the trees, riding bikes and all in all, generally being quite high.

Today we hired a tandem bike for 3 hours and rode until we got lost, and rode some more till we were even more lost. After getting used to the bike and the traffic, we ventured into the center and discovered some gorgeous roads less seen by tourists, which skirt the canals.

Tonight we hope to head in again with the cameras and tripod and do some night photography. Tomorrow, its back to Paris for three days. Then down to Lyon for four and we finally collect the car and head for the mountains!

Antwerp - Antwerpen - Anvers

Monday, September 8, 2008

After three nights in Paris, we headed to Belgium to catch up with a friend of mine, Eric, in Antwerp. (Antwerp in English, Antwerpen in Flemmish, Anvers in French)

The culture of Antwerp is great...public squares surrounded by laid-back bars, cobbled streets, beautiful historical homes, and the most incredible selection of beer you could ever wish for.

When we arrived yesterday Eric showed us around town, and we went out to a local bar on Saturday night with Eric, Steven, Glenn, Matthias, Laetitia and Sarah. While they filled Simon with beer, we learned a few quintessential Belgian phrases, including: "a package from my heart" meaning "that's a relief"; and "going off like a watering can" meaning "that's a terrible performance". Everyone here seems to speak at least three languages, so we've been able to communicate more easily than in France. Reading things is another story though, everything is written in Flemish!

Today we visited the Photography Museum, and then went back into town to take some photos of our own.

We'll put some photos from Antwerp up soon, in the meantime here's a video of the Catacombs in Paris. The Catacombs are full of the bones of millions of Parisians whose graves were exhumed due to spread of disease. A rather eerie experience...

A short video from Seoul

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Here is a short clip from our night in Seoul.

Pourquoi riez-vous? (Why are you laughing?)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yes, we've arrived. Finally. Three days of Korean food was getting the better of us. We've already gorged ourselves on the Parisian pastries. We deciphered the train system and made it to our hostel, only to discover that we'd mis-booked, been charged for it, and had nowhere to sleep. (at 10pm, exhausted, and the Metro closing in 2 hours!)

Unfortunately the only option we had to was to accept a 95 euro room at a hotel down the street. Today we've found a cheaper 2 star hotel in the same area and are booked in for tonight and tomorrow.

After all the drama we had a good day roaming the streets of Paris, including such attractions as Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Champs de Elysee, Hotel L'Invalides and finally tonight, the Eifell Tower.

We also went to Gard du Nord to book some tickets to Belgium for this week, we're heading up to see Eric, a friend of Dani's who she met last year in Crete. In the station, there are soldiers with large automatic weapons strolling around. They don't smile back.

Today at Hotel L'Invalides a guard with a firearm politely told me I couldn't use my tripod (but I was allowed to carry it), in French - atleast I think thats what he said.

We've put a few photos on Flickr, click on the links in the sidebar, or any of the photos in this post to take you there. Don't hesitate to leave us a comment, it gives us the warm fuzzys.

Seoul - Massive

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stage two of three days transit has seen us arrive in Korea. Part of the ticket included an overnight stay in downtown Seoul. We were stoked to find the hotel was in fact rather plush, included dinner and breakfast, and was right in the heart of the city's night-markets.

I had no idea, but Seoul is massive. At over 10 million people its one of the largest cities on earth. It took just over an hour to drive from Incheon Airport into Seoul, driving through vast expanses of high-density housing.

The markets were entertaining, but we definitely felt like foreigners! Western tourists must be fairly rare as we attracted quite a few looks. The stalls varied from hi-quality footwear to deep-fried tentacles. One stall appeared to have deep-fried erogenous zones from most of the species in the Eastern Seas.

We're back in Incheon International airport - a massive creation that resembles a space ship. Next post shall be coming from France, hopefully with some video and photos too.