'Hostel' Walk

'Hostel' Walk

From: Jonathan Turton
To: "'strange@cyber-adv.com'"
Subject: The Walk to Annecy YH
Date sent: Sun, 8 Mar 1998

Not as awful a tale as some - but I felt it worthy of mention.

I was doing the obligatory Inter-Rail a few years back and generally having a great time, until I went to Annecy in the Haute Savoie. I had been to this extremely attractive town before and felt it merited a return visit. It's quite a touristy place and this is reflected in the accommodation prices, but it also has a Youth Hostel which seemed fine. It was a little outside the town, about 2 kilometres according to my book. I had directions to a bus stop which would whisk me up, out of the town, and towards the top of a wooded hill. The weather, I should point out, was unseasonably warm - i.e. it was hot.

I got to the bus stop and read the little notice with a dawning sense of dread as I realised that the bus ran in the summer only and had stopped operating about 3 days before. Hmmm. A long walk beckoned but, being the fit young chap I was, I tightened the straps on my rucksack, downed a litre and a half of water and set off.

The hill was quite steep and zig-zagged it way ever upwards. It seemed a really long climb and I was getting hotter and more tired with every bend I turned. As I trudged on I thought that as a reward to myself for saving money by staying in a youth hostel I would eat out somewhere nice - there were plenty of signs to places off this road and the hostel was supposed to be not too far to some sort of activity sports complex.

Indeed, round one bend here was a hotel with Vue Panoramique - I pootled over to look at the menu and quickly pootled back again as I realized that my wallet had certain limitations. Unlimited credit being one of them.

A few bends and several litres of sweat later there was a sign off to another place - it looked nice, less formal than the previous place - this could be my dinner I thought. Closed Mondays and what day was it today? Need you ask?

So, on I went, higher and higher, with the promise of at least a nice bed and a shower that night. Well over 2 km later and a couple more closed or overpriced eateries later I was resigning myself to the idea of dinner at the Youth Hostel or a further walk along to this sports place.

Head down and mumbling to myself I turned a corner and saw an interestingly parked car on the inside of the road. Funny place to park, I though to myself as the couple inside it waved over to me. Ahhhh - now I could see. It wasn't parked - it was stuck. Would I help them push their car out of this seemingly implausible position? Of course. I even managed some sort of Gallic shrug and resigned myself to the exertion of more energy. I think they were a little surprised at my reaction which seemed to imply that I spent all my days slogging up big hills wearing a large, heavy rucksack and then momentarily stopping to push cars out of ditches. We succeeded and then generously, they didn't offer me a lift anywhere. They went down the hill and I carried on up.

I reached the end. The Youth Hostel was now in sight - it looked perfectly acceptable. I wandered in and we went through the normal rigmarole - did they have a bed? Yes. Did I need a sleeping bag? Yes. What time was dinner? Oh, we don't do dinner here. After stopping to pick my shattered body up of the floor I looked, in hindsight probably quite rudely, at the bloke and uttered an incredulous "What, no dinner" (in French, of course). Non. How far was this sports complex? 4km. Too far for me in this state.

Weak and dispirited I found my dormitory. I took off my jacket which was soaking wet and went in search of the showers. I found the showers and then went back in search of my dormitory. If there was one thing that I needed more than a shower, it was the avoidance of contracting some sort of infectious disease - and, that being the case, the shower block was best avoided.

I lay down on my bed, the sun was beginning to set, and I considered my options. I had none. I was a broken man. As I drifted into a semi-conscious state, a German (who'd arrived in his sports car) entered the room , turned all the lights on and opened the windows, thereby as good as hanging a large sign outside saying "Mosquitoes - Dinner Can Be Found Here". I woke up the next morning to find that while I may not have feasted well - at least some of God's creatures had not gone hungry that night. Strangely I decided to change my original plan and not stay there two nights.

Jonathan Turton

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