TMB – Day 0: Ostrava – Champex
Super excited for our attempt to knock the top item off my bucket list, I got up well before the alarm rang. I even got up before my parent’s chihuahua made his morning visit. It’s a habit of his to jump on the retractable sofa we sleep on while visiting every morning around six o’clock and lick my face until I wake up. He then demands access under my cover where he curls against my tummy and we both get thirty minutes or so of additional sleep before he gets bored, crawls out and wants me to pet him.
My dad dropped us off at our local train station and three and half hours later we arrived at Prague from where we caught FlixBus to Geneva. FlixBus is our new discovery. The company has been established in 2013 and since then became Europe’s largest intercity bus network. Our first experience with their bright green buses was in early July when we searched for transportation to my parents place after we had finished our GR20 trek. The experience was positive – the bus was comfortable, offered wi-fi, and it was half the price of a train. Same applied when we searched for the most convenient way to our TMB starting point in Champex.
Champex is not as commonly used to start the TMB as Chamonix is. We wanted to start at Chamonix as most people do but somewhere along the planning process we realized that if everything goes well we might be able to hop on neighboring Haute Route after the TMB and for that reason Champex became much better starting location for our adventure.
Champex is a village located in French-speaking canton of Valais on the shore of Lac de Champex. It’s touristy. Little bit of a tourist trap really with expensive hotels and restaurants that will leave a hole in your wallet, but with tall rugged mountains towering above the village it quickly can find a way into one’s heart.
We found a hotel, checked in, and spend early afternoon out and about supplying for the first couple days of our journey and taking a pleasant stroll around the lake. The one thing about hiking counter clockwise from Champex means that the hardest climb of the entire trek awaits us first thing tomorrow morning. I see it as a good thing, to get it out of the way. But still I’m not taking any chances. I have a small glass of red wine to celebrate the first day of our TMB adventure and with the first star on the sky, I’m promptly going to bed.
NOTES: (August 3rd – August 4th, 2019)
Transportation logistics from Ostrava – Champex
Train: Ostrava – Prague
$15.00 per person
FlixBus: Prague – Geneva
$60.05 per person
Train: Geneva – Martigny
Train: Martigny- Sembrancher
Train: Sembrancher – Orsières
Bus: Orsières – Champex
$63.00 per person
We tried to get our ticket from a ticket machine but found it very confusing. We had to wait for the ticket office to open (7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning) where they were super helpful, even printed itinerary for us with all the connections. This ticket included the entire route from Geneva to Champex, both train and the final bus.
Accommodation in Champex is expensive. We had no luck finding anything below $250 on apps like Expedia or Booking.com so we asked at local information center where we received list of local hotels, bed and breakfast, and camps, many of which were not listed on the apps. We secured a room at Boulangerie Gentiana which I highly recommend. The room itself is on a smaller side but very nice and there is large shared bathroom with bathtub and super hot water, free laundry machine, and a very nice common area including refrigerator, microwave, kettle and basic dishes.
Single occupancy costs 65 francs plus 2 francs tax
Double room is 120 francs plus 4 francs tax. This includes breakfast. Hint: Room #3 has a Mountain View. Rooms 1, 2, and 4 overlook the main street which can be busy with car traffic.
There is a grocery store in the village, large enough to offer good resupply options – ramens, tortillas, sausages, cheese, canned goods, beer and wine, and of course great variety of treats. You can pay cash or use card.
Sport store carries variety of goods from headbands and buffs to boots, backpacks, and clothing, both summer and warmer garments were on shelves, also some rain gear. You would be able to easily replace any piece of gear here. Prices seemed reasonable considering the brands they carry, Mammut, Millet, etc.
There is ATM available in the village if you need to get cash.