Last Saturday we finally set off on our first family ski holiday. Livigno, Italy….here we come. Rising with the Dubai peacocks we set off on the 6.5 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Milan. Once there, only another 4 hour car journey to get us to the mountains. Flying 6.5 hours on a comfy plane with access to TV, movies, video games and fizzy drinks on tap makes for a great start to the hols as well as an easy travelling experience for Mummy and Daddy.
Completing our journey in an entertainment/fizzy drinks free car, DH and I took bets on how long it would be before we heard the words every parent loves to hear – ‘are we nearly there yet?’! We obviously underestimated our offsprings’ impatience…..we had not even made it out of the airport grounds before we heard it’s sister sentence ‘how much longer until we are at the hotel?’…A no nonsense glare in DS2’s direction said that was the first last time we wanted to hear that statement!
Not much looking forward to the car trip myself, the stunning scenery we witnessed on the way to our destination, Livigno, definitely helped take my mind off the tedium of motorway driving. Hugging the banks of the spectacular Lake Como, part of me wished we were holidaying there for a few days (and not just in the hope we, I mean I, might catch a glimpse of George sans Amal!). The serene beauty was lost on the kids who continued to entertain themselves with games such as ‘dead arm’, ‘Chinese burn’ and ‘who can be the most annoying sibling’.
As the incline of our route to the mountains increased the snow capped mountains came into view. Excitement grew. The kids’ eyes searched for the answer to the forbidden question. I explained that just because we were practically surrounded by mountains did not mean we were close. Indeed we were not quite 2 hours into the journey and still had some way to go. I appreciated their frustration and empathized with their impatience. As the car climbed higher, the route took in more and more man made passes which were carved into mountainsides to facilitate access to the higher plains. Being a nervous flyer, I thought my hours of praying for a safe arrival were over when we landed in Milan. Not so. It seems that pulsing through the veins of every driver on Italian roads is a wannabe Formula 1 race car driver! One would have thought that the daily craziness on Dubai’s roads would have more than prepared me for the racing track that is northern Italy’s roads…..alas….no!
White knuckled, hair raised, one eye open and praying to the man above was how I entered every mountain pass. A single meandering lane in either direction in an enclosed tunnel signaled some sort of time trial and what felt like a ‘near miss’ at every turn. Perhaps there are no speed cameras in the tunnels and drivers feel ‘safe’ from the law. Perhaps there is a thrill in driving on what follows the format of a racing track. I don’t know, but I think even non believing DH offered up a prayer or two!
Once we reached the roads skirting the mountain’s edge, I realized the tunnel races were for amateurs. High up on the narrow, icy, precipitous tracks, where the only view is downwards into what can only be described as a ‘valley of death’ is apparently where the ‘real’ fun begins. Missing each other by millimeters, cars whizz along without a care in the world. I am sure rally car race drivers take more care and pay more attention on less treacherous tracks. Trying not to infect my babies with my severe anxiety I tried my best to chat and joke with them.
Never could a conversation have ripped me from my fear induced state as the one started by DS1 3 1/2 hours into the journey:
DS1 (excitedly): ‘Mummy, can we order room service when we get to the hotel?’
Mummy (not thinking ahead): Honey, we are staying in a guest house and there is no room service. We will go out for dinner.’
DS1 (no longer excited and rather confused): ‘Whhhaaattttt? Awwwwwaaahhhhhh. I don’t want to go now. I want to go home if there is no room service!!!!!!!!!’
Expat brat alert!!!!!