Monday, November 24, 2008

Italia: A Sort of Homecoming

Well, we are finally back in Italy albeit it not without incident. As you all know, our usual routine when coming to Italy is to leave on Saturday, stay overnight at a small town in the Austrian Alps called Heiterwang, then conclude the journey the next morning, traveling through the Fern Pass en route to the Brenner Pass It splits up the driving for the kids, as making the drive all in one day would be too much for them.

So, we left Saturday right at noon and headed south. As we got further south on autobahn 7 towards the Alps, it started snowing harder and harder. By the time we hit Fussen, right on the border, it was reaching blizzard proportions. The Fernpass can be treacherous even in decent weather so there was no way I would even attempt it in a blizzard, especially with a baby in the car. I was starting to think that I should have opted for the Munich route; it takes longer but it's autobahn the whole way. To my chagrin, the normal road between Fussen and Heiterwang was closed so we had to take a detour. Not a problem normally but a huge problem in a blizzard because the detour was on a smaller road. We finally reached Heiterwang and I started to breathe easy as we could now check into our hotel and relax...but it was not to be. The Heiterwang Hof was inexplicably closed, as was our fallback, the Forellen Hof. I was right on the edge of the Fern Pass and suddenly feeling very nervous. Just then, as if on cue, Luca started crying. I drove on, planning on checking into the first hotel we came to but there were none. Panic was starting to set in - it was dark now, the roads were practically undriveable, there was no hotel in sight and I had a 5 year old, a crying 6 month old and my prized wine collection in the car. One little slip and I might lose everything. The choice was clear; there was no way I was going to make it any further so I did a nerve-racking three point turn in the mountain road and headed back. We drove all the way back into Germany and searched several little towns for a hotel but everything was either closed or had no room. We finally did find a hotel about an hour north of the Fern Pass with room and checked in, my nerves still shaking from our near disaster.

I was now faced with the daunting prospect of having to backtrack all the way to autobahn 8 and take the Munich route the next day, which would take about an extra 3 hours. I woke early in the morning and went out to clean the snow off the car. This simple task took about 30 minutes and was made more difficult by the fact that I had no snow brush or ice scraper, no gloves, and nothing but a pair of dress shoes. If I ever hated the cold and snow - and I always have, with a passion - then I really was not liking it now. I asked the guy at the desk if there was any chance that the Fern Pass would be passable that morning, he checked on it and said it should be but that we should have breakfast first, relax, and give them time to clear the roads. I did NOT want to do the Munich thing so I did as he suggested. And sure enough, the Austrians had the road through the Fern Pass cleared and passable. When I reached the point at which I finally turned around the night before, I got a slight chill - there was no guard rail and the drop was at least a couple hundred feet. Thank the Lord Jesus that I turned around when I did as who knows what might have happened.

We arrived in Vicenza somewhere around 2 in the afternoon and as we did so I looked the temperature gauge in the car; 50 degrees F. I told the wife "Thank God we're in Italy and I won't have to deal with the damned snow anymore". We checked into the hotel and had one of the very best (and cheapest) seafood dinners I have enjoyed in quite some time. Then the X Man and I went to the hotel bar to watch the Milan match. Things were finally as they should be. I honestly could not remember the last time I had felt so content and I made mention of this fact several times during the course of the evening. Finally I went to bed, ready to wake the next day and start in-processing.

I awoke this morning, took a shower, got dressed, looked outside the window and was greeted by...wait for it...a blizzard.

That's right - a freaking blizzard, reminiscent of the one we had survived in the Alps. I weaved my way onto to post only to find that they had closed it due to the weather so I got a couple DVDs and am now holed up in our hotel room for the day, held hostage once again by the snow.

I wonder if there are any job openings in Hawaii?


Anonymous said...

Rik. Welcome home brother. Hey, how did you get to Italy with no drivers license?

Rik said...

As luck would have it, my license arrived in the mail on Friday (postage due of course). Technically I wasn't allowed to drive until midnight on Saturday but, you know, screw the Germans and their damned Draconian laws. Jerks. BTW, when I rode the train to and from work the past 2 months, I only bought a ticket twice. Sort of my way of getting back at them for being such heartless pricks.

Anonymous said...