Arrivederci Arabba!

Final farewells this morning.

Gabi, we think,…was most impressed with our cleaning efforts.  Her sentences contained lots of “Bravo’s!” as we had a farewell hug.  Hopefully, we’ve made her job a little easier today.   She was also excited to see the new wine glasses, steamer (sorry Georgie), jug, toaster and sundry other bits and pieces we’ve left behind.  Mind you …we wish her luck with the #!*%#!! useless toaster.  Maybe the sparks that spring freely from it will give her a hint that it should be headed for the bin.  It certainly doesn’t cook toast!!

And so begins the long journey home.  We’ve given ourselves a bit of extra time and have booked into a Milan airport hotel tonight to ensure we make our midday flight tomorrow to Singapore.   It’s just over a 5 hour drive from Arabba to Milan Malpensa airport and Sunday is a much better day to make the drive than a Monday morning. No trucks and few cars on the road, particularly over mid-morning/lunch period which is when we are travelling.   If we didn’t leave today, “Murphy’s Law” will tell you that the first time we have car trouble or get stuck in a monster traffic jam will be the morning we are rushing to make a flight.   We’re pretty sure we couldn’t cope with that sort of stress in our lives after our recent carefree Dolomiti existence.

We also had to say a final goodbye to our trusty companion – ” Gino the Grip” Peugot.  Gra was most impressed with this little car and it really has done us proud. Apart from a few little design quirks, it was sure-footed, agile and speedy.  Everything you’d wish for in car for mountain driving.  “But no, Graeme!  We can’t buy one when we get back to Wanaka!”   “Mutter, mutter, Piaggio…mutter” says G.

The airport hotel was not too much of a hardship. We spent the afternoon floating around in their nice warm pool which we thought was a good way to acclimatise to the next few days in Singapore.

Carnival in Arabba & feeling the love.

It’s officially hot today in Arabba.   We sat in T-shirts out on our back deck at lunch today. Official temperature says 7°C but in the sun it’s a lot warmer.  The snow has all melted away on the sunny faces and we are back to white strips on brown ground.  A bit depressing if it wasn’t so nice sitting in the sun.

It’s Carnivale celebrations today in the town.  Carnivale can be celebrated at any time before the start of Lent so obviously this is the day or week that Arabba has chosen.  As we wandered through town doing the last of our food shopping we came upon the children from the village kindergarten who were “trick or treating” around town.  So sweet.  They were all dressed in cute little costumes and they chose to sing a number of songs along the way.  We encountered them outside the green grocer and again while we were having our morning coffee in the sunshine.

Kids in costume for Carnivale
Kids in costume for Carnivale

We took a day off today and did the last of the food shopping to get us through until Sunday morning when we depart for Milan.  We also went to the post office to frighten ourselves about the potential cost of posting a couple of boxes of stuff back to NZ.    While shopping at our green grocer – Rinaldo – I mentioned “Questa è l’ultima volta che facciamo la spesa qui” – that is this was the last time we would be here to get our vegies.   He can’t speak a word of English, but he seemed sad to see us go.  It was a fairly lengthy farewell speech and I think he was suggesting that we come back in summer.  I’m not sure he realises it’s a 27 hour flight?   But Rinaldo shook our hands solemnly saying “arrivederci” and gave us a lovely box of strawberries for our dinner.

And then when we returned to our apartment, Gabi had a plate of lovely home-made biscotti waiting for us.   “È per Carnivale”.   How lovely.  I gave my landlady a hug and many “Gracie mille!”.

Carnivale treats from Landlady Gabi
Carnivale treats from Landlady Gabi

Feeling pretty loved we whiled away the rest of the day getting sorted for our departure.  But the weather is changing.  Our sunshine is gone this afternoon and they are predicting snow tomorrow.   Typical.

And then late afternoon, Graeme decided that he wished to torture me with a bit of ice-skating.  Now to be fair, I’ve always loved ice-skating and traditionally we go every June to the skating rink in Queenstown for a whip around the ice.  But two years ago, I fell over for the first time since…I don’t know….when I was ten?   It really really hurt and I had a couple of huge purple bruises for weeks afterward.  It gave me a bit of a shock and I’ve been a bit gun-shy since.  I escaped ice-skating last year, but Gra has been pestering me for the last 3 months to go to the outdoor rink that we can see from our apartment.

About 4pm we walked over to the rink, but sadly (well not for me), it had been so warm today that the ice was no longer set.  What a shame….no ice-skating today.   Dodged a bullet there.  Besides which, as I pointed out to Gra…..we don’t want to injure ourselves before our last day skiing potentially in the snow tomorrow.  He reluctantly conceded…this time.

And then there was one…!!!

And then there was only one left standing!

Well it’s not food poisoning! During the night Marie lost her battle to the nasty gastro virus that’s apparently making its presence felt in Arabba. “Novo-virus?” we’re not sure.

So now, there’s only “Iron-Guts Graeme” left to command the ship. And thank goodness..only in absolute desperation could Hubert or I manage to drive the 2.5 hours to the airport and we needed to leave this morning at 9:30am to get H&M on their flight.

I managed to keep down a bowl of porridge but nothing for the Frenchies aside from Immodium and an unpronounceable drug that stops nausea. Marie is looking particularly green and given her predilection to car sickness she’s absolutely dreading the drive back down to the airport with all the twisty mountain roads.

Between moans and groans we did all manage to have a laugh about our predicament. Certainly it was not in the “script” for the weekend.  And Gra & I do feel very sorry for H&M.  It’s OK for us.  I just crawl back into bed for the rest of the day and the next if I need to.  They have to work.  Tomorrow morning, Marie is lecturing at university, with tennis final in the evening and Hubert has to catch the 5:30 am TGV to Paris!    Fingers crossed they beat this nasty bug quickly.

While we were in the midst of our ailment comparisons, our doorbell rang.   This has only happened once way back in December, and while immersed in our enthusiastic gastroenterology descriptions, we didn’t recognise the sound of our doorbell buzzer.  We thought that it was our neighbours and failed to answer the door.  To our surprise when we finally did open our door some time later to head out, we found a beautiful home-made cake on our doorstep.

Our lovely home-made torta from Gabi
Our lovely home-made torta from Gabi

Gabi our landlady had dropped it off for us.  We couldn’t believe it!   Fortunately with Marie translating we found out that Gabi’s daughter, Elisa who owns our apartment had made it for us.  We’re still not quite sure why, but I think that finally after weeks of being super cheerful, every time we meet Gabi & Carlo, we may finally have broken through their reserve.    In addition to Marie’s heartfelt Italian thanks on our behalf this morning, I also used google translate to pen a personal email to Gabi & Elisa expressing our thanks. I am sincerely hoping that google translate hasn’t said anything wrong.    I remember 15 years ago when google translate was in its infancy, using it to do a German translation of our lodge room features.  We had heated mirrors in all the bathrooms, or “mist-free” as we described them in English.   I thought I had better just double check the translations and duly sent off the transcript to my good friend Anett, our German native, who advised me in fits of laughter that we were advertising that our bathrooms all had “s_ _t” [excrement] free mirrors.  Google translate is a literal fellow and “mist” in German means dung! Hardly something you’d boast about in a bathroom.      I can only hope that 15 years down the track, google translate has been continually improving its Italian or there’s no telling what I’ve just written to our landlords…stay tuned.

But then the dreaded car journey.  We had packed a bucket, tissues, water, plastic bag and toilet paper. A bon-voyage cocktail of immodium & paracetamol last thing and we think we’ve covered every contingency.   Driving on our mountain roads or an autostrada, means that you can’t always stop immediately and pull off.  And so began the journey.  Pretty much zero conversation for poor Graeme, as all of us fell into a stomach cramping sleep.

No conversation on road to airport
No conversation on road to airport

And finally we arrived at the airport for the last photo.  You’ll notice a nice soft focus to the shot….I chose the “beauty face” setting on the camera to help us all feel a bit better.

Finally the mountain roads are over!
Finally the mountain roads are over!

Nothing much to report about the drive home.  We will be doing this same drive again on Friday when we go to Venice for a couple of days and then again on 10 Feb when we take our friend Richard back to the Airport.

Unfortunately, Liz, Richard’s wife is unable to come.  They are trying to sell their house in Araches and they have a keen buyer from England who can only come to see their house on the week that they’d booked to visit us.   Brexit is making things very tricky for UK ex-pats in France.  Fingers crossed they will make their sale and move on with their next projects …of which they have many!  But Richard is still coming which is great.

Back in Arabba, a quick re-stock and then an early night to try and throw this nasty bug and with a certain trepidation that ol’ “Iron-guts” might finally succumb.