Just a quick update since it’s been a while and a lot of you are asking… We just got back from mid-term vacance. Yes, another two weeks off at school. Vive la France!
The first week we set off for London. Armon and I wanted to show the kids where daddy disappears to every other week for work. It was also a great excuse to hang with some dear friends for a few days. And so easy to get to from Aix. A quick flight, Gatwick Express and boom – arrive at Victoria Station by lunchtime. We had a lovely week – traipsing around the city and exploring some of its fabulous features (history, art and shopping; a quick stop at Buckingham to show the kids where a real prince and princess live…).
Talia’s highlight was hanging out with her friend Amelie and going to see Mama Mia. Oh, and after two years – she finally got her other ear pierced. Much less dramatic this time…. Ozzie adored chillin’ with Caspi and the fact that everyone “speaks English”. My highlight was our one evening out with fellow partners in crime (sans kids) at La Soiree. The show has got to be one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Rachel is probably still dreaming about the man in the bath. I know I am. The show is now in Sweden, so if you happen to be visiting Umea or Stockholm anytime soon – check it out.
After London, we returned home and did the luggage shuffle – city gear out, ski gear in – and took off for Italy. Five days of skiing in the Italian Alps. My sister makes fun of the fact that we always hightail it to sunshine when we holiday, so I thought she’d be proud we ventured somewhere cold. Truth be told, I was psyched to get both the kids on skis and to get back on a board myself. While I grew up in Colorado, I didn’t really learn to ski until after I was ten years old and I always wished I’d learned earlier. Skiing is one of those life sports that is so perfect to learn as a youngster. It’s a gift Armon and I really want to give our kids. February vacation seemed like the perfect time to really get going on that gift.
We stayed at a relatively new place called the Hotel Saint Hubertus (http://www.sainthubertusresort.it/). It is a fabulously intimate and comfortable place to stay where the rooms are really apartments, suitable for couples and families. It is a quick walk into town and a one minute (if that) drive to the slopes.
We’ve crashed at plenty of great hotels over the past year and I certainly travelled a ton for work over the years and Hubertus certainly ranks up there in terms of comfort, service and overall experience. Simplistically put, the place has soul. It is owned by a husband and wife team, Frederico and Elena. Frederico was behind the desk with his horse of a mountain dog (an adorable 200 lb beast) when we arrived. He personally drove us to the ski rental shop directly after our arrival and then helped us get in to a restaurant for dinner. From what I can tell, when Frederico isn’t at his hotel, he is at his restaurant Tuktu, up on the slopes. This couple works and it shows. I think we saw both of them several times a day for the entirety of our stay – always hustling here or there and making sure their guests remain happy customers.
Frederico and Elena may be the owners of Hubertus, but a woman named Betsy runs the place minute to minute. Betsy, for reasons that will become clear in a moment, became my best friend last week. I owe her my sanity and she single-handedly helped salvage our time in Cervinia.
Sunday – arrival, check-in, ski rental, dinner, sleep.
Monday – wake, breakfast, ski school for kids, boarding lessons for me and Armon, lunch with friends, ski some more, dinner, sleep.
Tuesday – repeat.
Wednesday – repeat.
Thursday – repeat.
Friday – ski in am; drive home.
Sunday – arrival, check-in, ski rental, dinner, sleep.
Monday – wake, breakfast, ski school for kids, boarding lesson for me and Armon, lunch with friends, ski some more, Armon crashes, Talia skis to base of mountain with a stranger, Betsy tells me “Armon is hurt badly, Talia is missing…”. I find Talia, wait for Armon to be brought down mountain. The emergency technicians want to helicopter Armon, but can’t because of snowstorm. Armon heads to hospital an hour away by ambulance.
Tuesday – Armon in hospital. I take kids up to ski school and wait to hear from Armon about his prognosis. He finagles his way out of the hospital in the afternoon. No broken bones, but severely bruised rib cage and told to stay in bed for 5 days.
Wednesday – Armon in bed. I take kids up to ski school and board solo for the day.
Thursday – Armon in bed. I take kids up to ski school and board solo again for the day.
Friday – Armon in bed (we decide to stay at least one more day). I take the kids up to ski school and I take a lesson with Alessandro (aka The Maestro). So good. So good. Yes, yes, he’s a cutie and I’ve nick-named him the Italian Stallion – but he really is a great boarding instructor. Really, he is.
Needless to say the week was not what we originally envisioned. Poor Armon. To crash the first day of an extended trip and to really hurt yourself is terrible in so many ways. I’ve been there and it sucks. What also sucks is trying to get two kids up a mountain with full bellies, in ski clothes and with ski gear by 9:30am – solo. Single parenting took every ounce of patience, strength and stamina I could muster. Some mornings I fared better than others. And I have to admit I am not sure I could do it full-time. Betsy saved the day on more than one occasion.
She made sure we hade food at night. She helped us move rooms (to one without stairs, but with a fully separate room for Armon) when he came back from the hospital. She helped Armon get his prescriptions filled. She got him another doctor’s appointment when he needed it. She saved us.
We left sadly on Saturday and started the journey back home. Armon in the passenger’s seat, kids in back and me driving. We stopped in Cannes for the night (odd bird of a town, but entertaining people watching). We had a lovely lunch beachside on Sunday and finally pulled into Aix late Sunday afternoon. Monday the kids went back to school and life is slowly getting back to whatever it is that we call “normal”.