1. Forgo “google maps” for something a little more European: Via Michelin
I love how one is urged to take a break after “almost 2 hours” !!
I also love those tunnel names.
2. Spend a whole day researching this route, the weather and traffic websites in both German and Italian trying to make sure that the roads will be safe enough and the passes will be open despite recent heavy snowfall.
3. Just decide to do it anyway–and start packing.
4. Make sure you equip your car with the necessary road trip treats. Having a large variety of treats will ensure that
a) you will have an item for whatever you may be in the mood for during the 10+ hours on the road.
b) you can subsist on the food in your car for at least a month in case you get snowed in on one of those aforementioned mountain passes
c) you will end up in Italy with enough food to share with american treat-deprived relatives and still enough for the ride home.
We recommend the following shopping list: apples, oranges, peanut butter sandwiches, rice cakes, Club crackers, goldfish, kettle style barbecue potato chips, Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles, Spicy Thai Doritos, black licorice, skittles, starbursts, peanut M&Ms, Reeses Pieces AND Reeses Big Cups. Make sure you have some water bottles to help you wash everything down.
Then organize the treats in to bags based on : Baby Treats, Healthy, Salty, Sweet, & Chocolate. This makes for easy access when the driver requests a specific item.
5. Get up at 6 in the morning, pack your car, grab your baby, say a prayer, thank your husband for agreeing to this ambitious road trip, and don’t turn around- even though it may start snowing harder!
WELL, at least thats how it worked for us. The motivation to drive to Italy was to see my amazing, beautiful, darling, talented, smart, wacky, crazy, funky, amazing, crazy and wacky funky cool niece Sara. (Sorry Holly– not that you are not also beautiful, darling, talented, smart, wacky, crazy, funky, amazing, wacky, crazy and funky cool, just that I made you say amazing, beautiful, darling, talented, smart, crazy, wacky, funky, amazing, crazy and funky wacky cool 3 times in your head while reading this and then having to relive the moment when we kept bugging you by saying crazy, funky, wacky amazing, crazy wacky funky cool over and over again.)
We had a nice but very small and quiet birthday for Fiona, and since Sara’s birthday is almost exactly a month later, I thought it would be fun for all of us to celebrate it together. That combined with Rijen having work off for Presidents Day Weekend made it an opportune time to go see Sara, Sam and Dani in Grosseto, Italy.
I will post more later about the actual birthday party and some day trips we took, however in this post I wanted to share some pictures from the road. I am including pictures from the way there and the way back, just to have all of the “road trip” pictures in one spot.
I took this picture quickly before we went into one of the many, many tunnels that constitute a trip to Italy via Switzerland. By the way, the “holding your breath in the tunnel” thing doesn’t work here. You would die.
I was very worried about how Fiona would do in the car. We both did the 5 hour drive to North Carolina several times, and she usually did ok. However this would be twice as long, and she is now twice as old, and potentially twice as loud when she gets mad. I shouldn’t have worried though, Fiona has always been good when it counts. To summarize, Rijen and I felt that both on the way there and back, Fiona basically slept through Germany and Italy, and cried much of the way through Switzerland.
When she wasn’t crying in Switzerland, she was captivated as was I, by the beautiful mountains. It reminded me of how much I loved the mountains growing up in Utah, and it also confirmed to me that a mountain view is by far my favorite.
When in Italy, Fiona amused us to no end by intently studying this brochure that Rijen grabbed at a toll booth. He assumed it would be a general brochure about the Italian motorways or the tolls or something like that, but when I looked at it I could tell that it had to do with carpooling. When Fiona started squawking, I handed it back for her to entertain herself with. The picture doesn’t do it justice, as I snapped it too late, but she had been holding it right side up and unfolded it perfectly and was looking at it for so long, it really seemed as if she was reading it.
On the way home, we stopped in Switzerland to gas up and to let Fiona have some fresh air. We thought about going in for lunch, but were just anxious to get home. I saw a couple walking out with a long baguette, so I told Rijen to scout it out. He came out with the same long, crusty baguette, Mineralwasser (the fizzy water) and a big hunk of Alpen Kaese. (Swiss cheese- not meaning the US generic term for cheese with holes, but a rich tasting semi-hard cheese). I was happy to get a break from our alarming variety and quantity of junk food and all three of us happily shared bites of this make-shift lunch as we continued through the end of our journey.
Does falling asleep while clutching her abacus (birthday gift from me) mean that Fiona will be good at math…..??? I hope so! Not as comfortable as her little stuffed lion or her “Feebie” (blankie from Holly), but it sure came in handy when we needed her to calculate the running total of all of the Italian road toll fees. I guess all of that calculating wore her out in the end.
Posts to come: Day 1, 2 and 3 of our Italian Trip!