Those of you living on these islands know how terrible the weather was the weekend we were away. The forecast was for a ‘mini hurricane’, no less! That was enough to send my already frazzled nerves into a screaming frenzy. As it turned out, both the ferry and the catamaran didn’t so much as rock once on our trip to Sicily. The only problem was that both Maia and Robin were up at midnight and both of them only managed to nod off at about 7am, when we arrived in Sicily and started our drive.
So we went straight to the shops to buy the necessary ski wear that would keep Maia and me dry on the snow. The husband and Robin were already prepared but our running shoes and jeans weren’t going to cut it.
Then it was time to hit the slopes! This was when Maia, Robin and I first saw the snow. The three of us were wide-eyed and giggling like little girls (which is fine if you’re 7 years or 9 months old but a little pathetic if you’re 35). Unfortunately, it was raining so Robin and I had to wait for the others in a little cafe’ where I drank hot chocolate and Robin filled up on milk. After a little while, the husband, Maia and the other two kids joined us, at which point I left the baby with the husband and ran outside with the girls squealing with delight. I could finally touch the snow without worrying I’d drop Robin head first out of her sling!
When the slopes closed, we finally made our way towards the accommodation we had booked. It was a small hotel/bed and breakfast in the countryside. It should have taken us half an hour to reach. Two hours later we were still trying to reach it. All the roads leading to it were closed off because of recent landslides and by 6pm, all the kids were crying and I was about to join them. We hadn’t eaten anything decent since breakfast and had been awake since midnight. I had been breastfeeding Robin often and was so out of it that I had to make an effort not to black out. We tried asking for directions which might be more helpful than the ones our GPS was giving us, but all the villages we passed through seemed to be ghost towns. Then, just as I was starting to hyperventilate, we spotted two ladies in the street and we stopped to ask for help. When my husband started asking for directions towards the hotel, I barged in and demanded that they show us where the nearest hotel was. They must have seen the desperation in my eyes and one of them promptly jumped into her car and led us to an old lady’s house out in the countryside.
Now, I am not the kind who likes to rough it when I’m on holiday. I’ll take a Hilton over a camping site any day, but I was so desperate for food and a bed that I would have camped in the middle of the street. I remember very little of the rest of that day. I think I was asleep by 8pm but I cannot say for sure. In any case, any reservation I might have had about our new accommodation vanished the following morning when we woke up to the smell of freshly baked bread. The old lady and her husband have a small bakery in their yard! They also grow most of their own vegetables and have rabbits and hens (who gave us our eggs in the morning).
On Saturday the weather caught up with us. We got frantic calls from our islands informing us that our rocks could very well be washed away while we were on holiday. The mountain was closed off so we decided to go to Catania instead. All the shops were closed because of warnings the government had issued, which was a bummer. We wondered what all the fuss was about until we reached the coast road and saw the 6 metre waves and broken trees. We didn’t know what to do so we headed for Ikea. We would be warm, fed, the children could play freely in the crèche and we could do some shopping. Except, it was closed. It was the weirdest sight, I’m telling you. Big shops like Ikea totally deserted. It looked like the end of the world was nigh.
The next day was a bit better weather-wise but the pistes were still closed. So we went up to the snow and sledged and built snowpeople instead. It was snowing all the time so, after having spent some time tucked inside a backpack and watching the rest of us have fun, Robin had to be taken to the car to be changed, fed and played with. I am so grateful for this baby. She’s so easygoing I almost cannot believe she’s my daughter. Then again, she must have taken after her dad. When everyone had had enough of the snow, we headed to Ikea. Ikea Take Two was a success. We got the bits and bobs we needed and some other stuff we didn’t really need.
Sunday was supposed to be our last day but the trip back was cancelled due to bad weather, so Monday morning saw my husband, Maia and our friends leaving the house early for a day of skiing. I decided to stay behind with Robin so she could rest as much as possible before our long journey back home. When the adventurers came back that afternoon, we drove back to the catamaran but we arrived there early so we spent our last hour in Sicily on a nearby beach. It was very cold but absolutely beautiful.
Two ferry trips and one crazy drive later, we were home.
While this wasn’t exactly a relaxing break for me, we got to make more memories for our children and we made Maia’s wish come true, which is what really counts. I also discovered another side of Sicily I never knew about…one with snow and welcoming grannies.