Friday, 15 November 2013

Spoiled




In the middle of  a long and rather demanding week, there are few things more stressful for Mr. S and myself than trying to book a holiday together. Still, that is just what we did.

Ever since we left Switzerland we have been dreaming about a proper ski holiday. We were not going to deny ourselves a week of frolicking in the snow. But utterly spoiled as we are after five years of being able to effortlessly commute to the nearest slopes every weekend, we felt spending two full days in the car to only find ourselves endlessly queuing for lifts to just go down overcrowded pistes, was simply beneath us. Hence we didn't book a hotel, didn't decide where we wanted to go, nor when our dreamed up holiday should take place. Simply because taking action would mean accepting the fact that we are no longer living in Switzerland, are no longer expats so can't take our children out of school a day or so before they officially break up to make traveling a bit less stressful.
We told the children - who by the way are dying to go skiing - that we might skip a winter and tried telling ourselves that going on a very expensive winter holiday would only eat into our savings and therefore was not a very grown up thing to do. Unfortunately, to no avail.
So we toyed with some ideas for a while, ranging from swopping houses with expat friends still living in Switzerland, or renting a shoebox sized appartment in France, to booking a trip to Norway to 'get away from it all'. But we never once turned on the computer to actually see what is available. Until this week that is.
It all starts with me going for a coffee with one of my new friends. She also recently moved from Switzerland to the Netherlands and is very busy booking a family ski holiday. It is getting more and more difficult to find a hotel she tells me, as the Dutch February 'spring break', tends to be the exact week  when the whole of Europe heads for the mountains. Oh dear. I haven't even started looking.
I know Mr. S will be no help as he is a firm believer of the mantra:  'keeping all options open for as long as is humanly possible'. And I must admit that for him this works beautifully. Mr. S has this unshakeble belief that he will always find a hotel and he normally does, just as he always finds a parking spot close to the entrance of wherever he goes. I,  on the other hand,  always end up parking a least ten minutes walking from where I need to be, but that is a different story altogether.
Anyway, as soon as I get  home I turn on the i-pad to frantically scour the internet. I spend hours looking at hotels, appartments and B&B's close to the slopes in Austria, Italy and France. Getting nowhere of course. My total lack of focus on a specific country, let alone a ski area results in nothing but confusion. And an absolute certainty that a ski holiday is outragingly expensive, especially if you leave booking it till the last minute.
I am just about getting ready to throw in the towel when I stumble upon a little hotel in our favourite Italian ski resort that we have stayed in once before, when every other hotel in the area was fully booked. Because it is rather far from the ski lifts it isn't costing an absolute fortune. And believe it or not it still has one last room unoccupied in our designated week.
Throwing all rationality out of the window, I nearly book it straight away. It is only with my finger hovering over the send button, that I decide that may be Mr. S. deserves to have a say in the matter as well. But as it turns out that evening we are both absolutely knackered and a bit grumpy, so - in order to save our marriage - it is best if we don't talk about an expensive ski holiday.
Early next morning, just after I dropped my daughter off at school, I send Mr. S. a text with the ominous words: 'Ready to book'. Within a second I receive a reply. 'Call you in a minute', which - credit where credit's due - he does.
It's not long before we are both online checking the Italian tourist board website. Whereas it is normally utterly detrimental to our relationship to look at a computer together - we both want to be in control of the keyboard (I know, it's rather sad, isn't it) - each having our own computer (and phone!) saves the day.  As he can now see for himself that actually most hotels are fully booked (even the one that I managed to find yesterday) makes Mr. S. more sympathetic to the idea that booking a bit earlier, in general gives you just a tat more choice. Something that I no doubt can use to my advantage in the future. 
Eventually, after a lengthy session on the phone and a few more hours spend on our computers at opposite ends of the living room, we manage to secure a room in Sporthotel Platz with a very cosy, wood clad dining room where chef Theo, next in line to take over the Platz' family hotel, according to the website cooks robust, yet elegant food. And ( I am not making this up)  once a week jumps on the table with his accordion whereupon the assembled guests and the extended Platz family dance until the sun comes up. It all sounds too good to be true.
So, we have gracefully resigned ourselves to the fact that come February we will be joining the queue of Dutch cars crawling towards the mountains. Now the only thing we need to come to terms with is the fact that we can't reach Florence, Venice, the Alsace, the Matterhorn, Wales, the Yorkshire Dales,  the Lake District, or Milan whenever we fancy a nice day out. Because by golly, are we spoiled.