Monday, 9 September 2013


Planning our travels I have blundered on numerous occasions. When planning our first trip to Scotland, I interpreted distances on a map as kilometres when they were actually miles, forcing jet lagged Jim into driving a far greater distance after disembarking our flight than he should have. That he remained awake and drove on the 'left' hand side of the road without incident is a testament to his sheer determination. In Ireland, I booked an Avoca B&B in which the washroom was so small, Jim barely fit in the shower; for sure he could not turn around in it! We still laughingly refer to it as "that munchkin WC". That was actually, the last B&B I ever booked; it has been primarily inns or small hotels since. In Italy we missed an Assisi hotel reservation by a whole day. This year in Barbados, I booked our return flight on Air Canada a week earlier than I thought I had. Thank heavens we discovered the error on our premature departure date and thank heavens for an Air Canada rep with a sense of humour; she saved my bacon on that one.What was I thinking? Imagine! And they actually allowed me to sell real estate! And Jim still lets me plan our travels. Poor man! But, dear family and friends, all of these blunders pale in comparison to the colossal magnitude of the mess I created late yesterday and this morning.
Jim's highlight on this trip was to reach the Jungfraujoch on a decent day. We surpassed his hopes on that one. My highlight for this trip was to slip back into Italy for a few days on Lake Como. Having felt we had seen all we wanted to see in Lucerne and craving Italian food, we actually cancelled our last day at our Lucerne hotel and booked a hotel in Maggiori, Italy for today; this would put us closer to our Varenna destination tomorrow. It was now to be five days in Italy!
Our route was to take us over the Alps bordering Switzerland and Italy and through the 17 km. Gotthard Tunnel. What a breathtaking journey!
We never watch TV while on vacation. The only English language station is usually CNN and neither of us respect it enough to waste our time. For some reason, before leaving for dinner last night, Jim turned on a Swiss (German speaking) news station. Pictures were shown of a horrific accident; Swiss rescue teams were working through twisted burned metal in what was obviously a desperate attempt to locate survivors. At the bottom of the screen, in yellow letters superimposed over the news cast, was the word GOTTHARD. Disturbed, because that was to be our route, I immediately went to the Internet, typed in Gotthard Tunnel and a Daily-Mail-on-Line article dated September 7th, 2013 carried the following, "Some 80 people are still missing after a truck crash in a road tunnel through the Swiss Alps and a second fatal accident near another Swiss tunnel compounded traffic chaos in the heart of Europe. Officials have so far confirmed 10 people - nine men and one woman - died after the two trucks collided in the Gotthard Tunnel on Wednesday, setting off a fierce fire which turned the narrow ten-mile two-lane tunnel into a blazing inferno. Rescue workers are still battling intense heat in the Gotthard Tunnel to get to the scene of Wednesday's accident. Parts of the tunnel roof collapsed burying between ten and forty vehicles......"
Damn! Both our routes into Italy, Gotthard and Bernadino, were down. I showed the article to Jim. Out came our maps as we searched for any alternative route over the Alps. Only one other route existed but it was a small, treacherous two lane highway which we felt would be clogged with traffic.
Jim contacted in Thornhill our dear friend David MacKay, who works with a Swiss company. David very kindly had one of their executives call us in Lucerne. We explained the situation to Michael, the executive, when he generously took the time to call. He didn't say that he had not heard of any recent accident, only warned that, given the closing of two tunnels, border routes would be in total chaos. We went on to discuss possible alternative places to visit in Switzerland. Honestly, I was gutted. Ugly super sulking may be a more appropriate description. Jim, being his usual philosophical self, reminded me that we were lucky to not be in that tunnel at the time of the accident.
The call to Michael was over and our decision made. We would remain in Switzerland. While Jim ran down to reception to re-book for today. I emailed our hotel in Varenna, explaining the situation and cancelling our reservation. The response from the desk at Hotel du Lac in Varenna was that they understood our situation, but were bewildered because they had not heard of the accident. I forwarded the newspaper article to them. I also cancelled the new reservation in Maggiori. I then posted our dilemma on Facebook. So many of you kindly responded with gratitude that we were okay! Thank you!
Over dinner, Jim and I discussed what to do with the four days that would have been spent in Italy. We decided on Gruyeres and Montreux, the reasons for which I will explain in my upcoming blogs. This morning I awoke, began studying the hotel/inn situation in both towns, then proceeded to book hotels in both Swiss towns.
Are you following this, because I am getting dizzy explaining it all.
As non refundable, last minute reservations were completed through, I received an email from Guido (my new best friend at Hotel du Lac). Italian police when contacted stated that no accident had occurred. The one I spoke about happened in 2001! 2001? Please tell me you are kidding! Upon digging deeper, Jim and I discovered that the Swiss TV program was a special about the Gotthard Tunnel, its successes and failures. I didn't know; I don't speak German. All Daily-Mail-on-Line pages show the current date. Go figure! OMG! I now had reservations everywhere, but the new ones were non refundable!
Guido indicated that our room could easily be sold. No kidding - a room overlooking Lake Como. Sob! "No penalty, Mrs. Lockett. You come see us soon. Please come from the south!" Love the guy! Love Italians!
And so it was to be no Italia. And it was my mistake! I feel sick about it. To make matters worse Mother Nature has presented us with a dull, rainy day in Lucerne. I did get to see the well known Picasso and Klee exhibit at the Rosengart Collection, but truthfully, did not feel lifted by them. Cubism does not do it for me . (Sorry, Chris!) And then, to add insult to injury, there was a hooligan soccer riot on the street outside our hotel. More about that later.
And so I will just wallow in my self pity for this evening and then i promise to get over myself.
"Tomorrow is another day."

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