Sunday, November 10, 2019

Missing from 2000

Petit St Bernard Pass
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

When my husband retired from Emirates Airline in 2000, we picked up a new car in Sweden and drove around Europe for two months.  Half-way through this Grand Tour, we crossed from Italy into France. The following is excerpted from email we sent at the time.

As we made our way west, then north from Turin, it was like driving up out of a mauve sea of murk. The air got suddenly clearer, the highway got better and better, and the traffic got thinner and thinner. It was just amazing!

Then we discovered when we wheeled off our private autostrada for lunch at Morgex that we were probably the only people in Europe who didn’t know the Mont Blanc Tunnel was still closed because of the March 1999 fire.  The closest alternate route involved heading up a narrow road to the Petit St. Bernard Pass, said to be open at the time, though not guaranteed to stay that way.  As we approached the Italian/French border at the top of the pass, stretches of the road were carved out of three-metre snow banks, but the gentians and violas in the snow-free areas were brilliant, the glaciers dazzling, and there were (unsurprisingly) NO TRUCKS! Also no guardrails.

PS  We’re still driving that Volvo. And we still refer to it as our new car.