Why is every place we go to in Europe the new most beautiful place??
I had this feeling after Munich. Munich totally caught me off guard with its beauty. In fact, I remember writing on the blog that I was amazed how block after block after block of that city was so lovely.
But friends, Lake Como is like Munich on steroids. How can every aspect of every little village along such a big lake be so perfectly beautiful?? View from the water – breathtaking. View when walking along the major streets – charming. View along each tiny alley – enchanting. WHAT COUNTRY HAS BEAUTIFUL ALLEYS?????
Day 2 in Lake Como was mostly overcast, but the theme of the day, for me, was beauty. We started the morning with bread (from the butcher shop below our Air BnB) and jam (homemade by our Air BnB host.) Doesn’t everything about that just scream idyllic??!
Then we hopped in the car for a quick drive down to Menaggio. From there we caught our first of 3 ferrys for the day.
For only 15 Euro per person, we bought a day pass for ferries in the mid region of Lake Como. I am convinced that this is an absolute bargain and anyone who goes to Como should do it. We departed Menaggio with minimal wait (hooray for the off season!) and made the chilly but quick jaunt over to Belaggio. In terms of the pants metaphor for Lake Como, Belaggio is located right at the crotch.
Bellagio feels quite touristy, but also very magical. We debarked from the ferry and found ourselves immediately ushered up this steep, narrow stair passageway. On each side we saw fancy stores and quaint restaurants. It’s a miracle I didn’t trip in this part of the day because I was so busy looking from side to side to drink it all in (more on tripping later).
We spent the next hour or so (who knows anything about time while on vacation!) exploring narrow passageways and hidden harbors before grabbing a pasta lunch and boarding our next ferry.
Our next ferry took us from Belaggio across to Varenna, which is on the eastern side of the lake. I think we were all under the impression that Varenna was going to be a repeat of Bellagio, but we still wanted to go in order to say we had been on both sides of the lake. It turns out we were quite wrong. (Does it sound like I’m a shameless promoter of Lake Como?)
Varenna is its own thing and well worth the visit. I think the pictures don’t do the differences justice, and based on them the two towns look quite similar. But in fact, Varenna felt more rustic – with meandering stone paths that went up and over and around. It was less intensely touristy. It’s hard to explain, but it just felt new.
Here in Varenna we did more walking to explore the area, and when the sun finally poked through for a bit, we seized the chance to sit in a small harbor. The boys threw things in the water (their second favorite thing after gelato). And after that – of course we had to go back to the shops to partake in the boys’ first favorite thing.
Friendship and learning to enjoy it all
Realizing that we probably wanted to get home for dinner at some point, we made our way back to the ferry dock. In Menaggio and Bellagio the ferries had been uncannily timed. We waited mere minutes at each for those towns to catch a ferry. In Varenna, however, we waited quite a while in the chilly air. We also tried to get on the wrong ferry – twice.
But this is exactly the reason why friends should travel together. Alone I might find it hard to enjoy detours and cold weather – even on vacation. But if there is good conversation? Well that is a game changer. The thing I remember most from this chilly wait at the water’s edge was a conversation I had with Beth. Vacationing with friends after not seeing them for a long time means that there is lots to catch up on. This trip to Lake Como was perfect for that. We had many meals, walks, waits, and evening fires to simply enjoy the company of our friends.
When the beauty finally got the best of me
After returning home, Daniel and I decided to try for a quick run. Even though our trip was walking heavy, Daniel and I always try to run at least once when traveling. Well – I’ll be honest – “run” is a loose term. We spend a lot of our time stopping for pictures every 50 feet.
On this particular “run”, we explored an old road that is now primarily for pedestrian use. It goes right along the water’s edge, through some tunnels that shouldn’t be creepy but still are, and past a villa that was featured in the movie “Casino Royale.”
During this run – once again – I found myself looking at everything except where I was putting my feet. So at one point, the sidewalk sort of devolved into a gravel edge and I myself devolved right with it. I tripped on pretty much nothing, cut my right hand, and spent the rest of the run trying to remember not to smear blood on anything. It was classic. Lake Como is like this beautiful Venus fly trip and I was definitely its victim on this ocassion.