Grace and I started our day at the crack of dawn in Marrakech, grabbing breakfast at the Riad and catching a cab to the airport. We almost got in a couple wrecks on the way and our driver used his horn excessively so it was a fitting departure from Morocco. When we got to the airport, we quickly realized that we weren’t exactly flying into Milan like we thought…RyanAir beat us on this one. (Disclaimer: when we booked the flight it only said Milan!!!) We were actually flying into Bergamo- a city outside of Milan and one we couldn’t find on a map. But without Internet access on our phones, we were a bit helpless. So we got on our flight and hoped for the best.
Upon arriving in the tiny Bergamo airport we went on a search first for luggage storage since I had a suitcase with me for study abroad, but obviously didn’t want to drag it around for the next three weeks. After many failed attempts we discovered it in a parking lot and the sweet guy working gave us a huge discount. Next challenge was to figure out how on earth we were going to get to the Milan Centrale train station since there were no trains from Bergamo headed to Lake Como. We paid €5 and hopped on a bus with two minutes minutes to spare and headed to the train station.
About an hour later we pulled up to the station, which was absolutely beautiful! However, we only had fifteen minutes to catch the train, so we tried to take pictures while running through crowds of people with our backpacks. (This was an action shot taken mid-sprint, explaining the poor quality)
Well you probably guessed it…we missed our train. Since we hadn’t used our EuRail passes yet we had to get them validated at a ticket counter. When you’re in one of the busiest train stations in Italy this is no easy task. An hour later of waiting in line we got our passes stamped and made it on the train we needed. It was such a relief! Despite the craziness of the day, I felt 10x more capable and confident that Grace and I could successfully pull off this trip and handle all the bumps along the way. When we got off the train in Como we jumped around, giggled and high fived each other because 1) massive relief that we still weren’t stuck at the Bergamo airport and 2) the little of Como we had seen so far was GORGEOUS
We bought another ticket for the bus to take us to our hostel, which is in Menaggio; about an hour bus ride from the train station. But the ride was wonderful! When we finally got a full view of the lake I cried. Y’all, I cried because it was so beautiful, I couldn’t contain all of my joy! The lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides, some shrouded in mist, others snowcapped. And the houses and gardens were unbelievable that were in the little shore towns. Nearly every building had balconies, shutters, arches, flower boxes and ivy perfectly growing up the side of them. Each building had so much character but they all meshed together so well. My mouth just kept dropping open as the views grew more vast and the buildings more elegant.
By luck and some rough translations with our bus driver, we got off at the right stop and figured out where our hostel was. Once again the jumping up and down and giggling ensued because it literally felt like we were in a dream. (Or a little loopy from traveling for 12 hours straight) Walking up to the hostel took twice as long because we HAD to keep stopping and taking pictures.
The hostel is wonderful! I had a great dinner of homemade beef stew, mashed potatoes and bread. Everyone was so friendly and it was fun to have dinner with people from all over and hear about their trips or study abroad experiences. We ended up getting to stay in the best room in the place with a great balcony and even better view of the water.
We wandered around the sleepy little town after dinner and immediately decided that we must move here at some point in our lives. There are gardens, fountains and flowers everywhere. It was so peaceful to walk along the water looking across the lake at the twinkling lights of the towns that climb up into the mountains. I think we may have discovered the most picturesque Italian town in existence!
Funny side note: If anyone reading this blog is wanting to go backpacking, bring a towel! Grace and I leaned this hard way…the hostel we are staying at doesn’t provide towels and neither one us brought one. We opted to dry off with some semi-clean t-shirts that are now hanging up to dry. It was pretty fitting with all of the experiences we had today!