Cowbells and Castles: 5 Cities, 1 Day

This morning I woke up so refreshed! Sleeping in cooler weather and with a real pillow made a world of a difference. (We’re convinced that the pillows we had in Morocco were stuffed with newspaper) Also waking up to the view of the lake wasn’t so bad either. We grabbed a quick breakfast downstairs in the hostel chatting with some friends we met last night, they had Nutella and toast so naturally we had seconds. Since we only had the morning in Como we decided to take a hike from the Hostel. Our goal was to make it to the 16th century San Martino church which overlooks the central part of the lake and the town Bellagio. 

Getting directions from the hostel, we headed out with our cameras and some water. We quickly realized the directions were not very clear but after    walking around for a bit we found the right street and headed up, walking by a castle and beautiful villas with red tiled roofs and ivy. Turning off the paved road we headed down an ancient cobblestone path following signs to the church. This part of the hike seemed to be straight out of a movie. We walked across little bridges covered in moss, to our left was farmland with cows that were wearing cowbells! I don’t think I have ever actually seen a cow actually wear a cowbell so I was pretty excited. There were women working in the garden, a field with donkeys and a sheepdog running around. The path was pretty steep and switched back up the mountain. I have to admit, it was much more challenging that I anticipated and I was definitely winded! The top of the path straightened out and the view was STUNNING! We had a birds eye view of the city below, the castle and of course the lake and the surrounding mountains. It was gorgeous. Sitting on a bench cooling off and looking around was simply magical. We couldn’t go in the church, but major props to whoever carried all those supplies up the mountain hundreds of years ago. 

 
 

  

  We headed back down much quicker than we came up and walked back to the hostel, extremely sweaty but happy we went! I think I pointed to nearly every house and villa, telling Grace how beautiful they were and how it I just found my dream home. It felt fantastic to be outside in the perfect 70 degree weather and exercise. 

  
(This is one of the gates to the castle)

We made it back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and were headed out to catch a bus to Lugano when one of the cooks from the hostel told us he could give us a lift to the city Porleza, which was much closer to Lugano, saving us time and money. We decided to go for it, so we hopped in his little VW rabbit with our packs and off we went. Stefano told us about growing up in Como and his travels. Grace and I asked him a million questions about life in Italy and we had some great conversation! It’s funny how we tend to take what we have for granted, we freaked out when he told us he grew up on the lake and he just shrugged his shoulders and said it was fine. 

After he dropped us off at the bus station and pointed out a good gelato place for us, we bought our bus tickets and had an hour to kill. Naturally I had to get some gelato since Stefano highly recommended it. It was delicious and the first of many to come! You all know I have a strict  gelato diet to keep up with 🙂 We sat on a bench on the water relaxing a bit and then wandered down the sidewalk to a park. We watched a family of swans float by and they followed us along the shore. (I told you everything was like a movie!) Grace immediately took her shoes off and got in, after a couple minutes I had to as well. Instead of sand, the lake has a beautiful rocky bottom, with all different colored stones which we could see because the water was so clear. It was hard to walk back to the bus station because I loved our short time at Lake Como so much, but we had Switzerland to look forward to! 

  
We hopped on the bus to Lugano, realizing school had just gotten out. Every time a kid got off the bus we freaked out since we couldn’t imagine just casually walking home in a place so majestic. About 20 minutes later we crossed the border into Switzerland and it was a breeze, they didn’t even check our passports. We got off at the Lugano stop and a nice couple pointed us roughly in the direction of the train station. We ended up at the central bus station, asking for more directions. (One thing we’ve quickly learned is there is no shame in asking for directions) After stopping and asking a couple more times we knew where to go- which was up. It was like hiking round two, with our packs along for the ride. However, it was a great calf workout and we saved money on another bus ticket! 20 minutes later we were headed to Bellizona, a small Swiss town the hostel staff told us to check out. 

 

We got off at Bellizona having no idea what to do or where to go, so we just started walking. After walking down a charming street lined with trees we realized that there were castles everywhere, and one was pretty close. We only had an hour to explore but we went for it, hoping we wouldn’t have to pay. We took an elevator up and literally just walked into the castle. IT WAS CRAZY! Apparently in Switerzland castles are basically like public parks? We couldn’t believe that we had just stumbled upon this fairy tale town that had three castles in it. We had less than hour until our next train so it was the perfect amount of time to explore and soak it all in. 

  

(If you look closely you can see the two castles in the background)

  

It was incredible, what a blessing it was that someone randomly mentioned that we should stop in this town and we found ourselves in a castle?! We had a four hour train ride to Zurich where we had to catch another train. I immediately fell asleep but woke up and was stunned. Looking out the windows I saw the snow covered Alps and rolling green hills with ancient churches and buildings nestled in valleys. The farther we went the bigger the mountains became. It was stunning, breathtaking, etc. Unfortunately high speed trains don’t allow you to take the best pictures.

 Anyways our adventures continued when we figured out we had less than ten minutes to catch our connecting train. Zurich is a pretty large station so we jumped out as soon as the doors opened frantically searching for the info sign, we found it and realized we had to go down to another part of the station. This resulted in us sprinting to our next train, which was hilarious but we made it! We did the same with our connection in Bern and got on our last train out of breath but exhilarated! We decided running through the stations was pretty fun- as long as we didn’t miss our train. We made it to Interlaken around half past nine, right around dusk with enough light to walk to our hostel. It is a beautiful city surrounded by the Alps and lakes filled with water that is so blue it looks fake.

  
We got checked in and got towels! After meeting some people downstairs, some of which were from North Carolina we grabbed a super late dinner down the street. Another long day, but a fantastic day! A hike and five cities in 12 hours made for the perfect adventure.

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