Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Day on Lake Como

Because we had spent a day and a half in Milan, we figured day three should be the day we venture out of the city. We had heard rave reviews of Lake Como and knew that it was easily accessible by train, so on Saturday we set out for Lake Como, not to be confused with Cuomo, the governor of New York. :) We took the metro to the central station, where the bigger trains arrive and depart from, and an hour later, we had arrived in Varena, a little town on Lake Como.

I don't know why I'm still surprised at how beautiful things are in Italy because almost every day, I am shocked at how stunning something is. This day, it was Lake Como. The snowy mountains that come to the edge of the lake are daunting in size, but breathtaking in beauty. In the winter, their tips are snow covered and there is a fog surrounding them that adds to their attraction.

We asked this Italian lady to take our photograph

and before we could say "Grazi!" she was posing us

I'm pretty sure Mike was having flashbacks to our engagement photo session

I don't know if you can see it, but at the top of that hill is Mike's dream home.  A castle

 We found a church....

And the cutest little villa....

Guys, we haven't found a single Russo or Caligari (my grandmother's maiden name), but you better believe we've found some Hogan signs.  WHAT?!?!!?

The view leaving Bellagio 

The small, little towns on the lake are no different. The cobblestone roads and stairs leading through different side streets just added to the ambiance. We loved wandering the streets and taking in the views, especially since the towns were pretty deserted. It was a chilly day and we were happy to cling tight to each other for warmth while walking through the the little town of Varena.

We knew that going to Lake Como at the end of January would be considered off-season, but we didn't realize quite how off-season it would be. When we arrived at 10:30, literally every restaurant and coffee shop was closed. Most of them had signs on the doors saying that they would be closed from January to March for the off-season. We decided to take the ferry to the town of the Bellagio (the famous hotel/casino's namesake!) across the lake to see if anything was open there.

Luckily, there were a few restaurants and cafes open there, although the majority followed the suit of Varena and were closed for the off-season. We found a place to eat lunch and were happy to get out of the cold for a little while. It's funny because, since the towns were so deserted, you ended up seeing the same people everywhere. We saw the couple at the table next to us at lunch almost everywhere we went, as well as two girls and their father that came over on the ferry with us,

After lunch, we found a cafe for coffee and then walked around a bit in hopes of finding a wine tasting. We had no such luck and settled on sitting on one of the benches outside and doing some reading until the ferry came to take us back to the train station. We thought that the train came every hour, but apparently it takes a break during the 3 o'clock hour, which is when we wanted to leave, so we ended up spending another hour reading at the train station.

By the time we made it back to Milan, it was almost six and time for dinner. We found a great area, Brera, with tons of restaurants serving apertivos. The first restaurant we went to had great wine and brought us a full plate of olives, little finger sandwhiches and potato chips (almost every restaurant we go to brings us potato chips! Apparently the Italians love them!). While we knew we wanted to go elsewhere for dinner, it was a great stop for apertivos. After we left, we found that most restaurants don't actually open until seven for dinner, so we walked around for a few minutes waiting for seven o'clock to hit. I guess when you fill up on apertivos, you don't need to eat dinner quite as early.

Since we had been eating pasta and pizza for three days straight, we figured it was time to change up our menu, so we found a sushi restaurant, Bento and grabbed a table. There isn't much diversity in restaurants in Izmir, so we're always excited when we head to international cities like Milan or Berlin and can eat sushi or Mexican, both of which we long for in Izmir. This restaurant didn't disappoint and our sushi was delicious.
We ended the night back at the apartment FaceTiming with some of our favorite Americans and were glad to have an early night in after a wonderful day.

Step count: 25, 249