Friday, October 4, 2013

Lake Como, Italy

I have traveled all over the United States. In fact, the only state I have yet to visit is Alaska. When I was a kid, driving all over the US was a way to have a great vacation for little money. Coming from blue collar stock this was a wonderful way to see the world. We were also THAT family. Biggest ball of yarn...yeah, we saw that...biggest iron skillet...yup, been get the idea. So I'm one of those people who love to go off the beaten path and explore just to see what there is to see. But Europe was out of my reach. Another one of those things about me is that I'm a bit claustrophobic. Flying is hard for me. Totally worth it to get from point A to point B but, for years, the idea of spending 10-14 hours in an airplane just paralyzed me. So I've been happy to travel the USA and see what we have here, dilly dally along the edges of Canada and Mexico...basically see whatever I could see in a car or a short plane ride. 

Then my mom went to Greece. She got bit by the European bug called International Travel. The whole time she was there she kept wishing I was there and seeing what she was seeing. Knowing how much that would mean to me as a photographer, when she got back home she began to plan this trip to Italy and to take me along with her. Well, when someone says "Hey, wanna go to Italy?" you don't just say "No" swallow down your fears and GO FOR IT! This is when we found Go Ahead Tours and have happily traveled with them since.

My first taste of Italy was Lake Como. Yes, the land of George Clooney and his vacation home. Funny story about that one later. First some photos...(remember to click on the photo to see the larger version!)
To get to our hotel we actually started on the road above the lake and worked our way down to the main road that encircles the lake. We travel in very cushy motorcoaches so I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery! This was our first view. 

There were times when we got to a switch-back and were able to see the other end of the lake as well. Check out the huge stadium! This is downtown Como. You will see other photos of that town on another day but today this blog is all about arriving in the Lake Como district.

 When we arrived at this hotel I thought it looked a little bit like an Embassy Suites here in the US. But I was soon to learn that it was very, very different. This is a family owned business and it is designed to be more like you were staying at someone's home. The rooms are sparse with older furniture...not like 1960's but more like 1901. The sheets are starched white with frilly covers. There are no tv's, no telephones and no digital alarm clocks. Just a small room with two twin beds and a modest bath. This was also to be the place where we had some of the most amazing food in all of our tours of Italy. The Sage Gnocchi was incredible!
 The gardens of this hotel were charming. The first glance at the property reveals a modest Inn but once you begin to walk around it you see that every free space has flowers and suddenly you realize that it isn't just an Inn, it's a "Gardens" too!
 These primroses were growing along the gates.
 It was clear that someone in the family was a gardener since each plant was very well pruned and cared for.
 Our room had a gorgeous view of the Lake. We had been up for 22 hours and dinner was still a couple of hours away so we decided to go explore along the beach instead of taking a nap which may well have taken us through the night.
 I love this photo of my mom. The walk to the beach took all of 3 minutes. As much as I love the water I was SO happy to hear that it was just under the overpass from the hotel and they had a private path so we didn't need to cross the busy roadway to get there. As you can see, it was very overcast so, while beautiful, not the bright blue skies we had hoped for when we stepped off the plane in Milan.
 But the view. Oh yes, the view. Just so beautiful. When we got down to the "beach" (which was about 6 feet of rocky sand) this was our view to the left.
The view to the right is back towards the little village and makes for one of my favorite photos of Lake Como. It takes me right back there every time I see it. Simply beautiful!

Next week I'll take you along with us on our little walk around the neighborhood and to see their local castle!
Until then you can find me on Instagram. Just follow shutterbugtraveler there!


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