Before I went to Lake Como, the one thing I knew I wanted to see was…George Clooney’s house. Sometimes I amaze myself with my shallowness. To be fair, I didn’t know a ton about Lake Como – and it’s not really a place for visiting attractions. Most people go to Como to relax and indulge, so that’s exactly what I did.
On a weekend trip from my au pairing gig in Pavia (just outside Milan), I headed for Como. The journey took two trains and a long ferry ride, but I can sleep on literally any train in the world and the ferry ride was one of the most beautiful ever. So I was pretty okay with it. Direct quote from my travel journal: “I just successfully put liquid eyeliner on on a moving train and I don’t know if I can top that as the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” I stand by that.
Also, having a respite from a screaming mother and crying children was pretty great. I can’t wait to write a post about my …well, let’s say interesting au pair experience. Back to the ferry ride. I bought a ticket for the slow option, which would take me to Menaggio and my chosen hostel.
Several hours and only 10 Euros later, I hopped off the ferry feeling like I had already experienced an entire getaway. Sitting on the boat, eavesdropping on the adorable British family in front of me and trying to catch a glimpse of George Clooney was so relaxing. It’s not often that getting to your destination is one of the best parts of a trip, but in this case it sure was!
After passing a ton of amazing towns and wishing I was staying there, Menaggio needed to be pretty awesome for me to be blown away. It somehow succeeded! I may not have had much choice in where to stay, since there aren’t a lot of hostels, but I still made the right choice.
There are three main towns clustered around the centre of the lake: Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna. Bellagio is packed with extremely rich people and designer shops. I do remember liking Varenna, but the sleepy vibe of Menaggio and the incredible sunsets (see next picture) took it leaps and bounds above the others. I met up with some fellow au pairs at La Primula Hostel and we revelled in the million dollar views that we were getting for around 20 Euros a night.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the hostel view – some of my pictures were among the bunch I lost when my phone was stolen in Perugia. Trust me when I say it is everything you want in a hostel view. It also has awesome food, gelato, and hookups for tons of activities. My au pair friends rented a boat one day and took it out, while I went to explore the other towns for an afternoon.
My only other real activity in Como was a casual morning spent in Switzerland. So cool, right?! We literally decided that morning that we’d hop a bus to Lugano and explore, so we teamed up with some Americans staying in the hostel and made the trip. Again, all my pictures are gone except one, but it was pretty beautiful and exactly what I expected of Switzerland – 8 dollar cappuccino and all. It was certainly very Italian, however, and all it really made me want to do was see more of Switzerland.
One of my most pleasant memories of Como was a night spent drinking wine and enjoying amazing pasta, alone in the main piazza of Menaggio. I used to be so uncomfortable with going to restaurants alone, but so much solo travel has taught me how to really enjoy the experience. This was a particularly special evening, alone with my thoughts, and I really love reading back through my journal (which I always write in while I’m eating alone). My descriptions of the beauty around me and my reflections on myself and my travels get progressively more funny as I drink more wine.
I always find it hard to leave places I love, but in this case it was a particular challenge. I felt so relaxed in Como, had met so many lovely people, and was really dreading going back to my au pair family. On the plus side, in a few days we’d be packing up and moving to Trieste – a city I would quickly come to love.