Como, Italy

The train station in Como sat on top of a hill overlooking the town (featuring a stunning sunset), which was good because there was absolutely nothing to see inside the station. It was the smallest station we had been in; there was one cafe, no wifi, and we didn’t see a place to check bags. It was already late, so we were just going to head to the hotel. I had even saved a map of how to get there on my phone…what could go wrong? (Folks, if this isn’t the first Travel Diary you’re read of mine, you know everything goes wrong when maps are in involved. But, if this is the first Travel Diary you’re reading, you need to start from the beginning: The First Leg. Or, if you’re wondering why I am doing all this, check out The Background.) Basically to get to the hotel that was down the street and around the corner, we walked a large block around the tiny town and appeared at the hotel from the other side. Keep in mind that we’re each lugging a thirty pound backpack and a fifteen pound “frontpack”. Sister and I survived, but we were grumpy about it. We checked into the hotel and headed up the elevator to our tiny room. We were sharing a bed and there was basically no floor space, but hey! Free wifi and a warm shower, what more could a girl ask for? We called home to let everyone know we were still alive.

In the morning, we got all ready to go and checked out. I had done research the night before, and online forums claimed there was a small bag check at the train station. We were spending the day in the town, but there was no way we were lugging around our massive bags. This time, we knew how to get to the station; just down the street past the giant hand statue.

Sister sat with the bags while I looked for the baggage check. The station wasn’t that big at all, so I just followed the signs to one Italian man sitting at a table with a paper sign. We communicated in crude English (yes, I’m that annoying traveler who doesn’t speak any of the language), and he charged us per bag. I felt kind of strange leaving our bags in his hands simply because he was a person and not a machine. I had all my money and valuables with me, and I watched him lock our bags in a room so I shook away my fears.

Next up, Sister and I were headed out to the beautiful Lake Como. You’ve probably heard of it. George Clooney has a house there. We took some time to admire the beauty of the lake, noting all the boats and the little houses across the way. By this time, it was 11, and I was starving. Like any normal traveler, I decided on classic Italian food—a piece of pizza from a food stand. It was the best pizza I’d had so far.

Sister and I ate in the park next to the lake and discussed what to do. We walked up and down the shore, taking in the view and looking for a place to get on a boat tour. We found the dock that seemed the major dock for everyone and bought tickets for a one-hour ride to see all the little ports around the lake. There was some time before the tour, so we walked out on a long dock to see a famous statue that stood surrounded by the water.

After people watching there for a bit (seriously, dude, your kid is drinking from the fountain), we went back ashore to find gelato. I got a delicious fruity cone and Sister got chocolate chip.

We took ourselves, dripping with sticky melted gelato, to the line for the boat. We boarded quickly and set off to see the tiny islands all around. It was stunning, and we saw a swimming spot we wished we could visit—who would’ve thought we might’ve needed our bathing suits at a lake? Some of the towns on the lake looked classic Italian, some just had modern hotels, and some were private homes.

The boat brought us back to where we started from, and we headed into another part of town. Sister hates shopping, but we stumbled upon the commercial district. I had fun looking around, especially peaking into a church that wouldn’t allow us in due to our immodesty. However, I didn’t like the two men dressed in mascot costumes standing behind women until they noticed and jumped, or being approached and called sexy by a knock-off Cookie Monster.

We headed back lakeside and spent some time putting our feet in the water. People were swimming, even though the “beach” was made of pager blocks. It was interesting to watch everyone splash around; we stuck our feet in and watched the ducks. A museum was right behind us, and we might as well take a look! The entry cost was a euro a piece, and we realized why after a minute or two. It was interesting, for sure. It was about a scientist who lived in Como, Alessandro Volta. He invented the battery (see, Volta—volts?), so his whole museum was just a collection of his different tools with labels. I could only look at so many different variations of a beaker in the small circular museum.

By then, I was hungry, so we headed back towards the area of our hotel. We stopped at a grocery store to get water, and then I found a little street stand and got a warm ham and cheese. It was about time for us to head to the station (or so we thought). We got to the station, checked the schedule, reclaimed our bags (In good condition! Nothing stolen!), and then had nothing to do but sit for an hour. We hadn’t yet learned that your really have to be five minutes early for a train; throughout the trip, we kept overestimating time for fear of ever being late. Folks, I payed €4 for Wifi and I’m not ashamed. There train station had a little Internet cafe, so I chalked up the money for the wifi. He took my phone to type in the password, but I watched. In case you’re ever in the train station in Como, try 1234567810. No 9. I gave Sister the password because I’m a devious evil thief, and we sat contently for fortyfive minutes until our train arrived. Off to Venice!

Como, Italy