Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On to Lake Lugano - with more Pics!

August 13, 2013 - Destination Lake Lugano

Up at 6:45 a.m. -- wayyyyyyyyy early, considering we stayed up till nearly midnight. The saga of the "night sky pictures" was made a little more complex by the fact that Hubby wasn't familiar with my camera. But he did get it to do timed exposures. 

Lake Lugano
Trouble was, the tripod we brought along was wobbly. Nothing really turned out, and we didn't have a trip switch (I have no idea of its real name, but it's the thingy you attach to the camera and press so that you don't jostle the camera itself). 

Hubby said that if he had known how spectacular the scenery was, he'd have brought along the medium-format camera (which is HUGE and weighs a TON) and paid the extra for having to pretty much buy it its own seat on the plane. 

Again, shocked at how late the kids stayed up - but again, it's August. Nobody's in school yet. My "provincial" side is showing!

To leave the hotel, we go UP the tight spiral which we navigated DOWN. Our trip to Lake Lugano will take us via a little piece of Italy. That ought to be interesting. 

Hubby decided Italian drivers have the same death wish as motorcyclists... They're nuts right outside Milan. Mildred did her best work again and got us where we needed to go. I do have a picture of her. Hubby took the photo from her backside, and I told him NO woman likes a picture of her rump!

12:40 p.m. - arrived at Lake Lugano, driving straight through, which was a little over 4 hours. Seemed to be about 100 tunnels! I did take some pics of the tight turns we had to navigate to get back on the motorway. 

Imagine the wedding shots here...
The lake is gorgeous. Another Novotel - the Novotel Paradiso, but this one is newer. Great view of the town from the window; we didn't get a lake view. But we're seriously 2 blocks from the lakefront, so it's not a big deal. 

The room is gorgeous, and there's an interesting feature: you can see through the window wall in the shower to the commode!! Seriously. Don't quite know why they bother with a bathroom DOOR when you have a relatively unrestricted view of the potty through a window, but what do I know about architecture?

This area will be nicer to walk in than we had in Provence. It's all concentrated in a central place. Hubby took some laundry down. As soon as he gets his internet connection running, we'll go for a walk and have lunch.

We drove straight through Italy on the outskirts of Milan. Traffic flowed so smoothly (for the most part) and Mildred has such great gas mileage that we didn't even need to stop for gas. We'll have to fill up tomorrow, though. Also, on arrival in Geneva, the Heart Medicine Incident should be solved. Must also strategically re-pack everything, too. It got a little disorganized in the travel.

Going up the tram
5:30 p.m. - Hubby is trying to kill me. Seriously. The lovely young woman at the reception desk gave us another local map and said, "You should see Mt. Bre." So we got to the correct spot to catch the tram; it's a closed train that goes straight up the mountain. But once you're up there, it's another 15-minute walk down - yes, DOWN - to the better view. Of course, "down" isn't the specific issue. It's the coming "UP" to get to the tram that takes you back DOWN to street-level that's the problem. I thought the Swiss were logical... 

It was a total of 760 steps. I'm beat. And today I went without sunscreen but I did have my floppy hat. Shower. Then dinner.

OK, the Swiss believe in wash cloths, thank goodness. And they're really clever!! Walked into the relatively large bathroom and noticed a button. Well, being human, I pushed it.

Well -- whaddaya know??? It "clouds" the picture window on the side of the shower so that you CAN'T see into the toilet area. Cool. You can see OUT when you're in there, but the person in the room can't see IN. Whew!

Dinner at the hotel and then walk to the lake and perhaps coffee/tea at one of the little cafes. 

Chiesa di Loreto
On our walk today, we found Chiesa di Loreto, a lovely old church. Took pics, lit 2 candles, so between the Cathedral in Lyon and the church here, the entire family should be covered! We could have spent 2 days here easily. Still would have loved to have seen Mt. San Salvatore and the very old village of Gandria.

Gandria is only available by walking or by a boat across the lake. 

The Park
As it is, though, I ran out of steam and we ran out of time to get to both places. Must say, Hubby is, as usual "mission driven" on these trips. He has places he wants to see, whereas sometimes I just want to "be" and relax and take it easier. But that's ok. What usually happens is that we find gems that aren't mentioned on maps, so it all works out. We are, however, having trouble staying hydrated, even though we're carrying (and drinking) water. 

"Lunch" turned out to be ice cream on our way through a lovely park and to the tram up the mountain. I had a pistachio cone and Hubby had a little cup of chocolate -- so chocolate that it looked like black coffee. He gave me a taste, and it was just a total "chocolate experience." 

Washington memorial in Lugano
As we walked toward the park, we saw a memorial. I thought, "Gosh that bust looks familiar." And it was. It was George Washington. A memorial to George Washington in Lake Lugano. I couldn't make this up! So of course we took a picture of it. 

There appears to be a lot of building going on, which should be a good sign. There were people all over, lots of bikers and lots of people using scooters - the ones you use your one leg to run, not the motorized ones. And the dogs. Of course. 

I think if we had timed it differently, we would have taken the boat trip, but we just missed it, so we chose the walk. Got some postcards and a keychain. 

The park was lovely, too, as you can tell from just the few pictures. There was art all along the lakefront, and there were paddle-boats you could rent, but we weren't comfortable with that idea. There were several pavilions and plenty of places to sit. Lots of people out for a Tuesday! The picture of the gate? Can you just imagine the brides and grooms in front of that? I can. 

There were swans in the water and they came boldly up toward the people because they knew someone would feed them! Saw a "Fresh Orange Juice" vending machine - you can put your Euros in there and watch it squeeze fresh oranges for a cup of juice. That was just sitting there along the waterfront. There were a few public water fountains that you could drink from, and lots of cafes to stop at if you wanted to do so. 

Turns out we didn't go to the hotel for dinner. We had a half-hour and scoped out some places on the main drag. We realized quickly that even though we're on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano, most of what's close is Italian. Ate at La Terrazza delle Stelle - down the main street and attached to the Hotel Victoria. It was buzzing, and like I told Hubby - if there are people there, it must be ok! He had a Neapolitan pizza - 4-cheese, and I think it's the only time I've seen him actually eat gorgonzola... and I had spaghetti with clams. In the Med, you eat the seafood! Unfortunately, on the first go-round, there was a short black hair in my pasta. Not mine. Got a re-do (what is it with me and food this trip??) and ate it all. I've never had it prepared with red chilies before. A little spicy, but the clams were lovely. For dessert, Hubby had a 3-scoop ice cream of 2 choc + 1 rasp sorbet. I had a creme caramel, kind of toning down the fire of the red chilies. 
View from Mt. Bre

Lake Lugano is basically 2 lakes connected. Mt. Bre is on the north lake. We're on the main lake. Hubby said "I could live here." Astounding... it's Mediterranean. Hot. Humid. Yes, mountains, but I was shocked. I don't think I could live here, but I could come back. 

Hubby was trying to improve my photo-taking skills; he had me using manual focus and re-learning how to take "a proper head shot." The pics here are a combo of mine and his; I really can't remember, except the night shot is his. 

The sunset happened quickly, while we were at dinner. Does that in the mountains. The clouds were glorious in the rose, red, orange and yellow of the setting sun. We lingered over dinner with no feeling that, despite people coming in, we were being "rushed out." I really do like that, because in the US, it's like they're shoving the check at you while you're still chewing... 

Late dinners are an adjustment, but the portion size and restful attitude of the servers makes it easier. 

View of the town at night
All the fountains lit up. There are several, and one big jet on the lake. We waited about 1/2 hour or so (YIKES - up and OUT of our hotel room at 9:30 P.M.??? Who are we???) and wanted to see if Mt. Bre lit up what with the houses up the side of the mountain. 

Hubby was able to get his long exposures here, because he could put the camera on the seawall or on a bench. 

Tomorrow's destination is Geneva with two side trips: Reichenbach Falls and Mt. Eiger. It's hard to believe we're on the downside of our trip; the last 4 days will be in Geneva.

The Great Prescription Dilemma -- OK, so remember that I screwed up my heart Rx and didn't discover it till somewhere near Greenland?? Well, my sister managed to get the correct Rx FedEx'd to me in Geneva. And I have an after-story to tell about that one...

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