Saturday, October 27, 2012

Holy Cow, Lake Como

The day after we returned to Madrid from Greece, we booked an impromptu trip to Italy, where we visited Lake Como, and then met up with Luke's long time best bud and my best boy bud by marriage, Adam, in Stresa, Italy.  We had known for a while that Adam was coming to Italy but weren't sure if we would be able to make our schedules work. At the last minute we decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see such a good friend on this side of the pond and pulled the trigger. We booked the trip on Friday early afternoon and flew out to Milan early the next morning, where we rented a car, made a brief stop for lunch in the center of Milan and then drove about 1 hr South to Lake Como.

A plaza in Milan.

The Duomo in Milan. Luke got to walk through, but I wasn't allowed because I was wearing shorts. So was Luke. Sexual discrimination. ;)

Remember my earlier travel advice from Paros and Asturias? When you see a tiny door, pose in front of it.
When we arrived in Lake Como, we checked into our hotel, went to dinner and then browsed through a cute wine shop where we bought a nice bottle called Fay that we plan to save until we make it back up to Fayetteville someday.

Our special bottle.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, did a little reading and coffee drinking while overlooking the Lake and then headed off for a hike. The hike was supposed to be about 4 km straight up to the top of a mountain called Monte Crocione and then 4 km back down. But it didn't quite go as smoothly as planned. Probably about 2 km into the climb, we came across a huge, mean cow standing right in our path. The cow was in his "yard" but there was no fence or barrier between him and us.  We've come across sheep, goat, deer and even cows before on hikes, and I am always scared to pass. Luke normally talks me into continuing on saying that the animals aren't paying any attention to us. This time was different, and I knew it was serious when Luke agreed. This gigantic cow was staring directly at us and then started making an awful moo. I wish we'd gotten it on video because this was no normal moo. He was warning us. I ran to higher ground reasoning that maybe I could try to climb a tree if the cow charged while Luke took a quick video. ( Click here for video of our encounter with the cow!) We waited a few minutes to see if he would go on his way letting us safely pass.  He didn't budge but continued to moo, so we slowly backed down the path disappointed but ready to get the heck away from that scary cow!

Leisurely morning on the lake.

Beautiful day for a hike.

All smiles, kisses and hugs before the cow.

The donkeys let us pass...

But the cow wouldn't have it.

The hike kind of went down hill (no pun intended) after the cow got in our way (pun intended.) We headed back down the hill and decided to go up another way to Monte Nava. We climbed steep hills for what seemed like hours and never made it to the top of anything, and I have to admit that I began suffering from what many might call an attitude problem. My legs were exhausted and burning from the climb. We didn't have a map and knew no idea what path we were on, where we were headed or how long to expect it to take. And I know it's all about the journey, but with hiking, it's kind of a lot about the destination. It's hard. You spend so much time staring at the ground as you walk to keep from tripping over rocks or tree trunks, but you know you'll be rewarded at the end with a beautiful view or an amazing waterfall. This time I didn't have the reward at the end to look forward to, and I was pretty ready to be done. We eventually passed another couple who was turning around and heading back down the mountain. They said that they'd talked to a local hiker who had told them that they were still a ways away from the top and there was a chance of rain. We didn't want to get stuck in the rain or dark and Luke was probably sick of my complaining, so we turned around and headed down to. We stopped at a random spot on the side of the path and had the quick picnic that we'd packed before continuing down. If I remember correctly, we probably hiked "up" for 5-6 hours; we got down in about 45 minutes. Obviously, it was much easier going down the supremely steep hills, but I'm also convinced that we went back and forth across the mountain too. There were tons of paths and turns, and remember, we were trail guide-less. After our long day, we enjoyed a nice, long tasty dinner at an adorable local restaurant recommended to us by our hotel.

Change of plans. Monte Nava it is.

Lake Como.

I think this picture is quite funny to compare to the first one. I was finding it harder to smile at this point. :)

We didn't make it to the top, but this tunnel we had to walk through was pretty cool.

Picnic with a view.

At dinner, the lady brought out this electric thing to kill a fly. Luke got to play with it.

After dinner Grappa. When in Rome Italy...

The restaurant was rustic, romantic and delicious.

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