It’s my last morning in Switzerland before I head to the food capital of the world, Italy. I wanted to spend my last morning taking in a few sights before crossing the Swiss border because, other than my arrival day, I’ve spent my time in local gems and away from the major cities, but sometimes you need a typical tourist day. We spend the morning in the city of Lucerne, the home of Switzerland’s most famous bridge, Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). We walked around for about 30 minutes and then got distracted and ended up shopping and eating for the remainder of the morning.
It’s not long before I find myself on the platform with a train ticket in my passport holder. I eased onto the train and waved goodbye to my friend Lucia, but in many ways I guess I was waving goodbye to companionship as I had known it. What was most striking was the adjustment I had to make. In theory, I had prepared for the solo element of my #27daysofnew travels, but the reality (at first) was very different.
I sat on my seat in front of an American guy, clearly a traveller too, in fact the train to Como and then onwards to Milan was packed with travellers attempting to squeeze their backpacks into the overhead compartments. I watched in wonder as a group of Japanese girls took out kryptonite bicycle locks and chained their suitcase handles to the baggage rack, thinking to myself: well that is just genius! I, on the other hand, unprepared and therefore had to daydream with one eye in reality (frantically checking my backpack was still there) and the other eye gazing at the alps as they flew past. I had no idea I had the ability to multitask in such way, but desperate times…
Back to the adjustment. I realised now that I had no friends with me (wipes tear) and had no concrete plans. This was the real part of my journey and it began in Lake Como. I arrived with a warm, more hot welcome as it was 39 degrees (Celsius). Checking into the hotel I had quickly booked on my iPad the day before proved… em, shall we say, tricky. But before that, I dragged my backpack down four flights of stairs − from the station to the main street (yes the temperature was still 39 degrees) − I sighed in relief when Google Maps said that my hotel was just across the road. I took a very Italian looking side street off the main road; caught my breath in the now shaded area and smiled thinking: I’m in Italy! I may − or may not − have screamed “bitches” afterwards, but I’ll let you decide.
I get to the hotel and the receptionist politely tells me (as I politely fan myself) that there is a problem with my room and that there are no other rooms available in this hotel. Me: *smiles* stranded in Lake Como… now the fun really begins. I didn’t have much time to sweat about it, as it turns out the receptionist had booked me into another hotel further down the street. I take to the heat dragging my case over the cobbles to check into the Intercontinental and end up only having to pay for one of my two nights stay; the other hotel had kindly paid my extra night as a compliment. Good vibes all the way, good vibes.
I hadn’t planned anything in particular to see in Lake Como, but what I did have was a list of restaurants. If you can get the food choice right, the rest usually falls into place. I sat for dinner at Pane & Tulipani: located in a beautiful courtyard in front of a small church with jazz music (The Girl from Ipanema was my favourite) bouncing around the courtyard. I ordered a glass of red from Lombardy, grilled shrimp and salmon, more bread, olives, pasta, another glass of wine, dessert and a Lemencelo. I had my Eat Pray Love moment, true Italian style. I spent two days in Como like this: walking the lakes, eating, shopping, getting lost on purpose and generally just doing nothing. I loved every minute of it.
It’s like in that space of stillness and silence… in many ways you are confronted with yourself.
However, I realised something; and this is where I get deep. I found that you can be in such a beautiful place but somehow you’re distracted by your life situation. It’s like you’ve bought extra baggage along for the trip and although the view is mesmerising, all you see is your life stuff. You suddenly realise again and again that you cannot run from yourself. Your surroundings, no matter how glamorous, cannot disguise you from yourself. Any attempt to do so is deceit. It’s like things become clear.
Inspiration is a funny thing: I often find that the most inspiring moments arise at the times where you are solitary. It’s like in that space of stillness and silence (and sometimes loneliness), in many ways you are confronted with yourself; as a result, you are faced with your desires, your viewpoints, your ideals and passions. My solo weekend in Lake Como was not adrenaline filled adventure. It was a beautiful and much needed reset button.
I didn’t know then that I would go on to meet so many interesting people; those days would be the only solo days of my trip. This was day 4 and 5 of my #27daysofnew. You can follow my travels here on my blog or by searching the hashtag #27daysofnew on Instagram.
Change and change often. @salome.amakhi