3 July Flight to Adelaide via Dubai


My flight to Adelaide via Dubai from Malpensa Airport was at 2pm. I had a leisurely breakfast and checked out of the hotel.

 
Taxi to Cardona train station 10E including 2E tip. The taxi driver was nice enough to drop me at the direct entrance to Malpensa Express. The train to airport. Quick, clean, efficient and without the craziness that is Milano Centrale.

Got to airport in 40 mins. 3 1/2 hours before my flight. Good thing too. The line to get a tax refund was long and slow.

Checked in and ready to return home.

Italy – I still dream of you….

2 July Milan - The Last Supper and Shopping


It was a cold and wet morning. I had an online booking to view Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper but I almost didn't make it! For once the iPhone map instructions sent me in a circle or I lost my sense of direction in the rain. I had 9:45am time slot ticket and I got to the ticket office at 9:38 praying that they let me in. The lady looked at me sighed and then gave me tickets. Bless you!!

We were taken into a little chamber, before moving into the actual hall that contains The Last Supper paining. Words fail me. It was incredible and incredibly moving.

I was shocked that the monks had a cut door under the painting and Jesus's feet can no longer be seen.




As I came out, I saw that it was still raining. I no longer trusted the iPhone map app. We had broken up and it was bad... iPhone you are not my BFF anymore!

Using the paper map, I went to the metro station and caught the metro to Via Montenapoleone. When I walked out of the metro station, the sun was peaking out.

Walking down Via Montenapoleone I saw all the big names in luxury fashion. Look but don't dream of stepping in looking like a poor tourist. I wish I could have had my pretty woman moment but I had no bundle of euro to flash around. So I turned around, walked to Corso Vittorio Emanuel II. Ahhhh here was Zara, Mango, H&M.... First shop I went into was Massimo Dutti. The sale assistant immediately told me that there was 30% off all summer stock. Right - the sales had started!

I bought a few things but to be quite honest I was tired and hungry. For some reason I had forgotten to eat lunch.

I thought I'll try the La Rinascente food court. Well, it was busy and expensive. But I was hungry, so had salad from one of the outlets.

More window shopping. Walking around the opera area. Contemplated seeing if I could tour the opera house but was really feeling exhausted.

Back to hotel for a rest and final packing.

I asked for a recommendation for dinner from hotel concierge and he told me about a nice little restaurant around the corner. I had a wonderful dinner at Hostaria Borromei. I had the pumpkin ravioli and warm chocolate cake. The waiter recommended a delicious wine. I totally recommend this place. The atmosphere was lovely and the service was outstanding. The food delicious.

I retuned back to the hotel a happy, well fed little camper...

1 July Day trip to Switzerland on the Bernina Express

I had booked an organised tour called Swiss Alps Bernina Express Rail Tour from Milan on Viator. Started very early in the morning by walking to Zani Viaggi office. Met up with the tour leader and group at 7am. We all got on the tour bus to Tirano. The scenery along the way was beautiful. We went around Lake Como via Lecco to Tirano.

First stop was Santuario Madonna di Tirano, a beautiful church.






After visiting the church, we got back on the bus to the Tirano train station. The group decided to go to a restaurant for lunch. I bought some bread and cheese from the supermarket and had this as I walked around the town. Not much to see here. There are 2 train stations. The Italian station and the Swiss station across the square from each other. A few cafés and restaurants around the square. Saw the Bernina express pull in and saw loads of tourists transferring between stations.






Had a coffee at one of the nicer cafés near train station before meeting the group. We got on the Bernina express at 12:40pm. The trip was around 2 1/2 hours to St Moritz and the scenery.... Oh la la.... Words can't describe what my eyes saw. Sitting in the last car on the train we could see the whole train every time there was a curve.













 

  
St Moritz was overcast and a bit drizzly. I had my order from home to buy Swiss chocolates. I went to the TI and they told the nearest Coop supermarket was 2 mins away. Sadly the selection of chocolates was limited. St Moritz is obviously a town that caters to a certain type of clientele. The Dior and Prada crowd. While it would have been fun doing a bit of window shopping, it was freezing cold and drizzling. I got myself a hot chocolate and took 10.

Then walked towards the river for some photos before finding the tour group in the train station parking lot.




 

 
On the bus we went on a wild spin around some off the most nail biting hair pin bends. This was the Maloja Pass - worse than Amalfi! But a lot more orderly J must be the Swiss influence....

We had a 45 min stop for dinner at an auto-grill which served surprisingly decent cut pizza slices. Or maybe it was the fresh mountain air making me hungry...

In any case we made to Milan by 8:30 as promised.

I went to the hotel to freshen up and then went back out to hunt down Grom gelato. Found it on Via Santa Margherita. I followed the sound of rock music coming from Piazza Del Duomo which turned out to be an MTV concert! The performers were a very popular Italian rock band. I stood around listening for a while and bopping along with the crowd before heading back to the hotel. The best thing about travelling is finding these fun unexpected surprises along the way.





30 June Day trip to Lake Como


I had initially planned to stay a night in Como to explore the area around Lake Como but decided not move hotels and to stay in Milan. I actually didn’t want to pack and unpack again. So it was a day trip to Lake Como instead. Good decision. I had the Lake Como chapter from Rick Steves’ guide book and used it to make my around Lake Como.

I took the 9:20am Trenord train to Varenna from Milano Centrale. The train station was really crazy busy but the train was empty. In one hour I was in Varenna.

Varenna is an adorable town and a photographer’s dream. I followed the guide book instructions and walked from the train station to the ferry dock area. I found the tourist info office first and they gave me a ferry table. The helpful lady in the ferry ticket office advised me to buy individual tickets rather than a pass.


 
With my onward journey organised I took the Lover’s Walk around the lake front heading towards town. There were some nice stores selling art work along the way. I had a quick coffee at a café (needed an extra boost this morning). I didn’t walk all the way to the castle or Villa Monastero but just to the main piazza with its 4 churches!








I took a table at the Nilus Bar and enjoyed an orange juice on the lake front before catching a quick ferry ride to Bellagio.
 
By this stage I was ready for lunch. I took a recommendation from Rick Steves and went to Trattoria San Giacomo. One of their specials of the day was vegetarian lasagne! My favourite! The food was good and the service was fantastic. After lunch I walked around the lanes of Bellagio which are full of cute little stores selling jewellery, ceramics and silk scarves. I ended up buying a statement ring and bracelet from one of the jewellery stores in town. I found Gelataria Del Borgo to get my gelato fix and then walked to the view point Punto Spartivento for some photos.










I looked up the timetable and saw that I could make the ferry to Villa Carlotta. So glad I went. The gardens were stunning and the villa itself was beautiful. It was starting to warm up and I loved finding a man made rainforest mist in the garden. It was like being in a different world. Very Avatar.











I walked to Tremezzo and saw the legendary Grand Hotel with its floating pool.

From Tremezzo I caught the ferry to Como which took about 2 hours. Coming in to Como was fantastic. Got the best views of the lake and Como.





The ferry docked directly in front of Burate furnicular. So why not... Took the furnicular up the mountain with fab views on the way. Had a little walk around the town which was closed.

Went to the view point near the funicular to take some photos and then caught the furnicular back down. I did not have the energy to go up to the lighthouse J








I walked around the lake front following the signs to the train station Lago di Como. I soon as I go to the train station I saw a train standing on the platform. The departure board said it would leave in 10 mins. Ran to the station ticket office to buy tickets. Used the machine with the help of some other tourists to buy ticket. Made it!! The train took me to Cardona station. From there I easily caught the metro to Duomo.

I was too tired to look for a nicer place for dinner and read in the RS guidebook that there was a self service cafeteria called Ciao in the Piazza del Duomo. Frankly the food was rubbish. I would have been better off going to McDonald’s next door.

Reflections on Lake Como:- I loved this day trip and am so glad I went! I had one of the best weather days with a clear blue sky. All the tips and information from the TA and Fodors forum came in very handy. In comparison to the organised day trips to Tuscany, I found that I had a lot more flexibility and freedom to do as I pleased. While I knew what I wanted to do I didn’t set any time limits on myself and took things as they came. This meant that I did not get to explore Como the town itself. But that’s ok – that ones for next time J