28 May 2017

#BreadLife Backpacking: Como Away with Me (Day Trip to Lake Como)

A place worthy of a day trip once you get bored in Milan would be: Lake Como (or Lago di Como if you like it Italian) Lake Como is near to the border where Italy shares with Switzerland and Austria. The weather there gets significantly cooler as it is near to the Italian Alps. We went there towards the end of summer and though it was a fine sunny day, when it got windy, we still felt a little chilly. 

Want to find out how to get to Como and what to do there? Read on to find out more!


Getting to Como
We started our trip from Milan Central Station by taking a train to Varenna. There is no need to pre-book your tickets online for this day trip. We just went directly to the train station and got the tickets from the ticketing machine there. Both cash and cards are accepted by the machine.

To get to Varenna, search for "Varenna-Esino" station on the "Arriving Station" box. If you are departing from Milan Central Station, your "Departing Station" should be "Milano Centrale". The whole journey there should take about 1 hour and tickets costs €6 to €8 depending on which day you go there. We almost missed the train to Varenna and I freaked out, big time. Because the time you arrive in Como messes with the ferry timings which I'm gonna touch on, next.

Protip: Sit on the left side of the train if you want good views of the lake as the train pulls into Varenna.

just some views from the train window

Getting around the Lake
I believe Como is like a hot summer destination as there are just so many hotels around. And food in general is more expensive than back in the cities. I can imagine people like the Kardashians coming here to chill and look cute, idk.

Kim K aside, the main modes of transportation in Como is the ferry, motorships and sometimes the hydrofoil. There are even private boat cruises but since we are on #BreadLife, ain't nobody haz money for boat cruises. So we ended up taking the ferry from Varenna to Bellagio for lunch, then Bellagio to Como for some afternoon explorations. P.S. Varenna, Bellagio and Como are all towns surrounding Lake Como.
You may find the ferry timings here. My advice is to plan your arrival and departure timings to and from Como according to the ferry timings. Ferries do not stop at Varenna all the time so if say, you miss the 1130 one, the next ferry to Bellagio would be at 1325. And then you will not be able to take the last connecting ferry from Bellagio to Como after. And tadah, stuck at Como for the night with Kim K and her big ass.

I kid. But yeah my experience with the European transport system has always been bumpy and it is really not fun missing any of your trains, buses as most of them I took are either intercity or inter-country so.... miss them and you may have to sleep on the streets! So be very, very punctual for your rides.

Here's a good website for the ferry timings. Click here to access it. I took the Colico to Como route.

all onboard the ferry, Bellagio bound.

It only takes 15 minutes from Varenna to Bellagio, and we had around an hour plus to play around with before we had to rush off to board our connecting ferry to Como. If Kim K was here I think she would hang around Bellagio. That place is pretty damn posh, and the prices are even more posh, with lots of frenchy frenchy, atas Italian named hotels and restaurants. Tourists here are mainly retirees dressed in a crisp blue buttoned down shirt and a cardigan draped over their shoulders, topped off with a pair of boat shoes.... You know what I mean. 

Cheapest thing we could find apart from bread (actually I really hate eating bread apart from having it for breakfast) would be pasta. If I remember correctly, this was €12.

We only had some handful of time left after lunch for a quick photo stop along the Bellagio waterfront before heading off on the ferry to Como.

Please Note: The cruise is not a straight service to Como from Bellagio. 

It stops at multiple points before reaching Como. I believe the journey took around more than an hour. It was REAAAAAALLY long, but the scenery was really great. However towards the end I got a little sick of seeing lakes and more lakes and houses by the lakes. Yup, you get what I mean.

We finally reached como after an eternity later and after Sheri finished her long food coma slumber. After walking around the waterfront of Como and locating the train station to take the train back to Milan, we noticed a funicular station from afar and decided to go on it! One-way costs €3 and a return ticket costs €5.50.

There is also a route to walk up but no way we were going to hike up because the sun was getting a bit glaring at 2-3 pm in Italy.

The funicular not only is for tourists, but services the residents living along the funicular line. There are stops along the way and residents do alight to get back home.

Upon reaching the top, there are multiple look-out points that you can go to. We picked a few to go, but eventually wound up at a restaurant to have some orange juice, use the washroom and hide from the sweltering afternoon heat that was getting a tad bit unbearable. 

Don't lose your funicular tickets if you bought a return one because you'll have to buy a new one if you lose it up the hill.

With that, this sums up my day at Como. We started our trip at around 10-ish, and left Como at around 5 and reached Milan at around 6, with some time to spare before I met Gen for dinner and gelatooooo (see my 24 hrs in Milan post if you are interested to know more). My next post would be on my time in Cornwall, UK, as most of the places I visited in Berlin were just me revisiting places I have already been 3420948324829 times in Berlin and I was just taking my friends who are new to that place around + we were in that city mainly for Lollapalooza. You know I'm not a fan of cliche touristy places so.... nehhhhh.

Till the next post!

24 May 2017

24 hrs in Milano

This is going to be a fairly short post as implied by the title, 24 hrs in Milan. There's nothing really much to do in this city, and we went out for a day trip to Lake Como on our second day in Milan. Absolutely no regrets in doing so. I felt like I just came to this city to 1. See the cathedral 2. See my friend who is on exchange here (Hi Gen if you're reading this!!!!)

Getting to Milan
Milan is serviced by 3 airports, train and bus. The nearest airport to the city would be Linate, and the further one would be Malpensa. We left Milan via Malpensa to Germany, it took us a train ride to get to that airport.

We got to Milan by train from La Spezia. The journey took us around 3 hours plus, and it was €19.80 each for the train ticket. 

Getting Around Milan
We got around Milan mostly on foot. But to and from between our hostel and the duomo, we chose to take a bus. There wasn't really a need for us to use the metro as we were staying relatively near to the city centre, but at the same time, by this part of the trip we were quite lazy to use our legs any more so... bus to the rescue!

It is funny how I don't recall buying any bus tickets in Milan at all but I'm pretty sure I did hmm.......... Anyway, a single trip costs €1.50 and a day pass costs €4.50. I probably bought a day pass or something when I was there. 

We stayed at the Ostello Bello at Milan. Free breakfast included, yay!!!!! This hostel also provided free dinner so we went back to jew on both days when we were in Milan hehehehehehehe. We made the most friends in this hostel as everyone in our room was so friendly, and there were like girls from all over the world! There was this super pretty model-looking German girl who seems to go clubbing every night when we were there. When we were guessing her age, we guessed from her looks that she would definitely be older than us but... turns out that she's only 18 or 19 years old.

Blasphemous. We now feel very old.

Places of Interest
1. Milan Duomo

Milan Duomo is the most intricately crafted cathedral I've ever seen in Italy (because there is still the Sagrada Familia in Spain, that wins any cathedral hands down) and I think its definitely worth it to come all the way to Milan to see it because there is just so many things you could do in the Duomo. We bought the Duomo Pass which costs €20 online, and it is good because we get to skip the LONG SCARY LINES by the side of the Duomo. But if you did more research I am sure you could get something cheaper, because there is apparently a concession for students under the age of 26. 

*********Advice: GET ALL YOUR TICKETS ONLINE to prevent disappointment.

i) Take a photo outside the Duomo
The duomo looks beautiful at any point in the day. The picture above was taken at sunset, and look how the evening sun casts such a beautiful pinkish-orange hue on the front of the Duomo! But do be careful as every square in Italy is a breeding ground for tourist scams. I've had people approach me with a shitty digital camera from 10 years back, to offer to take a picture for us using that camera. 

No thanks. 

ii) Explore the cathedral terrace (aka. the roof) of the Duomo

After all the climbing and cursing and swearing in Florence and Cinque Terre, we were kind of sick of climbing up lots of stairs and more stairs. The Milan Duomo gave us a short breather by installing lifts to bring us to the cathedral's terrace, yay.

When we were there, they seemed to be restoring part of the terrace so... the view right at the top was not that splendid with the scaffolding and all. But still,  it is a lovely place to spend at least 30 mins to 1 hour at! And at some points in the cathedral, you could look down to see the inside of the Duomo!

iii) Go inside the Duomo, and maybe see some crypts?
We went inside the Duomo in the morning before we departed for Berlin so it was a pretty rushed trip. One good thing about the Duomo pass is that it is valid for a week after you start using it so you could still visit the cathedral on many separate occasions if you really love the Duomo that much...

There's nothing much splendid inside hmm. Similar to the Florence's Duomo but without that stunning painting of the oculus. Pretty dark like a cathedral built in the Romanesque period, and most of the structures are seem to be made of granite. 

2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

We could not afford to buy anything here. End of story.

- extra -

After I spent the day at Como on the second day, I rushed back to meet my friend, Gen, at the Duomo, and he introduced me after dinner to this amazing gelato place with super long queues!!!! Its called Cioccolait Italiani and it is very VERY VERY VERY yummy. I think it would be the best gelato I've ever had in Italy if not for the hot weather that made my gelato melt before we even took this shot on the Go-Pro. 

Cioccolati Italiani  
Via S. Raffaele, 4, 20121 Milano, Italy
(basically if you are facing the Duomo, it is inside the cluster of shops on the left of the Duomo)
Hours: 8:30 AM to 12:00 AM

Smiling with my gelato dripping down my hands was not an easy job :-(

Anyways, sorry for this really shoddy post as I really did not do much in Milan, so I'll make up for it in the next post where I'll be talking about Como!


17 May 2017

#BreadLife Backpacking: Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, or the 5 Terre, is a coastal region made up of 5 beautiful towns on the rugged Italian Riviera. The towns overlook the seemingly endless Ligurian Sea.

I always like comparing the 5 Terre to 5 sisters tucked away from the eye of the mainstream crowd that spends their time in the bigger, and more glamorous cities of Italy like Rome, or Milan. Each town has her own special characteristic that resembles a woman of a certain character or personality that is just waiting to be discovered by the one who goes the distance to meet her and get to know her better.

Wanna know how to visit the 5 beautiful ladies of Cinque Terre?

1 May 2017

#BreadLife Backpacking: Florence

I think my first trip to Italy got totally ruined by the bad weather, so the second time in Florence definitely opened my eyes to see how beautiful the city can be under a sunny day.