Switzerland for a Day


On a recent trip to Lake Como, I was bored.

It was raining. It had rained for two days, and I had brought a swimsuit for no reason. My shoes were waterlogged from attempting to tour villas and walk through gardens. After visiting every indoor attraction around Lake Como (short of breaking into George Clooney’s villa), I was exasperated. Where was the sun? Where was my suntan?

At my exorbitantly priced bed and breakfast, I asked the owner, yet again, “What can I do today?” I think he had grown tired of me, too. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Lake Como in an unexpected monsoon season, after all, and he’d given me every pamphlet on his desk. So, he suggested I drive to Switzerland. You know, no big deal – just drive to another country for the day.

And so I did. A forty-minute jaunt on a road took me straight from Sala Comacina on Lake Como to Lugano in Switzerland. I was there inside an hour! And it was … exactly the same. Except that some people spoke German along with Italian and English. Lake Lugano was similar to Lake Como – similar architecture, and the food was … exactly the same. The only thing that was different was the price of everything, because Swiss Francs are stronger than Euros and dollars.

mytravels-2But it was a different country, on a whim, in the middle of the day, and surely that was something. And it was drizzling instead of outright raining, though it was still cold. Rather thrilling to think that in less than an hour, I had traveled to another country, while the people around me had only walked from their offices to have lunch. I stopped to eat as well, hiking up to the top of a curving cobblestoned street, looking for a pasta place a friend had recommended. As the rain cleared, I ate outside and listened to a Russian man tell an Austrian woman stories about the Soviet occupation of Hungary in the early ‘90s. English was their shared language.

Afterward, I climbed higher, past a church that looked as though its only function was as a clock tower. Curving around the left, Lake Lugano sat below me, and all of the little houses and buildings were thrown around like confetti on the lush green of the landscape.

And that was it. It was time to drive back to Italy; but of course, that couldn’t be as easy as my trip out of Italy. I lost GPS when my Internet quit working, and I was stuck in my tiny car going the wrong way down miniscule streets that weren’t labeled at all. It should have been expected that I would drive around hairpin turns on the sides of mountains with no guardrails to keep me from tumbling down the Alps onto someone’s goat farm.

But, in the end, I made it back: a world traveler in a day. The rain had let up on Lake Como, and the sun peeked out. Instead of leaving me bored, the drive had strung me out a bit, and I craved a little relaxation – something for which Lake Como is perfect. I grabbed a bottle of Barolo purchased in the last city I’d visited, took it out to the balcony (which was suddenly worth the extra Euros), and pulled the cork.

All at once, being bored on Lake Como was exactly what I wanted to be.


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