Day 9 Venice, Italy to Lugano, Switzerland

11:08 AM AirplaneFoodCritic 0 Comments

Goodbye, Venice, we shall meet again!
Now I know, next time we come to this area, spend a few more days in Venice. I seriously could just hang out here. There are not that many places I feel that way about. The general vibe of the place is fantastic. The bright, fresh feeling I get from this city is invigorating and relaxing at the same time. Last time I was here I was 10 years old and I was just getting over a terrible, terrible cold or flu. I remember getting sick in Grindlewald, Switzerland. My parents were so mad at me and my brother. We had not experienced sleeping in down comforters and the beds we had in the tiny Alpine town had these crisp, white, fluffy duvets rolled up on the bed like a burrito. What we would do is stand out on our balcony in the evening and get really, really cold then dive into our puffy blankets. We did that over and over. My folks think that cold then hot is what got me sick. By the time we got to Lugano, Switzerland, I had come down with the worst cold of my life. And that is saying something since I have been pret-ty sick in my day. In fact, there is the possibility that I was bit by a tick here in Switzerland. I know that one of the first symptoms of Lyme is a bad fever. And my fever was bad. It was in the 80's so there was no such thing as a digital thermometer. My mom had brought along a regular mercury thermometer. My fever went up to the very end of the stick. I had at least 107F temperature. I was dizzy, out of it and hallucinating. My mom, dad and brother had to go visit our family in the nearby towns so they had no choice but to leave me in the hotel in Lugano. I was so crazy in the head with fever I really didn't understand what was going on around me. I remember three things from the few days we were there. I remember the maid coming in and seeing this super ill little girl and she got pissed. I would be upset too. You don't want to clean a room and catch some awful bug because of it. I tried to explain that the room next door was my parents' and they could stick me there while they cleaned my room and then I could come back when they were finished. All I managed to say was "Me madre et me padre et qui" and pointed to the next room over. I didn't speak much more of any language than that at age 10 so I was glad it made sense to them. I felt like I was floating into the next room because I could not feel my arms and legs. The other thing I remember is that my local family heard I was sick and they made me some soup. It was the best soup in the world. Ana, my aunt, makes the best food in the world so it isn't too surprising. She sent it back to the hotel in a thermos with my mom and dad after a day of visiting. Usually, when I visit my family in this region we have the freshest, most amazing, yummiest food imaginable. Ana makes these massive bowls of gnocchi. She makes one bowl of gnocchi, potato dumplings basically, with tomato sauce. The bowl is a foot and a half across. We eat as much as we possibly can because we know we won't be able to have anything like it anywhere else. Then, when we can't fit anything else in out tummies, Ana brings out the identical bowl of gnocchis, this time with Gorgonzola. Well, that is my favorite way to have gnocchi so I eat more. I can only eat so much so I have to stop and she looks at us all surprised and says "You no like?" Yes! Yes, we LOVE! It is just so so much!
The view from our room in Lugano.

I digress. The third thing I remember from being sick in Lugano is that in the hotel room, there was two beds, one for me, one for my brother. Then there was a small bathroom with a sink, tiny shower and toilet. We were on something like the third floor and there were floors above us. Every time someone flushed their toilet above us, the water would rush past our little bathroom. I could hear the water rushing every now and again. In my fevered madness, I was convinced it was the sound of my brain frying. I would hear the sizzling sound and then panic that I was dying. I was ten years old at the time, mind you so don't laugh! I would try to check the various parts of my brain by doing different tests. I mean, like I would be able to know what part of my brain was frying but....well anyways...someone would flush and I would start trying to do math problems. Some one else would wash their hands and I would try to remember my address. Oh, Airplane Food Critic, you are a silly one. Well, after a few days my fever broke. I soaked my tender limbs in warm water and it felt like glacial water. I was finally over the worst of the cold by the time we got to Venice. And you were wondering how this all related to Venice! Well, the point of this story is this: I was here last when I was getting over a cold and could not breathe. I had heard that Venice was smelly. I heard that it was smelly because back in the old days, residents used to dump their garbage and human waste right into the canal and water ways. I don't know if this is true, but my brother, who was 13 at the time, told me that I was lucky that I could not breathe because it is so stinky in this town. Now, I have to say also that we were just kids who hated most everything that was not super bland and plain, so he may have just been smelling the seawater. I don't know. What I DO know is that I am here now in Venice and it smells fresh and delightful. So don't believe everything you hear.

One negative thing about our stay in Venice is the mattresses. The Hubs woke up with a super sore back. I had to stretch his arms for him and rub out his back. I left him in the room to do some yoga and stretches while I got breakfast. The breakfast was the same as the day before with the tiny sandwiches and other crudites. We filled up as best we could, checked out, pet the big sleepy dog in the reception area (these hotel dogs make my whole day!) and went out in search of the elusive olive store that we couldn't find yesterday. It was right where we were looking yesterday but this time it was open! I had only a limited amount of Euros on my in cash because it was our last day in the EU. Switzerland uses Swiss Francs. I figured I would spend all that I had left in this store if I could. We got a huge bag of olives. There were about five huge bins of fresh olives in the window so I had the man at the counter give us a big scoop of each type of olive. There were green, dark green, black and dark black olives. Then I got some fresh slices of mortodello. The mortodello I chose was sitting along the wall behind the counter and had to be 10 inches in diameter! I got three slices and it was more than I could try to eat in one sitting. I also bought some stinky looking cheese called...oh I forget what it was called taglio or something like that. I could have stayed in that store all day. I love the smell of these kinds of stores. They smell like stinky cheeses and cured meats. But, alas, we had to get to our car. I went to pay and it turned out I did not have enough in euros! I was about 60 or 80 cents short. The man was so nice that he let me have it anyways. The Hubs said it was because I made him smile. I like to think it was because it showed how much I loved this little town.

We rolled our luggage to the Rialto Vaporetti and bought our 7.50 euro each tickets to our parking lot island. Once again, the ride was part of the fun. Nothing in Venice seems like commuting, it all feels like fun. We saw all the locals doing their daily activities: delivering mail, dirt, boxes, wine....they were going to work and moving about the city. I will seriously miss this place. And to think, I almost didn't want to come this far East because I thought it would be just too much driving. We did agree that next time we come, not only will we come in the cooler months...one might think late September is a cooler month but it is not!...we will take the train. I normally love driving but in Italy, not so much. Plus, we only are visiting the main cities in Italy so a train would suffice. The roads in Italy are a little confusing for me. Maybe it is because I speak so little Italian. Maybe it is because I am so unfamiliar with Italy all together. Maybe it is because of all the toll booths I have to stop and pay huge amounts of money at. Whatever it is, I think a train might be less stressful. Then, after my next trip leaves Italy, I can just rent a car again. We squeezed every last drop of enjoyment out of our taxi boat ride to the car then it was time to figure out how to pay for parking.

We walked around and around....those are five words I have used WAY too much this trip!!...We could not find anywhere to pay for the parking. I figured I was supposed to pay at some sort of machine with my ticket I got when I pulled into the lot. We found no such machine. I figured, maybe you were supposed to pay as you drove out so we got in the elevator in section A where our car was. That, of all weird places, was where the payment info was. And the info told us to go BACK down to the ground floor and walk to section C to pay. Thanks, Italy, for the super helpful placement of information. We went BACK down the elevator and walked toward the C section. But of course there is no direct way to get to that area so we rolled our little cases all over the place until finally we found where to pay. And back on the road we went! No worries...next stop...Switzerland!!
Lunch on the balcony. See how big that mortadello is?!

I had planned on hitting up some little towns on the way to our destination, Lugano, but it was getting a little late now that we took forever to pay for our parking ticket and to get out of the general Venice area. So we skipped Bellaggio and Lake Como. I am not too bummed because I was just crazy excited to be back in Lugano. The first time I was here I was 2 years old. I had come here several times since but then, after age 10 we stopped coming. I have such specific memories of this place. I remember sights, feelings, sounds and smells. I even remember tastes. I remember being at a family member's hotel and the smell of the stone hallway, the smell of the coffee and red wine from the tiny cafe below. I remember walking along the late and smelling the fresh alpine air while eating an ice cream. When we got to the city of Lugano I was just bursting. I was sighing and squealing. We both were relieved to be in Switzerland, too. Lugano is the main city in the Canton (cantons are like states) of Ticino. Ticino is the only Italian speaking canton in Switzerland. This is where half of my family is from. Many of my family members have since moved to other places in the country and the ones who remain are pretty old. I was not able to get in touch with the ones who remain here in town but just being here was heartwarming enough for me.

Our hotel, Hotel Victoria, is in the tiny town right next to Lugano called Paradiso. It is a little bit less expensive to stay in Paradiso than Lugano so we can afford to stay in a room right on Lake Lugano. Not only do we have a room with incredible views of the lake and of the city of Lugano, we are situated right in front of the famous fountain. We love our room and our hotel. I am trying to figure out how to get the comforter into my bag without anyone knowing and that is saying a lot since normally I think hotel comforters are the nastiest thing in the world. See, the comforter is usually some pretty color unlike the white sheets below. Therefore, they never bleach or clean the comforter so as soon as I get into a hotel I usually take the comforter off and sit on the blanket underneath. Not here though. It is a soft, fluffy, blue, pretty comforter. We got to our room, opened our French doors onto our balcony and had our meats, cheeses and olives at the little table over looking the fountain and the alpine lake of Lugano. What heaven!
Ok, so my phone does not take the best night photos but this is a look over at the city of Lugano, Switzerland. We are in heaven here!

After eating and a rest we walked the 15 minutes along the lake to the city of Lugano. All the feels came rushing to me. I was walking on air. The city isn't exactly as I remember because I remember being at people's homes with gardens, farms and trellises but it still in my family's Lugano and I felt at home. We walked along the lake, through town and into the park. We walked the length of the beautiful park stopping for rests on the red park benches or to take photos. We got to the end of the park where a little river met the lake and people were sunbathing on a little beach. We sat on a boardwalk and watched the local dogs play in the water and the kids play in a big park. We took a lot of photos. After a long time just hanging out we walked into the city. I had a list of things my family at home wanted me to get. I had to get stickers for my aunt, a spoon for my friend and a magnet for my brother. We walked and walked the streets but didn't come across any what I call junk shops...the shops with all the souvenirs. We only say fancy shops like Lanvin and Hermes. Next thing I knew we were back along the lake and I was no souvenirs the richer. Oh well, we were tired by this point and didn't want to back track so we just kept heading to the room. The sun was setting and we got lots of romantic shots and feels. At the room I sat on the balcony and had a grappa before we headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. We saw a menu in the elevator that had risotto and we both wanted to have some at some point during this trip. We meant to have some in Italy but being in the Italian part of Switzerland would do too. Most of the risotto we had seen previously had seafood in it or if it was vegetarian, it had mushrooms and we are not big mushroom fans. This place had at least three vegetarian risotto options, saffron, pesto and funghi (mushroom). There are no places to eat that are ON the lake here because that is all a walkway or park so the next best thing is right across the street. We had a perfect spot with a view of the fountain that shoots over 100 feet into the air and the park at the base of the fountain. Nighttime was falling quickly. We got seated right by the window so we had the best possible view. Right then, the fountain lit up. They have a way to light the entire fountain and the colors change from blue to red to green. Awesome.
The nighttime view from our room of the fountain and Mt Bre.

I had a craving that lingered from Venice and I just had to have wiener schnitzel AGAIN. We split a risotto and the Hubs got the biggest calzone I have ever seen! We had a cocktail to start. I had a Campari Soda and the Hubs got a Baileys. I got 50 cl of the local spritzy white that I love so much. Things are much, much, much  more expensive here. I am hoping it is just this town and the rest of our Switzerland adventure is a bit cheaper than this or else I will be going broke really quick!! Dinner cost an arm and a leg but BOY was it great! We came back up to the room and I finished the night off with a grappa from the bottle I bought in Venice. Yet another perfect, romantic, WONderful day! Thank you, Switzerland!
A terrible close up of the fountain as seen from our hotel balcony. It is 1000000x better in person as I am sure you can guess.

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