A Day Trip to Switzerland
Today we did something out of the ordinary. We took a round trip excursion to the Swiss side of Lake Maggiorie to the town of Locarno.
Getting there was half the fun. We boarded a Swiss panoramic train that wound through the Italian countryside and up through the mountains for two hours. Looking down into the valleys we saw rushing rivers and at times, people rafting, Looking above were tiny villages, each with a stone church with a bell tower at the highest point, all with clock faces. Several of these villages were stops for alpine hiking trips or mountain biking trips.
Stepping off the boat I spotted some para gliders floating high above the mountains. "They must have an amazing view," I thought to myself, but I think my fear of heights would prevent me from trying it. We ate lunch at a cafe on the waterfront. Food is expensive here. A slice of pizza costs over $10. My meal was interesting. It was a grilled cheese sandwich made with pancakes. We had a nice chat with our waiter. He grew up in Macedonia when it was under Soviet rule. "Your menu is in English with an Italian accent," he joked. He must have thought we were friendly. When he brought the bill he announced, "Here in Locarno it's a tradition that the lady pays!"
My sister Jane and my friend Susan Erickson and I all love Swatch watches. Every year I buy one I think Susan will like. It's a tradition. I sent Jane a link to the European Swatch collection and she said her favorite was a black one with a cow etched on it and a real cowbell attached. I told her I would try my best, but it was unlikely that in Paris they would sell that one because it seemed unique to the Alps. Walking past a department store today I spotted a collection of Swatch watches and lost no time heading right inside and there on the wall was the exact watch she chose. I couldn't believe it. It was my best purchase of the day.
Since we only had a few hours in Locarno, we were only able to see a few sights. We visited a church which dates back to the 13th century and a museum of archaeology. I think we were the only ones in there. We were given a map, but ended up using our imagination in some of the rooms because nothing of course was in English. In the bell tower people had signed their names over the past 100 years. This week on CNN International they have an ad for the show where the announcer says, "Where some people see graffiti, I see art." While there weren't any drawings, looking at all the names in different handwriting was like looking at an art form.
Our trip back to Stresa was a two hour boat ride across the lake which stopped at many small towns to let people on and off. The sun was out the entire way and everywhere people were out in small sailboats.
Late tonight we joined some of the others and strolled the lakeside promenade. There are a lot of old world grand hotels and we toured the lobbies. Many were elegant with crystal chandeliers and antique furniture. One would think it would cost a fortune to stay at these places, but many are under $150 a night including breakfast. There is such a pleasant holiday vibe here. I think we have found a new favorite place.