Today was a transition day. I usually don't like them because I am always happy where we are for the moment and of all cities, Paris is difficult to leave. Today was different, however. We were off to the Lake District of Italy and I am very excited.
In Paris, thousands of sleek black taxis fill the busy streets. Yesterday we flagged one near a museum and discovered the driver was a very pleasant woman. This morning our hotel called a taxi to take us to the airport. When it pulled in, who should step out? The exact same woman from yesterday! She recognized us immediately, greeted us warmly and we all shared a good laugh.
Charles de Gaule Airport is enormous, It's so big that one time when we flew in here on a short haul flight on Brittany Air the plane taxied for 15 minutes across the airport, only to stop near a terminal. Today on easyJet we are amazed the plane has its own jetway. Our one hour flight had striking views of rugged snow covered mountain peaks with hidden lakes in the valleys.
Leaving the departures terminal was amusing. An extended family was greeting a large group of relatives by leaping into their arms with hugs all around, There was so much hugging and shouts of "Welcome to Italy!" in Italian that no one could get by and soon a small crowd was waiting, "Oh sorry!" they said sheepishly when they saw what had happened, but they were clearly elated to have this reunion.
We thought we would need to take a 40 minute bus ride at $10 each to Milan Centrale to transfer to a train to Stresa on Lake Maggiore which would be the cost of another ticket, but a kind attendant at the airport pointed out that going to Milan is going in the wrong direction. He suggested a much faster route going to the town of Gallarate and then hop a train to Stresa. Total cost - $7 each.
Stresa on Lake Maggiorie is so beautiful. Our room on the fourth floor overlooks the lake which is surrounded by mountains with tiny villages. We ate dinner tonight in the hotel on their outside terrace. There were several tour groups here who were honored with a flaming baked Alaska parade. Speeches were given and the chef appeared in his tall white hat to a round of applause. In the middle of our meal, a man wearing a red robe appeared peering over the glass wall by our table and said, "Hello, would you like to see my shop?" Without waiting for an answer, he opened a small suitcase chock full of costume jewelry, We politely declined and he smiled and went on his way.
After dinner we visited a craft show down by the water running until 11:00 pm. They were selling everything from jewelry to wooden pencil holders, Tomorrow we will an island with gardens on the lake.