Friday, June 5, 2009

Lago Como

i had 2 last days in Milano and since the first week i've seen almost all in Milano that i've wanted to see, i decided to do a day-trip somewhere just because i had extra 'days' left on my EuRail pass.

after stopping over at Parma and smelling the fresh 'farm' smell, i was ok without having to visit there. Torino was another possibility, but in the end i chose Lake Como because i loved my visit with Nat at Lago Maggiore, love all the nature and water and canels from Amsterdam, so I wanted a scenic quiet day at the lake...

i was so tired i got up quite late, so had lunch in Milan (10 euros fixed price no service charge)

risotto with shrimp and asparagus - i need to learn this risotto technique, the risotto is creamy without adding just cream in it, full of flavor and perfectly al dente.

Secondi was boccocino al balsamico with peppered spinach on the side - this was fabulous - the balsamic add just a sliver of aciditiy to balance out the meat, making this dish not just hefty and heavy, but very perfectly balanced.

I love GROM, so in case i don't get to have many more, i tried to Sicilian Granita there, coffee flavor

the coffee was intense and a bit dark for my taste but i ate it all. i loved the lemon granita, the flavor was intense and tart and sweet and just sooo refreshing.

then i hopped on a train to Como... not knowing the area, i bought a map for Como at the train station - it was 7.50 euros! for a mere paper map! but of course it would cost that much AT the station. In any case, i figured i was walking around Como and the only thing i need in any new city is a map and a bottle of water.

*in fact by this time i do enjoy the challenge of getting to know a new city given a city map and trying to find my way around - it's urban orienteering!*

First things first, i walked to the edge of the lake that overlooks Lake Como... there were grass areas where people were suntanning, and park bench seats as well as the ledge. Some random guy was actually swimming in the water... and a group of firemen were congregating and socializing down the path from me. I sat on the ledge and watched and just felt the feeling of the breeze, the water, hearing the sounds of the lake, splashes of the waves as it crashed to the shore..... even though i was on the edge of the lake, the breeze was comfortably warm.

of course by this part of my trip i've begun to 'master' self portraits with my camera (by butchering the picture, where most of it is of me and a sliver of it is of the beautiful background i was trying to make sure i got into the picture)

i wandered towards the 'downtown' or shopping area of Como, there were some tourists there but nothing like in Rome. a drop or two of rain hung in the air and threaten to become a rain storm - great, just my luck, since i stubbornly refused to carry the umbrella i broke down and had to buy in Milan during a rainstorm.

as i was weaving through the streets (Armani stores and such), out of the corner of my eyes, i saw and heard this african walking street vendor shout at me.
"filipina!! filipina!! bella bella filipina!" and he actually pointed at me. He was loud too, and both embarassed and flustered, I tried to continue walking the other direction. I have no idea what he was trying to sell but he followed me and came up close to me when i stopped at a display window (where there were a handful of other people). He continued to shout "bella filipina!" at me, so i picked up my pace and walked down a busier street quickly. I continued until i saw a shoe store with a LOT of women oooh-ing and aaah-ing in the window and hid myself among them. I saw the guy continue to walk down the street another 5-6 stores, then i walked quickly backwards and ducked into a store on a side street to avoid him.

knowing it's one of my last days in italy, i hopped into a Gelateria to have more gelato. (yes, more!)
the flavor just chose me when i saw the Smurf (Puffo) flavor, i had to try it

no, it didn't taste mushroomy, or even grassy. i think it tasted just sugary. maybe puffo was marshmallow flavor - but it was smurf blue!

i wandered around Como area, not much to do. on my walk back towards the train station, this guy (early 50s) was walking his dog, and i smiled at him and his dog as he mentioned something in italian... pretty soon, we were having a conversation in italian (me: bene, si... si... ) until at a certain point i had no idea what he was saying, then i started in my english, and combined with my french words (he asked me what i do at work in italian, i replied in edited-french 'informatique?' and he would say it in italian 'informatica! ah!')
so that was an interesting conversation...

Como was beautiful, don't get me wrong - hey it's good enough for Sir George Cloney (who, by the way, in unabashedly unashamed and starring into many Nespresso commercials on tv). Perhaps because i saw Lago Maggiore first, and perhaps because of Nat, i saw it from a non-tourist point of view, but my favorite is still Lago Maggiore and the Lugano area....

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