I knew as soon as I arrived in the Varenna train station, and caught a ferry across the stunning blue lake water to a sleepy village called Mennagio, that I would likely end up staying longer than my two planned nights.
Super friendly staff, a warm welcome from the other backpackers, and a delicious Italian vegetarian lasagna meal with rather cheap alcohol confirmed my decision. I went to sleep that night with a pleasant wine-induced buzz ready for what the next day would bring.
With a group of other women, I decided to go for a hike. There was a really nice uphill walk nearby that the hostel staff highly recommended. Usually for this hike you ride a bus to a mountain village called Breglia about 7km away, then do the hike up to 1400m altitude. However it was a Sunday, so there was no bus service running. Feeling pretty cocky, we decided that it would be a piece of cake to walk to Breglia. Then do the actual hike. And walk back again.
Still feeling quite happy at the start of the hike. Photo credit to Kristen Hyder
The never-ending uphill.. Photo taken by Kristen Hyder
Looking up to our end-point
Made it to the top! Photo taken by Kristen Hyder
Contemplating staying up at the top forever, just to avoid the hike back
In total it took us ten hours and 22km start to end. Whoops. We each inhaled a pizza upon returning to Mannagio, moaned about our blisters and sore legs before collapsing into bed with stunned tiredness.
The next day was of course a rest day after all that hiking. I still ended up being busy with catching the ferries across to lake with a neat Aussie chick to see the small villages of Bilagio and Varenna. My calves didn’t enjoy walking, or any movement at all actually, but I wanted to maximise my time in Lake Como since I had indeed extended my stay by a night. Looking back now, I could have happily stayed even longer. But I did spend some time on a private beach right in front of the hostel in the hot sun before I caught my first ferry.
Inside a Varenna garden, pretty daises
My final night at the hostel ended with some free lemon-chello shots, too much wine, and an awesomely crazy kiwi chick at my hostel going for a skinny-dip in the freezing cold lake. And nope I am not talking about myself in the third person although I am indeed pretty awesome. I hadn’t had anywhere near enough alcohol to join her. Earlier that day, I struggled to go deeper than my ankles with the water temperature being so numbingly cold. It was a fantastic ending to my last night in Como. The afore-named kiwi chick was even nuts enough to jump in the water twice before running back to a hot shower in the hostel.
I also did have more photos that included shots of the actual villages, but was dumb enough to accidentally delete a whole bunch of them! It was lucky I had already picked out my most favourite photos (all the ones above) and saved them somewhere else. Thanks to Kristen Hyder for lending me some of her photos :)
Where I stayed: Ostello Youth Hostel La Primula
Price: €20 in an 6 bed dorm
Overall: Great hostel! Definitely one of the best stays out of my whole trip with a great atmosphere for making fast friends and lots of laughter. Great location with stunning views over the lake and right above the ferry port. It has it’s own wee private ‘beach’ right in front. Feeling convinced yet?