Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bicycles for Three

From Venice, we're off to Lugano, Switzerland. It's about a four hour ride on the bus. We discovered that though the view is unobstructed from the seats in the front of the bus, the ride makes it nearly impossible to write on my iPad. Why, you may ask is this a problem? Well, were it not for these looooooong bus rides, I'd never get caught up on the blog. We are non-stop the moment we set foot in a city and ready for the sack when we finally get home at night from our daily adventures.

As you may imagine, it's quite a production getting the luggage of 60 travelers offloaded each time we stop, so this patio in front of the hotel was a welcome feature. Our last three hotels were pretty minimal...the one in Venice actually brought to mind an old dorm room I once had. So it was with veritable delight that we learned that each room had a terrazzo. We loved our room and like our fellow travelers declared that we could stay here for a month and would definitely book the place if traveling on our own. An added feature with our room was the window to our neighbor's toilette. I think this could be quite a shocking discovery if one were not traveling en masse and didn't know practically everyone staying in the hotel. As it was, we knew the couple next door who took advantage of the feature to "borrow" our chairs for a get together they sponsored. 

The staff were extremely friendly.  Breakfast featured homemade applesauce, melone, petite omelettes, and Prosecco (which I understand is an Italian version of champagne). Around the corner, the small grocery store proprietress helped me with my Italian as I ordered some bread, cheese, olives, and red peppers stuffed with raw mozzarella cheese

We had a good amount of free time in Lugano, which was fabulous because the weather was beautiful. The great discovy we made was the bike sharing system they have (I've also seen this in D.C.). We purchased a day pass with one of our fellow travelers for 7 CHF good for 24 hours. Then we just rode around the lake and the city checking out the sites.

The next day, we decided we wanted to ride the funiculore before we had to leave for rehearsal and performance in Bellinzona, so we grabbed bikes form the very convenient sharing station about 100 ft. From the hotel and took off for the base station.

Unfortunately, we found out that we couldn't take our bikes on the car to the top, so we left them below. The ride provided great scenic photo opps. I spent several minutes up at the top snapping photos, meanwhile, Husband was off doing some exploring on his own. Apparently, he saw bikes in the WC ??!?? (which seems to double for storage at this facility), so he set off to find out about them. He was directed to speak to the tram driver whom I can only describe as absolutely adorable. He spoke no English and I couldn't figure out how to ask the questions I wanted in Italian. He did, however understand French, so I spoke in French while he answered in Italian and that's how we communicated.

Turns out using their bikes is free. We just had to fill out a short form with my name and place we were staying. Then we grabbed the bikes (which were not in the WC, but another storeroom), and off we went. The ride down the mountain is marked on the map. You can see it was can't see how steep it is..just trust me on that one. After dropping the mountain bikes at the tram base, we picked up our rental bikes and jetted back to the hotel so Husband could get ready for the performance that night.

Bellinzona is just a 45 minute bus ride from Lugano. The performance is in a beautiful church whose stunning marble work cannot possibly be captured in photos. We are allowed a few hours to explore the town and it's various castles before rehearsal starts. 

We walked up to Castelgrande, from which we could see all over the countryside. I kept wondering what it might be like to grow up visiting these kinds of historical marvels and what kinds of games the kids imagine while looking around. We adults imagined aiming our arrows at the enemy through the slots in the wall and appreciating the fine design of the defense stations.

It is a pretty hot day, but there is a nice breeze blowing and we are glad for that. There is a curious mixture of modernity with history as one comes across the outdoor cinema. Think about what great weather they must have here to be able to count on an outdoor screening of a film. 

After we partook in our daily ration of gelato, the singers rehearsed inside the church, then dressed for the performance. They sang a song on the steps of the church, which served to drum up a little business. The church acoustics allowed for enormous reverberation within. Hear the choir sing, I Wish You Love.

No comments: