Monday, April 20, 2015

A Weekend at Lake Garda

Getting up at 4.30am to get my train wasn't going to phase me after having been awake for a consecutive 36 hours the other week!

I was off to Peschiera del Garda, on the southern shore of - yup, you guessed it - Lake Garda. And for some reason I'd decided that getting the 7.05am Frecciabianca there was a good idea. As I like to ensure that I have enough time to get ready and get to the train station with public transport, it meant getting a night bus (!) and then the first metro of the day to reach Milano Centrale.

I had another seat in first class - that early in the morning it was the same price as the cheapest second class ticket - and that meant another second breakfast included in the price of the ticket (I passed on the newspaper). This time it was a Kinder Delice and coffee.

It was a shorter walk from the train station into the town than I remembered. After admiring the (slightly foggy) view I headed into the town centre - my stomach was telling me it was lunchtime! I had a cappuccino and croissant at Bar Dante, both very tasty even though the cappuccino was a bit pricey at 2.80 euro. Still, I had a comfy outside seat, so it was worth it.

I remembered that there was a long path around the lake, which was even longer than I thought it was. I wanted to make the most of the weather as thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. So I went all the way down Lungolago Mazzini and carried on walking to what's called Passeggiata a lago - 'walk at the lake'. You can go right up to the water and walk on the pebble beaches. It's wonderfully relaxing, a whole world away from Milan.

For lunch I went back to L'Osteria, where I went when I first visited Peschiera a few years ago. Tried and tested seemed like a good idea after having been awake since the middle of the night! I had a pizza with buffalo mozzarella and a beer - as I technically was on holiday! The waiters were all very friendly, though being called signora in continuation was a little bit strange!

After lunch I could finally check in at my hotel. I was staying at Hotel San Marco on Lungolago Mazzini, which I remembered from before as it's on the lakeside and has a swimming pool out front. The outside looks very modern, but the rooms are a bit old school. Perfectly clean and comfortable (the shower was amazing) but a bit disjointed from a design point of view. By then I was just about ready to fall over, but unfortunately after waking up from my nap I found that the promised storm had finally arrived...

Sunday morning I was very excited about breakfast, especially after having read reviews where people had mentioned the variety of cake on offer! And it was even better than I expected, I'd never seen such a vast choice of food at a hotel breakfast! Several different kinds of cake, croissants, mini doughnuts, lots of fruit, meat, cheese, eggs... I would have loved to have eaten so much more than I managed!

It was sunny, still quite windy after the storm, but it was great that the fog had been flown away. With the radio in my ears I headed back down to the passeggiata to admire the clearer views across the lake.

Nearly every single shop, restaurant, and bar in the town centre was open on Sunday, so I could have a mooch around as I hadn't had much of a look the day before. Obviously mid-morning I had to have another coffee, and this time I stopped at Caffè Carducci. It has a view of the port, and as a bonus my cappuccino was a bit cheaper at 2.50 euro.

I had lunch early by Italian standards, but I'd had breakfast at 7.30 - no joke! - so I was allowed! I'd already planned where before I'd even left Milan, so I just had to hope it was open - and it was! Toasteria Italiana is on Vicolo Otello and does some pretty special toasted sandwiches (toast in Italian isn't toast, but a toasted sandwich). I went for one with prosciutto cotto, grana cheese, smoked scamorza, and mushrooms. Delicious! They've also got a good choice of freshly-squeezed juices, and I went for one with orange, carrot and lemon. When my juice was bought out it was accompanied by a bowl of crisps - my weakness! It was a welcome change from all the pasta and pizza on offer in other places in the town.

Peschiera has a do-it-yourself gelateria! Latteria Ugolini has a shop on Via Fontana (under the archway) and after my experience with Mu in Trieste I couldn't miss out! I may have gone a little bit silly (5.24 euro eek!) but caramel sauce! The white chocolate gelato was very nice too!

I spent the rest of the day relaxing, listening to the radio, and reading. There was quite a crowd in the town, including lots of cyclists and bikers. Sitting on a bench on the lungolago was exactly what I needed, a chance to escape from the big city and to recharge my batteries.

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