Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lugano, Switzerland

June 1
Bonjourno from Lugano! Or hello. Or guten Tag. I can't figure out what language to speak here. On the positive side, that means I can communicate and read all the tourism signs because they are in 4 languages. I've had several successful German conversations here, but most of the time its a combination of Italian words, German, and English, since Italian is still the most commonly used language in this region.
Lugano is a charming little vacation town in a valley on the lake. My hostel is surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants. Its very nice, there are several families staying here (one of the younger boys, maybe 3 or 4 came up to me several times yesterday and showed me his drawings. He didnt seem to mind too much that I had no idea what he was saying), and also a very large group of loud middle school girls. I'm glad I'm not 13 anymore. The weather however, has not been as nice, its a little cold and wet. Yesterday I explored some shops in Lugano and attemped to visit Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (which is mostly closed for renovations, but they put in windows so you can still see it as they work).
 I then decided to walk to Gandria, because I had read about it and the quaint trails along the coast through the city with no cars sounded nice. (Most people go by boat, few walk from Lugano). The walk through Castagnola was very pretty, as was the Sentiero di Gandria. Part of the trail is along the coastline (cliff), then you end up in parts of town with gorgeous houses, then you go through olive groves, then tunnels  (repeat all of those several times) and eventually many stories of stairs + hills to get back to the road at the top of the cliff.
I thought I was near the end of the trail when it started raining harder. I was only about halfway. It was pouring before I reached the road to catch a bus back to Lugano. After some food and a hot shower, I felt much better, and the hike was certainly worth it.

It was raining again this morning. I decided against the hike up the mountain, and so what does one do on a rainy day in Switzerland? Go to the chocolate factory of course! Lots of samples :)  Did you know the fruit on a cacao tree grows on the trunk, not the branches? At each stop in the factory, a sign explained what was happening at each station, and another listed all the technical details of the machine (make, model, year, capacity, how much power it draws). Just in case you're in the market to buy your own chocolate machinery.

It cleared up quite a bit in the afternoon, so I took the Funicolore to the top of Monte San Salvador. The view from the roof of the church was awesome, I could see all of Ticino.
 I found Lugano quite charming, even in the rain.
Now off to catch a flight to Greece!

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