There’s only 1 Lake Como. Plus Zeppelins, plus F-18’s! | Australian Frequent Flyer
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There’s only 1 Lake Como. Plus Zeppelins, plus F-18’s!

offshore171

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There’s many amazing lake destinations in Europe. Lake Bled, Lugano, Maggiore and the list goes on.

But one place has that extra geographical drama, natural ampItheatre, and sense of place - Lake Como.

The plan for this trip is as follows:

  • SYD - MXP on EK
  • A week at Lake Como, based out of Bellagio
  • Day trip to Milan
  • Train to Switzerland
  • 3 Days in Grindelwald
  • Train and ferry to Friedrichshafen (Germany)
  • Zeppelin flight (conditions permitting)
  • Couple of days in Zurich
  • ZRH - SYD on EK
The Zeppelin flight was booked months ago, but is not guaranteed. They only operate in a certain weather envelope - basically good VFR visibility combined with light winds.

If they can’t fly on the day, they will try to reschedule to another day. We allowed ourselves 3 days in Friedrichshafen as contingency.

Nevertheless, I kept a close eye on the forecasts.

Also unplanned bonus, F18’s in Switzerland... More on that later.
 
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offshore171

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Family trip with 4 of us travelling. A quick 2.5 week trip flying out 1 October 2019.

Decided to use the QF lounge in rather than EK. Started with a good lunch before the long uneventful flight to DXB.

Outward sectors were 777 rather than A380, and we got a dreaded remote stand in Dubai, which involved buses to the terminal.

Arrived in MXP to a virtually empty airport and were through formalities in minutes.

Bags were first off the plane.

Made our way to Como city at the base of the lake then boarded the ferry for the 2 hour cruise to Bellagio In the central lake area.


Arriving into Bellagio
109C4A89-FA96-4E3F-B09D-8B91155E02F5.jpeg
 
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offshore171

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25F85A10-22C5-47A2-A4F3-2C58DC7A14D8.jpeg

2 minute walk from the dock to the hotel and this greets us...


The Hotel is the well known Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. It’s got quite a history and notable guests include Winston Churchill and JFK.


Aside from hotel rooms, they also offer apartments on the grounds and these are about 1/4 the price, yet still grant you access to all the facilities such as pools and concierge services. We took a 2 bedroom apartment.

This would be our home for the next week.
3A270C31-96E3-427B-BDF5-229FE4777B3F.jpeg
 

offshore171

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With a week to explore the various villages of the lake, we bought the 6 day unlimited ferry passes, so we were able to get around easy.

Early October weather was nothing short of spectacular, every day.

Despite being a couple of months after the high season madness of August, there were still high tourist numbers all over the lake area.

Huge numbers of Americans, and also a large contingent from Germany. There was a 4 day long weekend in Germany during this time, and it seems like many travelled south to Lake Como.

Why wouldn’t you if it’s only a few hours away?

Had a stop off at Menaggio and the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, with its floating pool.

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offshore171

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Still over a week until the Zeppelin flight, but the forecast was for rain the whole time. Tense.
 
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VPS

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beautiful part of the world - following with interest so I can reminisce
 

offshore171

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Next was a visit to the island in the lake, Isola Comacina, on which sits a famous restaurant that has served the exact same set menu for 70 years.

The menu is rustic food done really well.


The island itself has a history going back to Roman times, and at the end of lunch the hosts do a bit of a speech, and serve coffee with flaming brandy.

This was a glorious afternoon.


Arriving by ferry:

1865B535-9AD1-4D99-BCBF-7668F5B98611.jpeg

8D5B9DAE-8203-4408-BFB0-44E631EB41BB.jpeg

Villa Balbianello is on the way. Also known as Naboo from the Star Wars movies
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offshore171

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Next up was a plan to see the lake from the top of one of those mountains.

This involved a ferry to Argegno, itself a nice village on the lake. Here there is a cable car up to the village of Pigra, on the tops of those peaks. A number of walks are available out along the ridge tops to some astounding views. We walked to a spot called Belvedere, where I could have stood and taken in the view forever.

The elevation gain is around 650 metres, about the same vertical as Thredbo.

Trip up
4C5D54B9-A7B8-42D9-A345-E7332FF3A1EC.jpeg

The top
248EE3BE-1BA9-40D2-B4A7-F225BB4D94A6.jpeg

Hiking along the ridge
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Cossie

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A friend of ours had the good fortune to work for the Australian Institute of Sport at their European facility in Gavirate on Lago de Varese.
He is a mad keen runner and and an Italophile to boot, job made in heaven for him!
Another beautiful part of the world, really enjoying this tr, thanks.

ais.PNG
 

RB

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Next up was a plan to see the lake from the top of one of those mountains.

This involved a ferry to Argegno, itself a nice village on the lake. Here there is a cable car up to the village of Pigra, on the tops of those peaks. A number of walks are available out along the ridge tops to some astounding views. We walked to a spot called Belvedere, where I could have stood and taken in the view forever.

The elevation gain is around 650 metres, about the same vertical as Thredbo.

Trip up
View attachment 192903

The top
View attachment 192904

Hiking along the ridge
View attachment 192905
Great to see another forum member has made it to Pigra. looks like the weather was excellent
 

offshore171

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A friend of ours had the good fortune to work for the Australian Institute of Sport at their European facility in Gavirate on Lago de Varese.
He is a mad keen runner and and an Italophile to boot, job made in heaven
Sounds like it!

Which reminds me, we shared the cable car up to Pigra with a couple of keen mountain bikers. They were saying that theres a huge network of MTB and cross country running trails extending out of Pigra.
 

offshore171

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While at Lake Como, we made a day trip to Milano.

This involved one stop on the ferry to Varenna, then an easy 1 hour train ride to Milan Centrale.

That‘s where it got a bit messy. Milan was absolutely mobbed on the Sunday morning. From centrale, you need to get on the metro to get to the real town centre, and the ticketing system is a bit fiddly. Long queues at old fashioned ticket machines, and the trains were crowded.

I did see the Chief from Get Smart though:

1395851A-A165-46A6-8D6A-39BAB53E0016.jpeg
 

offshore171

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Your pictures are selling me on Lake Como in October. The weather (and scenery) does look superb. Is it reasonably quiet, crowd/tourist wise?
Lake Como was not too crowded. Certainly not the huge crowds you encounter in July-August.

We certainly got our share of moments of serenity.

Can’t say the same for Milan though. It was hectic, complete with the full suite of conmen, baby throwing pickpockets, the whole shebang.

I’ll take the serene option of Como. I was reading on TripAdvisorwhere someone planned a week in Milan and was asking if they should do a day trip to Lake Como. I’d recommend inverting it - week on the lake with a possible day trip to Milan.

Note Lake Como it is a seasonal destination, and most hotels in the mid lake villages close for the season at around the end of October and reopen at Easter.

So if you do go in October, target the first half of the month
 

Antoallison

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I’m in on this trip too. I will be happy to see all the sights without the veil of misty rain (in late May) that we experienced.

Thanks for the beautiful photos.
 

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