Friday, January 30, 2009

The Twelve Days of Vacanze

Buon anno! Trofie Wife must apologize for taking such a long time to return to cyber world after what seemed like an endless holiday vacation. (Apologies are rescinded from those of you whose Gregorian and Lunar New Year’s resolutions included catching up on our blog; you’re welcome.) It is Trofie Wife’s hope over the next several (ok, many) entries to illustrate our wanderings from the dusk of 2008 to the dawn of 2009—a journey that wound through newly-discovered (well, just by us) parts of Italy as well as well-warn chocolate paths and fresh (yet extended) design paths in Switzerland and (for a couple of hours) Germany. But Trofie Wife will heed the advice of dear Alpine Governess Maria and seek “a very good place to start”— the beginning, of course. That takes us back to where we last left off—Christmas Day— just several hours after we bid arrivederci to those lovely nativity donkeys astride the duomo. …

Now apparently much of the world’s population can’t wait to leap from their beds on Christmas morning and rush to the foot of their trees to inspect Santa’s offerings. Trofie Wife, however, took “bah humbug” to a new level this December 25th, practically pitching a fit at the thought of emerging from bed and flinging herself on an early morning train to Milan (not that the company—il cugino en route to the airport along with dear Martello—wouldn’t have been delightful). See, the hotel at our first vacation stop—the much-lauded Lakes region—had been kind enough to inform us that they would be closed until 5 p.m., so it didn’t make sense to Trofie Wife to arrive in a new Italian city on Christmas Day prior to that time, laden with luggage filled with nearly two weeks of garments and reading material (as well as gifts for Swiss munchkins). We would likely encounter increasingly growling stomachs as everything, I argued, would be closed SINCE WE WERE IN ITALY— not quaint New York of ye Chinese restaurants and movie theaters—ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  My whining eventually wore down a more-chipper-than-usual-on-a-day-when-he-could-have-very-easily-slept-in Martello, so he accompanied il cugino to the train station, then returned to the apartment for a warm, mid-winter morning nap and some last-minute trip planning.

If you thought our nuptials lacked advance planning, our vacation proved an exercise in an even more aggressive form of vaguely outlined (on the back of a napkin) spontaneity. We knew that the centerpiece would be a visit to our family in Zurich, but other than that, it was a blank (well, except for the knowledge that it would include several design-related pilgrimages). Back in November, we had day dreamed about relaxing in the thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland, but all the Vals hotels were booked by the time we got around to booking/deciphering the German Web sites. So, in a pinch, Martello honed in on the lovely Lake Como, which was conveniently en route to Svizerra. Trofie Wife typed “Lake Como” and “hotel” into the search bar, and the first thing that popped up was a tour itinerary for a British group set to stay at a lakeside hotel. It appeared to be a classy gathering, and their presence hinted at the presence of our native tongue, so Trofie Wife jumped on it without wasting time researching other options.

In true form, we narrowly missed the first of our three trains (this was likely due to a certain wife’s insistence on validating the tickets) and spent the better part of the late (and increasingly chilly) afternoon awaiting the next train to Genoa. But we (and our bulky luggage) eventually made all the connections, landing in the Como station at around 8:30 p.m. Of course, the hotel ended up being nowhere near Como (the city) proper. Oops. We took a super long and super expensive taxi ride to the hotel. But thankfully, despite its faraway location in sleepy Mezzegra, it appeared lovely at first glance, and we were greeted heartily—they even kept the kitchen open so we could enjoy a proper Christmas dinner. The Brits were there as advertised— a loud group of mostly female retirees looking for a good time, which they incidentally found in the lounge, with the synthesizer and off-key singer of such classic Italian holiday tunes as “Dancing Queen” and “I Will Survive.” We dined on a combination of assorted holiday treats, perhaps the oddest being what appeared to be salmon gefilte fish with a cod sushi roll nestled inside it—the capon “kreplach” in chicken soup broth and turkey roll were tied for second in the weird department.  Pooped, yet hoping to discover the beautiful lake and surrounding towns on December 26th, Saint Stefano’s Day (or Boxing Day, to you Anglo Saxons), we ordered our panettone to go and called it a night. We would awaken the next morning to this lovely view. (Note: the adorable golden retriever who lives in that villa went back inside before I could grab my camera, but just imagine him there, faithfully awaiting the return of his master, a spandex-clad cyclist.)

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

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