I woke up this morning, not having any way to tell time or figure out what time it was. It ended up being 7:30am, so wanting to get an earlier start, and knowing Austin wanted to do the same, I got ready for the day and headed down to breakfast. We stayed in gender separated dorms last night, so I waited around for Austin for breakfast… for about 45 minutes. Finally, I was going to peek in to see where the heck he was, and the nice Italian cook who was out smoking a cigarette in the yard offered to check in on him. Austin had overslept, then sat in his bed and stretched for 30 minutes before getting up. So, we got a little later start than anticipated.
|Funiculare to Brunate|
|Proof that I made it to the top of the mountain!|
Our first stop today was Villa Olmo on Lake Como. We walked around the lake and just admired how beautiful this area is. There is the lake and all of these tiny towns smattered around the lake and up the very steep sides. Austin called the mountains here “pre-Alps”, and we could see mountains off in the distance, but these mountains were gorgeous and very steep to climb up. Our first dabble into transportation today was taking the funiculare, or tram up the mountain, up to a little town above Como called Brunate. The very nice ladies at the hostel said it was definitely worth our time and effort to climb up further in this town to the top for a very nice view of the lake, the Alps behind them, and Switzerland. About half way up the mountain, I wished we had decided to vacation in Hawaii, Mexico, or somewhere else where Austin doesn’t feel like he has to climb to the top of whatever is the highest point around. Italians don’t really believe in switchbacks either, so it was very very steep the entire way. Austin started pushing me from behind very early on, and think this is the only reason I made it to the top. Also, we were carrying our 30-50 lb backpacks that entire way. I suggested we ditch our bags somewhere and pick them up on the way down, but Austin didn’t really like that idea, something about leaving behind everything we have didn’t appeal to him. We made it, and the view at the top was definitely worth it, so I was happy about that.
|Austin’s triumphal return to Lecco|
Almost immediately upon arriving in Lecco, we ran into the LDS missionaries at the train station. This was super exciting, because they better than anyone would know the state of the families that Austin worked with on his mission. We found out that since Austin left the area in May of 2008, Lecco was made into its own ward (it had been a branch) and that one of the families that he helped teach was still active, and the father who was not as receptive while he was there had also been baptized. Many of the members that Austin worked with were still around, so he got to hear little updates on their lives as well. We also stopped by Austin’s missionary apartment, the place where they would set up an informative signboard in a main part of downtown, and sample the gelato from the place where Austin would frequent on his mission. We again walked all along the lake, saw tons of swans, and walked through other parts of town as well. After awhile, we took a train from Lecco to Bergamo.
|Austin’s missionary apartment in Lecco. He reports
hitting his head several times on the tiny door frame
We are now in Bergamo, tonight in more of a hotel room set up. Hooray for sleeping in the same room! Austin served in this city for about 3 weeks, so he is not as familiar with it, but is excited to be here. We sat down for dinner at a restaurant; Austin ordered rabbit and I ordered pasta with a spicy tomato sauce. Both were very yummy, and the ambiance at the outdoor table was also great. It has been a little bit of a culture shock for me here; I have inhaled more second hand smoke in the last 48 hours than I have in all my years living in Utah, and possibly in California too. It is so much more common, and Austin says people know about the dangers of smoking, but just don’t care. I don’t know, it just seems like everyone dying of lung cancer would be enough of a warning for me? Anyway, I find myself holding my breath a lot in the streets. Other than that, though, Italy is gorgeous, and public transportation isn’t so bad either.