Vinn and I just got back from the most relaxing vacation we’ve had in a long time, probably the most relaxing since we moved to Germany. We went to Lake Como last Friday to Wednesday and spent those five days chilling by the pool, taking a ferry to Bellagio and having an amazing dinner with the most incredible view. I thought I would put together a list of all the amazing things we saw and did in this post and then I’d do another post on Monday all about the amazing restaurants because they deserve their own post.
Our time in Lake Como began on Friday when we drove from Germany to Italy. It took a little longer than expected, so we just got to the hotel (we stayed at the Sheraton Lake Como), ordered room service and passed out.
The real fun began on Saturday morning when we ventured to downtown Como to walk around, grab breakfast and put together a game plan for the rest of the week. The city of Como is right on the lake and is truly spectacular. Grabbing a cappuccino with a lake view is the perfect way to start a weekend, that’s for sure!
Right? I just can’t believe that this picture is real. And that I took it! I am so blessed and lucky to be able to visit places like this with my husband my puppy.
Como is a great city, too. There are restaurants all along the water, gelato places every third shop, great little stores and cafes and a beautiful church.
Our hotel was an 8 minute drive from city center Como, which wasn’t horrible, but we wanted to grab dinner within walking distance so we could both enjoy a little bit of wine. We asked our hotel concierge for a recommendation and she directed us to a little town called, Cernobbio.
And this little town is seriously charming. There is a small square with a fountain right on the water. We snapped some pictures before heading off to dinner.
The next day, Sunday, was dubbed, “Boat Day!” Whenever I’m close to the water, all I want to do is get on a boat. There’s something about it that just relaxes me, especially on lakes since there’s no chance of getting sea sick!
We took the ferry from Como to Bellagio because I had read that it has some of the best views in all of Lake Como. And boy did it not disappoint. Travel note: get to the ferry line to buy your tickets ahead of time. We arrived around 10:30 and waited in line for 30 minutes. Dogs are allowed, too, and the tickets are about 12 euro per person for a round trip.
Walking around Bellagio was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip for me. The mountains are just so stunning and I could stare at them all day.
After we grabbed lunch, we visited Villa Melzi and the gardens. I’ll be honest, the villa is a little underwhelming, but it’s right on the water and the grounds are the reason to visit. There are a ton of walkways that climb up the mountain and you can get some beautiful views of the lake from there. There’s also a gorgeous home behind the villa that is worth seeing.
There are also statues everywhere and I just sat in awe of how gorgeous they are. It is definitely worth a visit to this spot, it’s only 5 euro per person and is worth a walk through while you’re in Bellagio.
Italians certainly know how to do something amazing with marble.
Copley may look like she’s not enjoying this, but she is such a happy pup. I love that we get to bring her around with us and share in the memories with us.
There’s the gorgeous home in the background. Can you call that a home? It’s a mansion and a villa in its own right. If I could build a dream house, it would look just like that. I would also like the point out how pristine the trees are. The landscaping around Bellagio is top notch and amazing.
We made our way back to Como around 5 PM on the ferry and headed back to our hotel for dinner there and then called it a night.
The rest of our week was spent lounging by the pool, blogging, reading and drinking cocktails. Our hotel had an amazing pool and I think it is a definite must when staying around Lake Como. There are some public pools with snack bars that are on the lake and some tiny beaches, but I prefer pools with alcohol bars, myself.
Is that not just sheer perfection? Amazing. I finished my book, Truly, Madly, Guilty from my 7 books to read this summer post, and I have to say I was not too impressed. But reading by the pool with a tequila sunrise is seriously one of my favorite things.
Monday night was the most epic night and the best thing we did during our time in Lake Como. If you only do one thing In Como, it has to be this: taking the funicular tram up to the top of the mountain in Brunate. It’s on the lake and within walking distance of downtown Como and only 5 euro per person. You get the most incredible views of the city and the lake from up there. Dogs are allowed, but we left Copley at the hotel because she needed rest.
Is this real life? To get to this view, go down the stairs from the tram and then turn left. It took us a while to find this look out point but it is the best one.
We stood here for a half an hour just staring. We absolutely love climbing to the top of places to get the best views and, I have to say, this is one of the best ones we’ve seen.
We also ate dinner at a restaurant recommended to us by the hotel concierge and it was the best meal we had in Como! It had a view like this one, the food was amazing and we got to watch the sun set over the lake and the mountains. It was remarkable.
That was our weekend in Lake Como. It was the most relaxing, wonderful weekend ever.
What’s the most relaxing vacation you’ve ever taken?
I love reading routine posts from other bloggers and successful people. I love seeing what people do every morning and night in order to have a great, successful day. I find it so interesting and inspiring. This article is especially interesting because it shares evening routines of successful people.
A twist on the evening routine, I thought I would share 9 things I do every night. These aren’t in any particular order but thought it would be fun to share. It helps me realize that I need to put more effort into making a nightly routine and figure out what will work best for me.
I’d love to hear what you do every night that relaxes you, helps you fall asleep or prepares you for the next day. Leave me a comment below!
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What do you do every night before falling asleep?
The beginning of August marked the one and a half year anniversary of us living in Germany. (If you need a refresher or are new around here, here’s the story of how we moved abroad in February 2016). When I think about our first few days in Germany, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. We know where to go for most things, can speak enough German to get by and are loving all the traveling we get to do. It is so strange to say, but Germany kind of feels like home now!
Now that it’s been longer than a year, I feel like we’re basically Germans. Of course, there I things I miss about America, but we have adapted some parts of the German lifestyle that are making our stay here better, and, honestly, making us better people. Here are the five habits that we’ve adopted since moving to Germany.
Following the rules more
Germans follow every rule, every law, every “you should do this,” to a T. If the walking sign on the sidewalk has a red hand, no one moves, even if no cars are coming, even if it’s 3 ‘o clock in the morning. When I lived in Chicago, if no cars were coming, I would cross the street regardless of what the sign said. Now, I stand on the sidewalk until that light turns green. No matter what. The strangest part is that it’s become normal. When we went back to Chicago a few months ago, I waited until the sign changed while all my friends started walking.
German phrases in everyday life
This past month, I’ve started noticing that even when I am speaking English, I have a German accent during certain words, especially words that start with ‘S.’ The s sound in German has more of a ‘sch’ sound, so instead of saying small, it comes out schmal. Ugh. It is much more common for the area where we live, too.
I also started putting “or” at the end of sentences. This is a super German thing! A very common phrase is to say, “Yes, or?” and I’ve started putting or at the end of sentences when talking to Vinn, my mom, anyone really.
Vinn also has some that are also funny and just a testament to how much we’ve been studying German and embracing the language in our everyday lives. It is wild to hear us putting German language rules and idioms into English.
Paying for more speeding tickets
This one definitely is more Vinn, but it is much easier to get a speeding ticket in Germany. There are speeding cameras on the highway and on some side streets that automatically take a picture if you are going even slightly over. Vinn got a speeding ticket for going three over the limit. When Vinn got his first speeding ticket, his colleagues told him, “You’re definitely German now.” Well, he’s German several times over now!
Carrying a lot more cash
Germans love cash and hardly ever use their bank or credit cards. If you use your card at the grocery store, you get bad looks because you’re holding up the line for not using cash.
In the States, I never carried cash. Like never. Now, I always have at least 20 euro in my wallet ready to go just in case I need to run to the store and get face wash or a cappuccino somewhere. It also makes splitting bills easier.
Developing a thicker skin
I thought I had pretty thick skin before but it’s even thicker now. Germans are stereotypically straight forward and tell it like it is. I have had some situations at work that would be considered rude in the US but are normal here. After struggling through them and coming to terms that it is a cultural difference and not to take it personally, I realized that are worse things than being told exactly what someone thinks. I can handle it better, too.
There are other smaller things that we have adopted, too, but these are the biggest changes since moving to Germany. Overall, life is pretty fantastic and it’s interesting to see how we are evolving into this new culture of our’s.
What habits have you started noticing about yourself that are different? Did you get them from family members or a different culture?
I love that I get to take my dog everywhere in Germany. It’s absolutely the best to be able to go shopping or sit for a cocktail and having my four-legged best friend with me.
There are also so many walking trails around that are great for exploring new areas and making sure Copley gets exercise throughout the day. I was surprised, though, by how many rules there are for walking your dog in Germany, given how many places dogs can go. I wish I had a quick cheat sheet for when we moved here and hope anyone who is moving to Germany or bringing your dog with you on vacation finds this helpful! There are also so many other rules and laws for owning a dog, like leaving your dog alone and in a crate all day is against the law, but that’s a different post for a different day.
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Check the signs
There are signs everywhere that let you know if your dog is allowed on the path or now. The signs will tell you if your dog must be kept on a leash, wear a muzzle or can roam freely. Dogs must be kept on a leash on public streets or you can be fined up to 5,000 Euros.
There is a field with walking paths just behind our apartment and dogs are allowed to walk off leash. Many German dogs are super well behaved and stay right with their owners, which is incredible to see. I usually keep Copley on a leash because she stops to smell things every five seconds and if she was on her own, she’d never walk. She also doesn’t react well when other dogs get in her face. It’s better for everyone if she stays on a leash.
There are signs also that will tell you if a dog can be on the grass of some places, like parks or homes. Beware of those places because you can get fined for letting your dog go to the bathroom on grass that has this sign. I always keep these bags on her leash for easy clean-up.
Keep Your Dog Close to You
I’ve noticed that when I’m walking the dog and she is very far in front of me, I get dirty looks. Then I discovered that there are rules for how far your dog’s leash can be from you depending on where you are. If you’re on a busy street, your dog can only be 1 meter away from you. If you’re in a more open area, like a park, it’s 5 meters. Many Germans even have two different leashes depending on where they are going with their dogs.
It’s best to just keep your dog close to you when you’re walking so you aren’t in violation of anything.
Dog Registration Tags
If you are moving to Germany, you must register your dog with your city, similar to what you have to do the States. You pay a registration fee annually and then the tag is sent to your home with a number on it. Your dog must wear this tag at all times, otherwise you will be fined. Of course, if you are just visiting, there is no need to register your dog. It varies by city, but if your dog remains in our city for more than 30 days, it must be registered.
I love taking Copley for walks. It is one of my favorite parts of the day. You can bring your dog to most restaurants and shops, which is so great. Plus, having this smily-faced girl looking at me afterwards is the absolute best.
I wrote a post a while ago (and by a while, I mean October 2016!) all about what I bring with me when exploring new places. I’ve visited a lot more places since then and have learned a few more things that I need to pack since and thought I would share my updated travel essentials.
If you’re traveling to Europe, here are some things you might forget to pack but will be super helpful.
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A Universal Travel Converter is probably the number one thing you should bring with you when traveling to Europe. Obviously, the outlets are different over here and this way you can still use your favorite products from home. I still use my American computer, so my travel converter gets daily use. I have not had one issue with our’s in the last year and a half.
*A note about converters and hair products, do not use a converter for your straightener. It will blow it up! Same goes for hair dryers. Use the hotel hair dryer, bring some product that’s perfect for air drying, or buy a travel straightener. I don’t have one, but this one on Amazon got great reviews.
Scarves are your best friend. I absolutely love scarves and Europeans love them, too. They are not only a great fashion statement, but will come in handy if you’re visiting a church and need to cover your shoulders. I remember when I was studying abroad over a summer in college, I was wearing a tank top into a church in Venice and had to pay to have my shoulders covered. If I’d had a scarf, I could have draped it over myself. I now travel with at least one scarf, just in case. And, they are perfect for keeping you warm on the airplane.
Medicine. This may seem like a strange thing to bring, especially if you don’t normally get sick, but, trust me, you want to have some medicine with you. You never know when something will happen and you don’t want to be wandering the streets of a new city late at night in search of medicine for an upset stomach. A lot of European countries also have lower dosage ibuprofen over the counter, so definitely bring some Advil with you. Some kind of stomach medicine, allergy meds and eye drops make it into my suitcase always.
A portable phone charger is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been snapping pictures or looking up directions on my phone only to realize that I have about 20% battery left and it’s 3 ‘o clock in the afternoon with no plans to stop by the hotel. A power bank keeps your phone charged while you’re on the go and will be a total lifesaver. Gotta get all the photos you can of the Eiffel Tower, right?
Similar to the charger, extra batteries are also things that you will need and when you least expect it. When we went to Munich, I snapped three pictures and then my batteries died in my camera. We had to run to the convenience store to get batteries, which took way longer than it should have to find them and caused quite a bit of stress. Now I always carry extra batteries in my camera case and have seriously used needed them several times.
Comfortable shoes are obvious, but it’s really hard to find cute shoes that you can wear all day. I usually pack some Sperry’s, Nikes and sandals if it’s summer and boots if it’s winter. After too many trips with having sore feet at the end of the day, I have totally switched over to focusing on comfort. I even stopped bringing wedges with me because I never wear them after a long day of walking everywhere.
Cross-body bags are the best purses to bring because they keep your belongings safe and will keep your hands free for taking pictures, eating gelato or shopping. I have several Kate Spade ones and they are big enough to hold my wallet and phone while staying relatively light.
Of course, bringing clothes and toiletries need to make it into your suitcase, but the above things are sometimes an after thought but bringing them will make for a happier vacation.
What do you always pack on vacation?