Day 3: Saturday July 24th, 2004 Read Short Version View Photos

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

This morning we checked out of our hotel in Milan. Our wake up call was late, so by the time Tyler and I got downstairs with our stuff we had to leave without breakfast. It was overcast, but as we drove out of the city and towards our destination, it clouded up, started raining then we were treated to a fury of lightning for about half an hour. Needless to say we were extremely excited to be touring in the rain.

We eventually made it to Lake Maggiore, half an hour early. We waited around for our tour guide, and she showed up not too much later. We then took a short bus tour up a mountain to this massive statue of St. Charles Borromeo, and promptly went back down to the lakefront to catch our boat to the islands. At this point the rain started to taper off into a light sprinkle, which remained for the next few hours.

Thumbs Up: Shuttle boats with
camper shells on the back
We decided not to pay the 0.30 euro to use the bathroom and instead got onto our shuttle boat, which was 2 seats short of being big enough for all of us. Thankfully, the boat had the equivalent of a truck camper shell on the back half to keep us back-of-the-boaters dry. We cruised slowly out to the first of three islands we were to go to, Isla Bella. On this island was a huge summer house of the wealthy family that used to control this region. The inside was beautiful and they had amazing gardens. The tour was a little on the long side, and our tour guide had an annoying blinking-too-hard tic, but there was a lot of interesting things throughout the house, including six unique "grotto" rooms made of stone.

After puttering through the gardens for a while, we made our way back to our boat, boarded, and went to very small Isola dei Pescatori where we would have free time for lunch. Our crew started out and searched for an acceptable place to eat that had pizza. We settled in a small café and ordered slices of pizza and pasta, and dessert. Upon finishing up we walked just up the alley to a different pizza place so Jessie could procure another slice of pizza. We then walked the rest of the way around the island and got back on the boat.

The final island we visited was Isola Madre, which had a plethora of exotic plants and birds, along with another old house full of antiques. The house was cool but our tour guide was taking way too long, which when coupled with the stifling heat in the house was unbearable, and we skipped the last quarter of the house and sat around outside while everyone else suffered inside. Our boat then took us back to shore where we ponied up the 0.30 euro for the bathroom, got some gelato then headed back on the bus which was to take us to Rivarola.

Thumbs Down: Unorganized hotels We eventually arrived in front of our home for the next week, Hotel Europa, which was located in a vaguely residential area of this smallish, not antique town. We were then told that about a quarter of our group had to go to another hotel as there wasn't enough room at this one, which was pretty weird. As we milled around outside the bus, which was parked across a small side street, some local tried to drive through, couldn't, backed up 30 feet, disappeared then quickly reappeared with a bicycle which he rode over to us, proceeded to have a heated discussion with our bus driver, then rode back to where his car was, got off, walked back to the bus driver, argued some more, then left.

We then got in the bus for the long trek to "the other hotel." We were puzzled why the hotel guy was walking with the keys (on gigantic fobs) instead of with us on the bus, but it turned out "the other hotel" was literally just around the corner. Now, it's simply an overflow area for the main hotel, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a little bit ghetto. To begin with, the windows and doors all had these green burglar-resistant shutters. Upon further examination, so did pretty much every other apartment and establishment nearby, which led to further brow furrowing. The rooms weren't too bad; they had TVs and showers, but lacked a few things... like telephones and clocks. The main hotel had these, in addition to luxuries such as mini-bars, but beggars can't be choosers. Or something.

I got my own room with two double beds shoved together (as Bekki would be joining me on Wednesday), and Tyler (who was technically in Jessie's room) had a smaller double. The management came in, showed Tyler how to turn his air conditioner on (which he had already done -- off was on and on was off), and proceeded to turn it off and told him to leave it off while they got it ready, or something. The room of course became instantly hot and stuffy, so we waited until we could turn it back on and leave. Eventually we got tired of waiting and just turned it on and left. We then walked over to the main hotel and hung out at some outside tables until dinner, which was to be at the hotel restaurant.

All the tables in the restaurant were for six, so we persuaded Levi and Mark to sit with us. We had two choices for our first and second courses on a comically poorly-spelled menu (firts course, corse and course in the same sentence, chois, etc.). The food wasn't bad except for Tori's omelet (who orders an omelet for dinner?). Dessert was fruit in wine, which wasn't very good and none of us ate much of. The first of many tear-inducing laughing fits also happened. (1,917. Wow.)

Thumbs Down: Mystery carnivals Someone at another table mentioned that there was a carnival just down the road about a half mile. None of us knew where it was, and only Levi had seen it, as the rest of us had been asleep or not paying attention. So the six of us decided to go find it, or at least get out of the hotel for a while. We walked the way the bus had come in, and ended up in a semi-bustling little downtown, where we immediately hit a gelateria. We proceeded to walk up and back the main street, half looking for this alleged carnival but not really. We "gave up" and made our way back to the hotel, unpacked then went to sleep.