Hiking report

Weekend trip to Como

This year, there were two trips abroad on two weekend trips, both of which took place in France. After their success, I thought we could do the same in a different country. This time, we went a little bit farther: Italy. And it totally made sense this year, because the German reunification day happened to be on a Monday this year.

Como is a very famous touristic city, which is famous for its lake. It’s also not very far from the Swiss border, so there are also a lot of tourists from Germany or Switzerland.

At the beginning, I thought it was a brilliant idea, until I had to realise it was actually too complicated for a lot of people. To be honest, the weekend trips seem to become less and less popular. So, I decided to make this the last weekend trip, but I’m gonna come back to this point later in this article. Anyway in the end we were 6 people. Luckily, I had booked two apartments, each of which could contain up to 7 people. So I simply cancelled one of them.

As I already said, it was complicated for many people, essentially to organize the journey to Como, as the trains for Como were extremely expensive and the flights were for Milan, which means there was another journey to Como required. Then, in less than 24 hours before the trip was to take place, Saki and Felipe’s flight was cancelled. Apparently they didn’t know that they could request compensations, so they were about to give up their hope, until we actually manage to make them understand what kind of rights they had. 7 hours later, around 6am, they were on the train to Como. That was crazy.

My train also around 6am. To change trains in Cologne, I had only 4 min, and then in Basel there was only 10 min. With a bit of miracle, we got all the connections. Throughout this trip, I was actually quite lucky everywhere. The story of my life 😎.

Since the journey took place on a Friday, I essentially had to work on the train. Ahead of the journey, I downloaded my project on my computer, and also used the internet onboard the train. It worked out so well that I had almost the feeling that I tunnelled through Germany and Switzerland to reach Como while having a normal work day.

The apartment was fairly close to both the central station and the city center. We (by the time I reached Como, I was with Kartik, Saki and Felipe) walked to the apartment. As it was still in the afternoon, we walked around in the city center, had late lunch in a random touristic restaurant, and went to Lidl to get stuff for the apartment. When we entered the small chamber of the restaurant, there were two people. They were from Germany. When we were ordering food, a young family arrived, and they were German as well. And when our food arrived, there was a couple that arrived. They were German as well. There’s a simple rule of thumb: if you see one German in a place, usually you see a lot more, as they tend to go to the same places (and hence, there are places where Germans never appear). This place was a great example.

When we got back to the apartment, Gopi arrived. After a short nap (of mine – the others were apparently playing a board game), I prepared something for dinner, while the others were figuring out how to order pizzas with Lieferando/Just Eat. In the end, they figured out that none of them had an account, so they decided to go get the pizzas themselves.

10 min later, they came back, because Kartik dropped the key in a manhole. Fortunately for them, the owner happened to be on the way to the apartment. He was coming to the apartment because I had told him that we were 6 people instead of 3 as I had booked the place and as we had agreed beforehand that I’d pay the difference on the spot. So he went back to his place to get a new key (for which he didn’t ask for money – great!), and the others went out to get pizzas. What a night.

On my side, I prepared too much pasta. Pasta for lunch and pasta for dinner – that’s almost my normal lifestyle, but I understand that the others didn’t want to do the same :).

In the meantime, Cláudia, who was supposed to arrive around midnight, had a huge delay, so that she could not manage to arrive anymore. So in the end everyone arriving by plane had a problem.

Day II (Oct 1, 2022)

This apartment was apparently originally part of a warehouse. It is, therefore, very open. So if there’s a person who snores, you will be able to hear it very clearly. The problem becomes even more complicated, when there are three people snoring, which is impressive considering the fact that we were only five people in that moment. Anyway, some people had a problem with sleeping in. At least I could sleep well.

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As we were staying for three nights, we had two full days to go hiking. Since Cláudia could only make it in the morning today, we decided to keep the main track to the second day and decided to do a shorter track today.

For this, we took a bus from the central station around 10:30. It took only 2,60€ per person. Public transport is amazing in Italy. It became even more amazing when we found out that the bus went through streets so narrow that the bus could barely go through, which were not even one way streets.

Italy is a mountainous country, and so the houses are built right next to the water, and often almost on top of each other. I really like to go through narrow paths which don’t even look like they are leading anywhere, but then we could still somehow keep going.

The first part of the track was, as you can see on the map above, fairly steep and above all, long. It felt like we were going up forever. Every now and then there were streams, which looked almost like waterfalls. There was no dangerous spot, but you would probably struggle there if you are not well prepared.

I had to waited for the others every now and then. Even though we were only 6 people today, we were mostly not hiking together. Especially in the first part I was mostly hiking alone. Since we were mostly in the forest, there was also not much to see there.

After the first steep part was over, it became very moderate all the time till the final part. Also, every now and then we could see the surrounding area as we were often in fields on top of the mountains. Unfortunately the sky was almost all the time covered with clouds, but at least it didn’t rain today at all.

We had breaks every now and then in the fields, and had one in a refuge. There were a few refuges on the way. They were in perfect locations, but it might have been a little bit tasteless to stay there, as they were actually very close the the civilisation. Apparently they get the electricity via cable, but they collect the rain water for the bathroom. That’s already a little bit of self-sustaining system.

After the break, we were all together for a short while. As some of us were not perfectly prepared, they had to occasionally take other routes. It must have been really hard for them to keep up.

Right before we went back to the lake, there was one last refuge, where we had a great platform with a view over the lake. Again, it was a pity that the weather was not really good today, because I’m sure the photo would have been even better than the one that you see here.

Obviously, as the way up was fairly long, going down to the lake was just as long. It was quite difficult to make sure not to slip there. We also took a shortcut, because as you can maybe see on the map above, there were a few meaningless turns towards the end.

According to the map above, we were supposed to walk all the way back to Como, but it was already around 7pm when we reached Cernobbio, so the others decided to take a bus back to Como. I was not extremely tired, so I simply walked back all the way to Como. Since there were a lot of cars on the way, it was not so dark on the way.

I usually love eating out in Italian restaurants in Italy, but somehow the others decided to go to a Rodizio restaurant, which is a Brazilian style all you can eat BBQ restaurant, with a lot of meat. Actually that was something I didn’t really appreciate in Brazil. Well, what do you expect in America…

After the dinner, we directly went back home. We prepared some tea, but we didn’t open a single bottle of wine this time. That’s kind of rare on weekend trips. Then we all went to bed kind of very smoothly.

Day III (Oct. 2, 2022)

We went to bed around midnight. And so, I woke up around 8am. That’s actually very late for my standard in Düsseldorf, but it’s vacation; why should I wake up earlier.

Well, there was actually a reason to wake up earlier – we wanted to walk 31 km today. That’s essentially because there are several peaks right next to Como. In order to create a round trip connecting all those peaks, I had to create a trail of 31 km. That’s really something unheard of, especially in this group, where the people really wanted short tracks. In the end, I totally failed to make the others follow, so I decided to walk alone with Saki, who may or may not have been really interested to walk with me, but apparently she thought it would be dangerous for me to walk all alone.

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Anyway, we left the apartment around 9:15 and crossed the whole city to reach the outskirts of the mountain area. It’s really impressive to see how the flat area of Como all of a sudden transform into a mountain area.

And this first part was also the hardest part – just like yesterday, we were walking an endless stairway + slope, with little progress on the map. At least the landscape was getting better and better as we moved on.

We first reached the “famous” lighthouse, which I actually saw last year, when I went to Sicily with my flatmates. At that time, Como was just a short stopover, just to make sure small stops during the train journey. Accordingly, I couldn’t see much more than the lighthouse. It’s already an impressive place, but it was not even half the height of the highest peak that we were going to visit.

Actually the lighthouse area, which is the city of Brunate (where Alessandro Volta actually comes from), is connected by a cablecar from Como. So that there were also a lot of kids and old people. There were less and less of them as we continued. Interestingly, there was hardly anyone from abroad, only a few Brits. I was expecting this place full of German tourists, so I was a little bit surprised.

At the beginning, we were mostly walking in a forest, but things changed as we neared the range of peaks. There were more and more fields, and sometimes it was a little bit rocky. As a matter of fact, we could see mountains which are fairly rocky.

Right after the first peak, there was a refuge. There were really a lot of people there, maybe because it was possible to reach that place by car. We had a lunch break there. A plate of cheese and ham, with a cake and coffee. It’s so Italian, isn’t it?

The peaks were, as a matter of fact, a lot better than I had imagined. I knew that I wanted to come to Como exactly for this reason, but I didn’t expect to see so many peaks one after another, with each of them offering different views. I’m sorry that I don’t have a better photo than the one that you see above – you must go there to experience the same.

Somehow, while I was waiting for Saki on the way, she managed to sneak through and kept walking. I didn’t realise that she was gone and looked for her some time. We then found each other at some point later and walked together, back to the lake Como. Again, it was more like a forestal area, with a few houses on the way.

There’s something I absolutely love about Italy – there is public fountains, where you can get drinkable water. The one that you see above saved us (especially Saki, who had finished her water even before we reached the halfway point).

When we reached the lake, more specifically in the village of Molina, we met all the others. We walked back to Torno together, from where we took a ferry back to Como. It cost 3,80€ per person. Super cheap and it was an amazing experience. I presume that it’s considered as public transport, so probably there are a lot of local people as well on the ship.

From the port, we went back home once. We then booked a nearby restaurant. It looked more like what Brazilians call Boteco. And just like in Botecos, the food was really good and cheap. Well, the only one problem was that they brought a normal bottle of water when I ordered tap water. Fine, it was anyway super cheap.

After the dinner, we went to the city center to get ice cream. I actually like ice cream in Germany, but the others were so impressed by the Italian ice cream, that we actually went there at least once a day during our stay in Como. Well, it was definitely really good there.

At home, we opened two bottles of wine, to celebrate the last evening together. However, I actually think no one had enough energy to stay awake very long. Especially I was almost falling asleep while drinking with the others at the same time. Around midnight we all went to bed. It took me only a few seconds to fall asleep.

Day IV (Oct. 3, 2022)

Again, I woke up around 8am. It didn’t matter much though, because we had no programme for the last day. We just had to leave the apartment by 11am. That’s a lot of time. But it looked like we were all determined to stay there until 11am, which we indeed did.

Kartik and I were the ones staying in Como, because we had a train leaving at 3:50pm from Como. All the others were going to Milan, maybe to do some sightseeing, but mainly because the plane was leaving from there. Kartik and I left our luggage in the hotel, that probably belongs to the same owner.

We did some sightseeing, but I cut this part short, because I don’t think it really belongs to the group trip. Now I’m sitting in the train back to Düsseldorf to write this report. I am supposed to arrive in Düsseldorf at 1:11am. I now just only left Switzerland and hope that things will be fine.

So much for this weekend trip, and probably the last weekend trip that I organized, at least for a while. Interestingly, my trip to Como last year also somehow led to the end of something with a friend of mine, who was travelling with me.

My love for weekend trips was not there right from the beginning. After the very first one, where we went to Traben Trarbach, I was not even sure if I’d organize another one in the future. Somehow, I kind of kept organising trips. It took me a few more sessions to fully enjoy it, but at some point it became such a thing that I really looked forward to organising more and more. From my point of view, we reached the apex in Marseille this year. From that point on, I guess we saw a steady decline, and for Monschau and Como, I never managed to even find the right number of people, and the ones following, namely Nancy and Prague, would probably have been catastrophic. Also, people like Jen, Zaman or Amir, who would support me on the planning, are not there anymore. The fact that only Saki joined the hike on the last day is a good proof for the fact that a weekend trip with me planning everything becomes out of touch. In this regard, I think now it’s the right moment to step down.

Yet, I think there is another reason that I was not really aware of, but while thinking about why I don’t want to organize weekend trips, I realized that I went through some recent changes; You might have seen in a recent post that I supervised a summer camp for teenagers from Japan, who were going to stay in Germany for one year. The summer camp was there fore them to be mentally prepared for the year. It was only one week, but we asked metaphysical questions in life. I saw how those teenagers struggled to find a meaning of life and looked to create a better future. That’s a past that many of us belonged to as well, but over time, as the life gets more concretised, we stopped looking for changes, especially we stopped dreaming of a better future. As the time passed by, I started getting used to it and started to affirmatively stick to a constant life. In particular, a weekend trip is now just a distraction from the daily life and doesn’t mean to provide a special spot in life to discover something new in myself.

I don’t want it anymore. I want every moment of my life to be a life-changing one, I want every day of my life to be a new place, and I want myself to be a different person every year. So with this, I say goodbye to the weekend trips, which offered a great place to look for comfort.

Some time in the near future, I might very well come back to organising weekend trips, but then those ones will probably have a slightly different format. Probably that’s not gonna be the kind of ones that you want to join, but I’m already excited to think about what it’s gonna look like.

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Amir
1 month ago

It is definitely sad to read that you are not going to organize weekend trips (at least for a while). I would say I personally enjoyed almsot all the weekend trips with you and others. I appreciate your great contribution in organizing hikes and weekends trips. Definitely they had a positive impact in my life. In those two weekend trips in France, i had fantastic experience and extraordinary hikes while in other weekend trips in germany, I mainly enjoyed being together with nice people (multiculti) and also enjoyed having normal hikes 😉 . There were also a few moments which i was not happy but really a few.

I was wondering why you cancel the perag as there was quite a lot of people intrested to join, then i talked with saki and read your report about como (which i was also intrested but i couldn’t manage it). Now i know better.

Anyway, I am looking forward to new version of weekend trips next year. As i will move to Munich and cannot join normal hikes would like to join some of weekend trips next year.

Regards,
Amir