Spring Break Part 1: Lake Como, Milan, and Geneva!Siena, Spring 2012

The last few weeks have been very crazy! Midterms came very quickly and after a lot of studying, spring break sort of crept up on me.  I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone.  I planned my Spring Break trip at the end of January, and that feels like it was just a few weeks ago! Everyone in the program had different destinations planned for their Spring Break Trip, but I had overlapping plans with many friends.  First, two friends and I set off for Lake Como.  We trained all the way there, via Milan.  It was beautiful there, but unfortunately I did not get to see George Clooney (who conveniently has a house there).  It was all quite picturesque.  I spent the afternoon reading under a tree looking out onto the water.  I also people watched, and saw many tourists as well as Italians strolling through the cute town.  There were also some water activities going on, which would have really appealed to me except for the fact that it was somewhat of a cool and hazy day.  We spent the night in Milan and then headed to Geneva, Switzerland. The train ride to Geneva was long, but also gorgeous.  Switzerland has always fascinated me.  One reason is because of its infamous neutrality policy.  In my mind, it is a serene and peaceful place.  Secondly, is because there is more than one main language that is spoken.  There is a German area, an Italian area, and a French area.  Geneva is in the French area.  As we neared our destination, the mountains were snowy, pristine, and perfect.  We arrived late in the afternoon, yet we had a few problems in locating our accommodations, and by the time we settled in, it was pretty late. We had booked a hotel at the Holiday Inn, yet we were unaware that there was also a Holiday Inn Express right near the Geneva airport.  For this reason, we were getting very different directions from each person we spoke to.  Eventually, we learned that this hotel we had booked was actually in FRANCE.  By the way people reacted when they saw the address of the hotel, we thought the hotel was in Paris!   However, it turned out that it was just over a close-by border.  It was a definite taxi ride, since we had to cross country borders, yet we never even had to show our passports!  Traveling from city to city and especially country-to-country is just so stress-free Europe. Unfortunately we got in too late to venture out for any French or Swiss food, but we got pizza- something we had been hoping to escape for the week! The next morning, we made plans to go hiking in the Alps.  We took a ski lift up the mountain, with many skiers.  I was a little nervous that the mountains would be completely covered in snow, but we found some paths that were clear, and we really did get to hike! (Of course we were in France at this time).  The views from atop the mountain were splendid.  We could see farms in the distance, and not much of any kind of civilization, which was refreshing.  I’m very happy to be able to say that not only have I seen the Alps, but also I have climbed them. Later that day, we took the train into the city of Geneva.  One thing that astounded me about Geneva was how expensive everything was.  It is a beautiful, modern city.  There is a decent amount of shopping and restaurants.  I especially liked walking along the water.  Traveling in northern Italy and Switzerland was great.  The worst part of the weekend was waking up at 3:45 in order to get a cab to the airport to catch our flight that brought us to the next part of our Spring break adventure!    
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