After such a fun time in Lugano, we now had to do something we both were dreading. Saying goodbye to Lapo. Lapo was one of the greatest dogs I had ever met. Because he lived in an apartment that was rented out frequently, he got to meet a lot of travelers, and within about 5 minutes of meeting him it seemed like he was our best friend.
I fixed myself a cup of yerba mate, and began to drink it out on the patio. Our host had already left for work and we had said our goodbyes. My brother and I talked about our plans for the next few days. We wanted to head all the way to Liguria, a coastal region of northern Italy. This region, also known as the Italian Riviera, is the birthplace of pesto and its home to some of the most beautiful coastal villages you’ve ever seen. Of course, the crown jewel of Liguria is the Cinque Terre, a series of 5 small fishing villages tucked into the rocky cliffs, surrounded by vineyards. This is where we wanted to end up, and because we had a car, we knew there was so much we could see on the way there. What we didn’t know at the time was that car would soon end up being a liability.
I finished off my yerba mate and went to the bathroom to rinse it out. The leaves of this tea are difficult to dispose of, so I opted to use the bathroom sink because the drain was bigger. All of a sudden, the sink began filling up with water. I had clogged the sink. My brother and I scrambled around to find things in the apartment to unclog it, and we really didn't want our gracious host to come home to a plumbing project. Then the bathroom door began to swing open. “He’s back!” I thought. But it was only Lapo coming in to investigate. After about an hour of trying we decided to give up. “Can we leave him money?” my brother asked. I reached into my wallet and didn't find a single Swiss Franc. I ended up just leaving a bunch of Euros behind and my brother left 10 U.S dollars. Such a strange way to end our stay, a clogged drain and $25 in foreign currency on the bathroom sink. We ended up contacting him to apologize and he totally understood. Just another funny story to tell the next people that stay with him, I’m sure.
We spent about an hour walking through the city and then we came to one of the main parks in the city. We knew that we had to go for a swim in this lake before we headed on our next international journey. Lugano is basically on the border of Italy so from certain parts you can see Italy across the lake. After a nice swim, we changed and hopped back into the Peugeot (aka. The Puge Wagon). We had discovered a new way to dry our clothes on the go. This method was developed out of necessity during our series of lake swims all across Switzerland. We would just put our wet suits out the window of the car, roll up the windows to hold them into place, and then once we hit highway speeds, they began to dry in a matter of minutes. Sure, we got a few stares for having our laundry flapping out the back windows, but it was totally worth it. Plus it added to our whole lifestyle of living on the run.
The other thing we did that may have been unusual is we didn’t book our Airbnbs until like 7pm that night. This added to the adventure, as most of the time we had no idea where we would end up sleeping. When we pulled up at the border, with our rental car, laundry hanging out the back, red bulls scattered around the car and Kygo music playing so loud you could here it in the next two lanes, they were eager to slap us with the $70 entrance fee. It seemed a bit steep at the time, but well worth it for the adventure we were about to embark on.
This would be my third trip to Italy (2 more and I get a free pizza!). I had been to the larger cities but never had the opportunity to see some of the small towns, which I was really excited about. We drove through Milan and Genoa, and then eventually came to our destination and stopped at Monterosso al Mare for some swimming, of course. It is so hard to believe that earlier that day we were in a landlocked country and now we were about to swim in the Mediterranean. This place was absolutely breathtaking. The beautiful pink and yellow buildings and the rolling green vineyards in the background looked like a painting. The crystal clear sapphire water looked so inviting, I jumped in within about 10 minutes of arriving at the destination. I started to swim a little bit and opened my eyes underwater to see what type of creatures were looking in this beautiful water. All of a sudden, I noticed a massive blue and white jellyfish right by my arm. I jumped out of the water and screamed so loud that heads began to turn. People asked me if I had seen a shark. “No it was a jellyfish” I said. Everyone began to roll their eyes. “But it was a really big jellyfish!” I said, desperately. No one was impressed by this.
Despite that brief moment of weakness, I was completely content. Only days before we were swimming in lakes in Switzerland and now we were enjoying gourmet food and amazing views in the Italian Riviera. This was a dream come true, and it kept getting better and better.